The plan was to slow down this weekend so Jenifer could rest and get ready for Tuesday. I'm pleased to report that we did a really good job of slowing down. We only did a ton of things this weekend instead of the shit ton of things we usually do.
- Went rummange-saleing in Jefferson.
- Danced a Maypole and hand a wonderful celebration at a friends
- One load of laundry.
- Introduced a friend to Sgt. Pete
- Had a friend spend the night.
- Three loads of laundry.
- Assembled a four-peice patio set
- Picked up some of the sitcks in the yard.
- Recovered an herb garden in the back yard, and turned it into a cucumber patch.
- Went to Ace and bought a huge bag of dogfood.
*Introcuded another friend to Srgt. Pete.
- Moved an upright freezer out of a friend's basement in West Allis.
Put that freezer (temporarily) in my Garage.
Made a butternut squash soup.
- Made a quick stop for groceries.
- Brought up all the garden stuff from the basement.
So yeah. Rest assured, it was a pretty slow weekend.
I have really been struggling with depression lately. It's bad. As bad as it has ever been. Whil Wheaton talks a good game about depression.
I, like Whil, have a hard time "reconciling my awesome life" with feeling shitty all the time. I have great friends, good support, an awesome kid. I wasn't on fucking Star Trek, but that's a pretty high bar.
I don't get suicidal. That's just never been on the table. But I walk around with this internal self-talk that whispers lies to me about what a terrible, incompetent, ugly person I am. And I know it's not true, but its still something I hear a lot. I'm not fishing for compliments here. Please don't feel the need to respond to that.
I am simply calling out the fact that I seem to be my own worst enemy, wallowing in the negative self-talk. Especially after surviving a summer that cost me my job, car, and home, in that order. It's easy pick up the pieces and say 'hooray! I get to start over,' and it's quite another to mean it.
Of course, there's power in that shadow talk, and I have it within me to harness that power. But, seriously, it's hard work. It takes working with a professional, and having a treatment plan, and sticking with it and stuff. It's not just a thing you can "buck up and get over."
When I worked in Mental Health, there was this chestnut that compared the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment to seeking medical treatment: "You wouldn't expect yourself to just snap out of a broken arm."
And it's true. You wouldn't. But at the same time, there's not an entire fucking culture and industry swirling around you that denies a broken arm is a "serious" thing to suffer.
Case in point: What kind of emergency mental health coverage do you have? Emergency mental health care isn't even a thing. A 72-hour hold isn't health care, it's a parking lot. Our culture doesn't have a way to address a mental health emergency, for the most part. That's fucked up, right?
I don't have any answers. I just want to enjoy the richness of my life and feel safe and content once in awhile.
I have this artificial barometer for "How I'm Doin'" these days. It's called this here blog.
I started blogging a long time ago because I felt like I couldn't put everything I wanted to put into my Newspaper collumns into my newspaper, and I needed an outlet where I would write about videogames and movies and tv shows I liked. I did some podcasting and made some observations about life and culture.
Then, awhile later, I said that everything had to change. And I reinvented this here blog. I put up one of those Everything new is old again posts, and launched WriteLarge.com, Phase II: Now with Drupal.
The internet kind of grew up around that idea and became an outlet where everyone writes about video games and movies and tv shows they like. I like that. There's so many good places out there nowadays to read about what video games and movies and tv shows that people like. It's good.
Then, in a post that I'm pretty sure I didn't think was rambling and incoherent at the time, I launched WriteLarge.com, Phase III. Now with more of the same things.
I still want to write about things, I really do. But videogames, movies and tv shows are not really the things I feel compelled to write about anymore. I guess it's a sign of being not-quite 40, but I no longer care to compel you to like what I like. I guess I don't care if you and I have a difference of opinion on whether it is a good emotional investment to watch sportsball. Fandom comes in many flavors. Whatever makes you happy, I guess.
I wrote a letter today to my lawyer about the car accident I was in last June. It made me sad and upset. I wrote a release note for a piece of software that you'll never use but will impact the lives of 4 in 10 of you today. It did not make me sad and upset. Both of them created compelling writing. But neither of them was very satisfying.
That's what I'm getting at here. I'm done writing for you, dear reader of this here blog. (As if I ever did....) I'm writing for me now. I want to write in fucking markdown with links and in a CMS that I like, and I want it to be published immediately, and I want it to be ok if it has 10,000 typos in it because fuck you, guy who has to point out typos.
*ahem.* ... And so.
Here comes Writelarge.com Phase IV.
Look the fuck out.
People of Watertown! Hear my plea!
Its not you; it’s your children. They are ruining it for everyone. They are surly and obnoxious. They fear no man. They linger in the shadows, hiding in the dark places where old beer cans linger and trash bags stop swirling and rest. They sneer as you drive past, avoiding your eye, but challenging you from beneath their furrowed brows. Have you raised a city of feral beasts?
Shackle them! Shackle them, I say! Let them taste the willow switch! Help them to know how meaningless they are! For your dark places, dear people of Watertown, are overrun with these feral beasts. And they are not studying late at the library, as they have claimed. They are under a bridge by the river where the cops don’t come by and they can smoke their cigarettes in peace.
I am aware of these truths, People of Watertown. I am aware because I know of these children. I am one of them returned. I am a feral child sprung from your riverbed, loosed on the county trunk highways. I walk again through your garbage strewn alleyways. I prowl across the parking lots surrounding the parkways.
But it is different now. This time, Watertown, I stop to pick up the trash in those alleyways. I chase the rat-children back to their homes.
Help me. Help me. Help me to help you, Watertown. Let me in. Let me in. Let me in.
We are trying to rehome our older schipperke, Abigail.
I have to move and will be living in some temporary housing. All of the animals will be able to transition except one, Abigail. She is a 10-13 year-old schipperke, and we do not know what to do with her.
Abigail is a special needs dog we adopted not knowing she was special needs. If she was a human she would be diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder and PTSD. She has had a miserable life, and after 2 consults with two separate animal behaviorists, she is as good as she will get: mostly pad trained (took 5 years), claustrophobic, sound sensitive, and tolerates minimal social engagement with people (on her terms).
The animal behaviorists recommended euthanasia because of the severity of her anxiety, bowel issues, and inability to be a "house dog" in a traditional sense. I couldn't do it. It isn't her fault she was abused. We do not know what to do.
She's a sweet dog, has never bit or nipped and is even friendly outside. But she has no social skills and will, as the breed tends to, run like hell when not contained. We received her as a rescue about 7 years ago but have lost track of the person who connected us to her.
We've been working with the Midwestern Schipperke Rescue orgianzation, but they do not seem to have capacity to take on Abigail. We totally understand. It's hard to find a foster home that can handle all of her needs.
Do you, or does anyone you know, have any ideas?
I helped my dad by a new Macintosh the other day. Since they only have about four different laptops now and since he knew he wanted an optical drive, there wasn’t really much point in shopping for it.
I mean, if you want to spend under $1300 and you want an optical drive, your choice is the 13-inch Mac Book Pro. It’s not even the pro-model anymore, really. It’s really the default.
An aside: Maybe you can still get the MacBook (Whitey) but I don’t see in on the MacStore anymore. And besides, the lighted keyboard is worth the upgrade. Trust me.
But what struck me as the most interesting thing was the way the helpful Apple store guy pitched the laptop.
Here’s a salesman who literally doesn’t have to do anything. This computer is already sold, and yet he’s running down features and demonstrating multi-touch gestures and full-screen mode and all kinds of silly things. He’s got my dad trying out Pages and three finger swiping.
I realized he was doing an upsell from an iPad.
Let me explain.
When I was an electronic sales guy (I used to sell stereos, car steroes, and cellphones at Best Buy in the late 1990’s), I had a series of “scripts” I would run through when I was demonstrating or pitching a product to certain shoppers. A careful and attentive salesguy makes note of what pitches work well and then starts tweaking and adding them to his repertoire, iterating them as he goes along, making little tweaks and little changes that help you match the right product with the right shopper.
But there’s more to it than that. A really good salesguy also starts adding iterations to his scripts that helps him identify and narrow in on what branch of the script he needs to go down. So an attentive sales guy not only has scripts that sell the product, he also has scripts that feel out what product and what pitch he should be using.
Back to the Apple store: Our sales guy did not seem to have hit the level of really understanding what pitch would work for my dad. And that makes sense, since the deal was closed and we were just doing some kind of strange sales ritual anyway, until the time would come when we could say: “Put it in a bag, son, we’re taking this one home with us.”
But I was fascinated with the way that he pitched us anyway. This really did feel like he was upselling my Dad from an iPad. He demonstrated the full screen mode like it was the thing that made the most logical sense. He showed how pinch and zoom worked to change the zoom levels on the screen. He demonstrated three finger swiping and two finger scrolling ad nauseum. And at the end of each and every demonstration, he said something akin to: “See, it’s just like the iPad.”
My father has only haltingly ever poked at an iPad. He’s only ever haltingly poked at his candy-bar pay-as-you-go cell phone. He buys Macintosh Computers because that is what a retired educator buys, and when I tried to give him a computer with Windows 8 on it recently to feel out, he was uncomfortable and displeased with it. (Part of that may have been the fact that the laptop was missing the letter “e”, but I digress.)
All of this leads me to the following conclusion: The problem with the “Apple Experience” is this: It is not homogenous, but it really wants to be. Outside of app selection and wallpapers, there is almost no differentiation between one iPad and another.
And this is what Apple wants– because this is more efficiently sold, manufactured, and consumed.
Draw what conclusions you need to from this. I am an Apple fanboy– I admit this. But I’m also a fan of controlling my own destiny. So long as I can continue to use my Macintosh to work in ways that I find efficient, I will continue to use it.
But that’s not the pitch that works for everyone.
Portable Computing in 1992
The first computer that was ever mine and just mine was a Macintosh PowerBook 145b.
Photo Credit: Lee Carson
EveryMac has this to say:
The Apple Macintosh PowerBook 145b features a 25 MHz 68030 processor, 4 MB of RAM, either a 40 MB or 80 MB hard drive, and an internal 1.44 MB floppy drive in a compact portable case with a 9.8" monochrome passive-matrix display.
My goodness, I loved that computer. My mom and dad took me to a local electronics store, showed me the notebook apples and said, “pick one out.”
I had no idea what I was getting into. I had to chose between the 145B and the Powerbook Duo 210. Today, I’d have picked the Duo, hands down, but at the time, I didn’t like the small trackball and I didn’t like the fact that the Duo did not come with a floppy disk drive. And the grayscale screen was this weird passive matrix LED that was kind of hard to see. Remember, kids, back then, color computing only came at great expense and was, really, not so pretty.
It turns out the 145b was the right choice for me. I had tons (read: tons) of experience with similar strength computers in our families SE30, could tweak out Mac OS 7.5 like nobody’s business, and ended up buying a 2400kbs modem so I could connect to the University of Wisconsin’s VAX.
I have owned about a half-a-dozen laptops, and I’ve not felt the connection to them the way I was connected to my 145b.
Point is, I’ve been lucky to live in a world where portable computing has always been at hand and that writing on the couch while my family watches Xena :Warrior Princess is something that we’ve been able to do together for over 20 years now.
It's great to live in the future, isn't it?
As of 3:30 p.m. on May 23, 2012, I became a fully independent content creator and personal historian. Go me.
Gone indie, but not forgotten.
I’m working really hard to keep a positive framework on this. I would have preferred to transition into this new job over a longer timeframe. But the universe had other plans.
I think the weirdest part is not being able to wipe down and clean out my hard drives and computers. It just makes me feel unsettled. I would have preferred to put away each of my machines like one says good bye to a friend. Now they are out of my control without so much as a farewell ssh tunnel. I would have liked, at least, to have had the opportunity to remove my own user accounts. TNO, baby. TNO.
Also weird: When Gaia finishes school this year: I will have no connection or reason to go to Oconomowoc. For anything. Ever. Unless I want to. I have been working in Oconomowoc in one way or another since 1994. First at Olympia Resort, then at the Oconomowoc Focus newspaper, and then at the hospital.
Actually, the hardest part (that I’m going to talk about publicly) is accepting all the love and support that all of you have shown me. It really is amazing how many of you cared to let me know you were thinking of me and my family. Thank you. All of you. It means a lot. More than that.
So… what about ‘The Future?’
Well, my $100 startup, Pretty Good Content is suddenly going to get a lot more of my attention. And I’ll be doing lots more things in the coming weeks to demonstrate that to as many people as I can. I’m planning on giving free monthly content talks. Watch this space for details– and tungle me if you’re interested in booking one for your venue.
Even if you don’t have a venue, tungle me anyway. I suddenly have a lot more time on my hands to get together and make stuff. I honestly believe that there is a ton of great work being done out there. And I honestly believe most people could use some help telling their stories. I want to help most people tell their stories. This smells of opportunity.
Seriously. Lets get all excited and make stuff together. You’d be surprised how much a little of my time can make your business better– and how much fun we can have together. You have stories to tell. Let me help you tell them.
So there’s that.
I started my day today wondering how I was going to find the time to keep cranking on developing Pretty Good Content into a full-time business. I end the day with a much clearer picture of how that is going to happen.
I want to steal a bit from another writer who really inspires me, and this borders on silly fanboyism, so I’m a little embarrassed. For whatever reason, I started today by re-reading Merlin Man’s essay “Cranking”. At the end of that essay, Mann writes that walking away from his book contract was not him quitting on his book, but rather, it was “doubling down” on producing a kind of work in which he can be proud.
I’m doubling down, my friends. I’m doubling down.
Do: Create a fairly complex alternative or future earth society featuring amazing technology and an significant technology and wealth gap between those with the most and those with the least.
Do not: Fail to build a culture of the larger society that jibes with the smaller.
Do: Cast your entire story with entirely unlikeable flat characters, so long as there are one or two minor characters who are endearing, but equally as flat, to keep the reader interested.
Do not: Kill and or dismiss those characters early in the story.
Do not: Fail to really flesh those characters out beyond the most basic “good and pure” archetypes.
Do Not: Make hunting so easy! Even if you’re really really good at it, sometimes you can’t just go out and catch two rabbits and a fat squirrel just because you’re that awesome.
Do: Put your characters into grueling, fight-for-their-life situations where everything seems impossible and there seems to be no way out.
Do not: Bring that situation to an incredible climax with your heroes standing on top of a giant thanksgiving cornucopia surrounded by werewolf clones of their previously defeated enemies. I mean, really?
Do: End the story with a dramatic self-sacrifice on the part of one or both of the major characters.
Do not: Fail to pull the trigger on that self-sacrifice.
Do not: Suddenly turn your heroic bad-ass into a sniveling love-sick puppy dog.
Do: End on a cliffhanger so I have to read the next book, even though, really, who cares?
In this photo from the National Library of Scotland, Soldiers in dungarees and helmets struggle to remove a fallen tree trunk from a river. The soldiers have little choice in the matter, but to do what soldiers do, and soldier. But the trees are kind of in the same situation of not having really any choice about what happens here. Although they are badly damaged, many of the tress in this photo are still alive, doing what trees do: treeing.
In my dream last night, I was told by a being whose face I cannot remember, that things were as they are supposed to be and that the oppression that you’re feeling right now is a part of how charge is inspired amongst as many people as possible.
On a personal level, it may feel like it’s all about you, but the reality is we are all part of a larger movement that will take that pain and sadness and channel it toward the undoing of a great wrong.
The question is: do we have the strength to turn that struggle into wisdom?
The being was wrapped in a brilliant golden light and was wearing a red ring set in dark gold.
This morning I found myself thinking of “Keep Going.”; specifically about there being two of everything in life, and that the uncomfortable and sad things in life are not about knocking you down, but teaching you to be stronger.
I think we’ve all learned to be a little stronger in the past few months, and I am proud to learn alongside you all.
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