Intro to the Next Story with Spoilers!!

Hi there. It feels like it has been awhile since my last post. A few things happened that have affected my intent to write and post more often. 1) I have been busy with work, which is a good thing. 2) I have actually done some social type stuff the past week. Granted, not a ton of stuff, but for a not terribly social guy, it was a lot. 3) I have been writing but the Dream Angie post got me writing what is turning out to be a not so simple or short story.

Spoiler Alert – I am going to give you the salient framework details right now. I think this won’t ruin the experience of reading the story, since the point is more about learning how to understand my reaction to these details, how to accept them, and to attempt to discover how this has affected me unconsciously so that I can hopefully overcome any lasting negative impact and maybe become a slightly better person, and because I will fill the story with Mesmerizing Excitement – Romance – Hapless Heroes – The Theatre! – Vivacious Maidens – and A Dragon! Ok, maybe no dragon.

Spoiler Begins – Two critical relationships in my life have followed this exact pattern. I found a fantastic friend that excited my inner core on more levels than I knew existed. We became very close. I met and loved each girl’s mother. We both started to think that the relationship could and should evolve past the realm of friendship. We decided to start dating. I was blissfully happy. And within 24 hours or so of the moment we decided to be more than friends, the girl ended the relationship and did not talk to me again for a long time. Spoiler ends.

That project is coming along and it feels pretty good. When I began, I was in a lot of pain and very confused and I wrote like the wind. I have a little more distance from the gooey emotional core now which helps with the editing and shaping but tends to blunt my creative production. I have not yet found a consistent method for tapping into the emotional forge for creation without getting a little loopy in the process.

I will carry on with this project. It has already been very helpful to me and I hope it will be at least interesting if not also helpful for you. I reached out to the lady in question for the first incident to tell her about the project, that I wanted to blog about it, and ask permission to use her name. She said that was fine and we have had some nice correspondence. Just that has helped more than I expected.

I don’t know about you guys, but I carry stuff around – forever. In the physical world, I can be brutally unsentimental. I do consistently purge the physical objects one accumulates in life. But inside, inside I keep far too much and I keep the wrong kinds of stuff. This may even have a correlation to my reluctance to experiment to much with the Memory Palace. While it is true that I am not a terribly visual dude, I know that the wing of bad memories inside of me looks like the last moment of Raiders of the Lost Ark, just a huge warehouse of full shelves, row after row of memories of bad and painful stuff.

I don’t get it. My life has not been bad. And I don’t want to give the wrong impression either. I am not your sad sack mopey Emo boy. There have been a few particularly difficult times where I let those dark and painful feelings overwhelm me, but mostly they do not. At least that is what I think.

So I am going to pull some specific bad and painful memories into the light and look at them and share them with you. Maybe if I can find a way to lessen the impact of these, it will help me to more successfully deal with the rest, and even learn to quit storing that crap in the first place. I say Dream Big!

* Note – I want to give a big shout out to my friend Karen. She has her own blog and is a continuous inspirational source to me. Her blog lives up to its name to the fullest, Uncomfortably Honest and Honestly Uncomfortable. When I started my blog, I longed to write with the clarity, intensity, level of self examination and revelation, and sheer truth that Karen does regularly. I am trying to move in that direction.

Pre-JMT Aftermath Potluck

And you thought the JMT stories were finished just because we finished the JMT? Silly Rabbit. There will be a few tales from “Green Valley Days: three weeks at Casa de Luna” and a few brief tales about the epic-in-its-own-right cross-country adventure back to PA. For now, some odds and ends.

This post does contain homework for you all.

JMT Video: I have been working diligently on creating a movie about our JMT experience. All the pics are in it, all the video, and some other material as well. It is about 90% complete now. I am not sure how long it will take to polish the last 10%, but it will be before the winter holiday season. It *should* be available to download for the tech savvy, but I will also format it to play on DVDs in a regular old DVD player. So homework for you guys:

  1. Send me a message, leave a comment, dispatch a carrier pigeon – let me know if you want to possess a copy of this movie and if you prefer download or DVD. This is not a contest and you won’t be judged. I don’t care if you don’t want to see the thing, but many have expressed interest.
Maximus!
Maximus!

Blog Posting Schedule: For a few nerdy reasons, I watch the “site stats” for my blog with interest searching for patterns. I have not found any patterns, but it is fun to look. If I am in internet silence for a month or more, my first one-three posts generally get 45-75 views each day. If I post once a day for two weeks or so, I generally get 3-10 views each day – and at that level, I pretty much know who you are. I will be doing more writing, more regularly, for the foreseeable future. For me, the primary joy is in the writing itself. I like sharing and love feedback and discussion, but I do not write in search of praise. So, I figured that I should ask you guys what you prefer? I got good feedback from the group of regular readers on issues related to the length of individual posts and when to break longer tales into chapters, and in that same spirit I ask you:

  1. What would you like the “publication” schedule to be? Do you want one post a day? One post a week? Two or three times a week? Or, also important to learn, does your interest in reading here depend more on your schedule than on when new posts do or do not appear?
MickeyMick!
MickeyMick!

On the Horizon: We are about to delve into somewhat different topics here than have previously been explored. I have a few things cooking and am not sure which will be ready first, but there is going to be a series on politics in general, the efficacy or not of voting, a tiny bit about the recent elections and other related bits. It will be difficult to do that without touching on many issues, so a discussion of religion is coming to BOC. All of that material will have some philosophical elements, but there are a few other more technical bits of philosophy to be discussed as well with one of the primary aims being to un-technical-ize them.

Meeting of Minds...
Meeting of Minds…

For some lighter fare, I still owe a brief account of the Conversation Desk, pitons, and a close corollary, the “Real Quick”.

Consider completing your optional homework assignments and enjoy the day folks.

To promote or not promote

Kelly, for you i break internet silence a little bit sooner than i had planned.

My super cool friend had an interesting question come up on her SECOND blog and a proper reply required pictures, so i figured a post was more appropriate than a simple comment.

The story begins here at One Of Those Women.

I don’t generally promote my blog as i put up content far to irregularly to actively encourage followers whom will probably become disenchanted with the spotty flow of stories. But i have had business cards of one sort or another since 2001 and i L O V E them.

Initially i felt a little strange because they say stuff like “CEO”, “Senior Partner”, “Owner” and other kinds of pretentious things. But, the value of not having to use my terrible handwriting to relay info or spell my name, email address, and website data over and over – irreplaceable!

And i am Card crazy. I have a few in my wallet for those everyday needs.

I have a fancy-ish brown case i use for Suit and Tie gigs and a simpler black case that i keep in my car – along with a baggie of cards for re-fills.

inside
inside

On a slightly related note, i just discovered this app for turning your iPhone into a card scanner. It works great, better than my old stand alone biz card scanner, saves directly into the native Mac address book, and is super cheap when compared to the several hundred dollar stand alone models.

outside
outside

I am not sure about finding cooler looking containers for less stuffy occasions than the suit and tie crowd, but i usually find these in the men’s section of large department stores or luggage stores.

(Notice how i am shamelessly cross-promoting both of our blogs?)

I liked your answer and approach to the question and think you are right on the money. At the same time, you write good stuff, and often. Outside of kid related affairs, i’d say promote the peanuts out of that site and your bad self.

As for me – i should be pumping out some updates this week and resume and conclude the John Muir Saga as well. I intend to briefly go over some of the post JMT events at Casa de Luna, the never ending drive back across the country, and a few events back in a little town in South East PA.

Brief Interlude

I apologize for the delay in concluding the JMT posts.

Chickens in Sandston VA
Chickens in Sandston VA

I have returned to a little town in South East PA where my folks and my mail live and have a long list of chores to get sorted.

I still have Jun with me, probably until Saturday night.

And, back in the JMT story, we are coming up on the end of two things – hiking with Pappa Joe and the end of the JMT.

I don’t know if it is unusual or not, but it is almost as hard to write about those two endings as it was to live through them the first time around.

I won’t leave you hanging too long, and i will throw you a bone…

N: “The werewolf doesn’t get us.”

JS: “What?”

N: “We boys don’t get eaten by the werewolf.”

JS: “What’d you go and tell me that for?”

N: “Well, you looked nervous…”

– –

Cows in Sandston VA
Cows in Sandston VA

More soon.

N

A La Carte

I may actually get back to some more regular posting. Things are beginning to mellow out a bit on Bumblebee so i will have more time to both collect and share my thoughts. And, i will have more time to get into a few projects.

Sunday Morning on Bumblebee 1
Sunday Morning on Bumblebee 1

Today is the 28th day on the new meds for Lucas and things are really going well. He is drinking a normal amount of water again, he has been doing more running in the park, and he has tried to engage a few dogs in play. He is still an old guy, but he is getting some increased mobility. I don’t know if that is due to getting off of the Phenobarbital, a positive side effect of the new meds, or just the result of feeling better in general. But he is beginning to do some of his old dances and i expect to see him do his happy little skip thing any day now.

Sunday Morning on Bumblebee 2
Sunday Morning on Bumblebee 2

His appetite is also more normal now. He doesn’t seem to have that extreme craving for food that he has had most of the past year as a result of chemical imbalances due to the Cushings. I just switched him to dry food without yogurt in the mornings, and a bowl of yogurt without dry food in the evenings. His digestion has settled back down and his routine is much more like it was a year ago than the roller coaster ride of the past 4 months or so.

Snowy Dog Park
Snowy Dog Park

I will keep the Lucas updates coming, but now for something else – FOOD!

View of Mingus Mountain from the park
View of Mingus Mountain from the park

I love to cook and have made a ton of food since i came out to AZ, but i have primarily made the same three to four dishes over and over. With some of the hardships behind us – i can focus on some new recipes and varying our menu. So i plan to have some more cooking tales for you. Dovetailed with the cooking tales – shopping tales. My favorite place out here has to be the local Safeway. I always leave that place with a big smile and a story or two. The vegetable section is pretty good, but we did just get our very own Trader Joe’s which should be able to supplement any ingredient holes that Safeway cannot fill.

Friday's Breakfast
Jalapeño cheese grits, black beans with veggies and spices, crunchy tortillas and O.J.

Some of these i already have good recipes for and some still need some research:

Sushi – i have some skill with this using Nori, but want to try my hand at going Nori-free.

Egg Drop Soup – good suggestions for adjustments in the comments!

Hot and Sour Soup – also here

StirFry variants with noodles instead of rice

Fried Rice variants

And an awesome Thai style peanut butter noodles and veggies fry-up my man Raven turned me on to a few years back

Saturday's Stir Fry Prep
Mung bean sprouts, broccoli, radishes, purple cabbage, cubed and fried tofu, baby bells, green bell pepper, grated ginger, chinese snow peas, carrots, red onion, celery, garlic and spices
All together
All together
The Big Salad
The Big Salad

Stay Tuned…

Silence Like A Knife

Howdy. Time for some general housekeeping and updates.

Lucas and I are back in PA. He is doing very well, maybe even better than he was a month ago. He is drinking a little less water, and has not been getting me up in the middle of the night more than twice a week. Instead of every two hours, he seems to only need to go out every three hours or so now.

My dad and I finally decided to throw in the towel on my Saturn, and I am now rockin’ out in what one of my friends calls “the nerd car”. Yep. I am stylin’ in a 2008 Prius and lovin’ it. I have cleaned and emptied the Saturn, taken some nice photos, and will be throwin’ that up onto the list of Craig hopefully tonight. It still has a few issues (throttle body and wiring harness) but it runs, the body/frame/interior are in super shape. It has a rebuilt tranny still under warranty, and a new engine still under warranty.

I had a lot of things on my mind and weighing on my being for my last few weeks in NOVA. Under the strain, I went the less productive route of worry and wallow instead of ACTION. Some of that was out of my control, but I did let some things slide. I have gotten out from under most of that weight. I am at least down to mostly only having to deal with my issues and not the issues of others.

I did a ton of writing during that time, but it is not stuff that I can share. I tell you only to say that while I have been silent, I have still been writing. I have not yet finished the conclusion of the tech piece, but I will begin releasing it anyway. The software has been released. Many of you probably already have it and are playing with it. But the set-up, and some of the forecasts on potential future issues may still be interesting to some of you.

The last day I felt able to do personal writing before being overwhelmed by outside forces, instead of writing the tech post conclusion, I started a piece on Epistemology. I love this topic. I have been fascinated by it long before I even knew what it was called, and every bit of study I have done relates in some way back to this topic.

My short-term blog goal is to finish the tech blog conclusion first, and then keep working  on the Epistemology blog as the pre-written tech material posts over the next few days. I cannot project a schedule for you on that as it is a huge topic. My final paper on this back in 1998 was 16 pages, and I barely scratched the surface. I have yet to get my arms around how to bite off small chunks for you here. But it will be good exercise.

Some of the current “other factors” – Vance is back in the hospital, my grandpa is here with us, and my mom is headed out of town. Vance came back from his 45th high school reunion with a severely swollen thumb and pain creeping down his wrist and arm. He was admitted to the hospital Tuesday morning. Nothing showed up on the x-ray or the MRI. After 13 hours or so on an IV, the swelling is reduced and the pain is receding. Nothing indicates a need for surgical intervention, but he will stay in the hospital for at least one more day, maybe more, on the IV until it seems safe to switch him back to antibiotic pills and outpatient care.

Not to make it all about me, but this does put a lot on my plate. Diabetic Pappy needs meds morning and night, blood sugar checks twice a day, shots three times a day, and a meal or snack every 2-3 waking hours. Ol’ Lucas has to walk at least every three waking hours. I need to visit with my pop in the hospital to chat and and bring him stuff. Then there is the acquisition and preparation of food, the cleansing of garments and linens, and everything else. I do not say this to complain. I am happy to help and glad that I happened to be here when such a need arose. But, it does limit my time for the writing.

Oh – and I need to throw my request out to the world for more work.

I have a wide range of experience and a broad skill set, am free to travel again in a few days, and would be happy to come house/pet sit for you while you travel for the holidays – or fix/clean your house for you while you are gone – or just about anything else. Let me know!

I do have some new-ish plans for full-time employment, but i am going to spend the holiday season preparing for that, seeing what happens with Lucas, and hopefully making some pocket money with other temp gigs.

Oh – one Halloween note. Halloween has not been very important to me since i was a lad, but it does mark one milestone for me. I can’t remember exactly when i became a vegetarian, but i know it was in the Fall of 1993. I remember eating meat that summer, living in a school bus with my bud in the mountains outside Lewiston, PA. I remember still eating meat for a while after that summer and cooking bacon for my girlfriend that i mostly lived with back in Richmond. But i know i stopped before we broke up, and she dumped me and threw me out on Halloween 1993. So, Happy 18 meat-free years to me!

Thanksgiving 2008 - Prescott Valley, AZ
Thanksgiving 2008 - Prescott Valley, AZ

Hope you all are well!

In Between Posts

I swear, i was having such a good day.

This is not the start of the tech series, just more filler. I have not abandoned that project, but even for me, sometimes life has other plans for how we get to spend our time.

The first 9-10 pages are solid, the next 2-3 are close, and i need to do some more on the conclusion. I could have begun releasing it on schedule, but i don’t like to do that – release some before the whole is finished. What if something in the conclusion needs some more supporting evidence? Or if i decide that the beginning is too tedious (even for my writing style) which it probably is, and decide to trim some fat?

Lucas and i are back in PA to handle some life admin. It was a good day knocking down the chores, for a while.

There we are on our quick walk around the block. I have the headphones in because i am not in the mood to chat with random folks today. I had another really upsetting encounter with one of my neighbors just being kind of a general “bitca” and it made me mad. I had even put the leash on Lucas to avoid this kind of thing. But these people don’t feel that they need much of an excuse i guess. I was not at all polite, but remained semi-calm and completely non-violent, so that’s a plus.

I need a little something both angrier and more triumphant (i am starting with Nazi Mind Reader and then just lettin’ it play through – you gotta make your own call – warning – RPG’s MC is unafraid of the big-boy words).

I would love to renew my driver’s license online, but there is no security on the PA DMV website. (Hackers have fun!) So there may be a money order in my future and the security of the US mail. Given that i can’t do it online, i may go in to get a new pic as well since i have about 40 pounds less hair these days. Actually kinda surprised that was not a requirement.

I still can’t find some of the physical records i left up here as everything has been moved around. I need to find those receipts, or pay $535 bucks i don’t have (that i have already paid once) to the IRS by the 22nd.

I am not so sure that yesterday was the right time to re-quit smoking after all. No, it is going to be OK – deep breaths, count to 5 million…

Quick Update

The Tech series is coming along nicely. I am through all the back story and working on the capabilities of new tech and how to use them and the view to “the future”. I expect to finish it this weekend and begin releasing an episode a day on Monday, maybe sooner if i have enough time to write and edit. If you ever wonder what tech guys do, or why they think that watching videos of conferences and reading articles should qualify as paid work time, or what the heck a CIO/CTO does – you are about to find out!

The dogs are all doing well. The training continues and with few set backs, everyone is developing nicely. Last night we had another successful three dog romp on the beach and a leash free walk home for all three boys. They did super.

We have a slight delay on the Man Box Vocal booth project, but nothing can defeat the unified force of The Schmied and the Fro.

Lucas and I are preparing for a quick trip to PA to see my folks, acquire some fall appropriate clothing, collect my golf clubs to help me get in shape for a tournament on the 26th, and handle some life admin stuff like driver’s license renewal and fun letters from the IRS.

I hope you all are well and enjoy the break in the rain today!

The next Blog Project

The results of the latest informal poll are in: you guys like the serialized story approach.
I checked with my two original reviewers, Kelly and Karen, before releasing the dog tales as a serial and they were both all for it. The Fromminatrix, one of my regular readers, reported some specific advantages of the format: the shorter length episodes are easier to digest in traditional blog-sized bites and the innate cliffhanger nature of the format creates a bit of anticipation for the next chapter/conclusion. So I am going with serials for some of the longer tales I plan to share here.

There will be some shorter tales, and some chatty general info posts (kinda like this one), but I am moving towards telling and sharing some longer stories.

Right now, I am working on some Tech related material. I don’t have it all plotted out yet, so I don’t know how many episodes, or how the material will be sorted. A lot of issues come into the interconnected larger story. I think I am going to have to write it out some more before the shape reveals itself.

The goal is to tell a tale about how we use tech (specifically media – TV, audio/e-books, movies, music – though the same principles should apply to most if not all forms of downloadable content) and how this has been and continues to change. One end goal is to talk about the new innovations Apple has released recently and will be releasing throughout this Fall (including iOS5) and how these innovations can change the playing field.

Some of the things that come up along the way: a bit of backstory on how the way I use media has changed (not the whole history of that, just since about 2006 when I went sans TV), how living in India impacted this story, a few bits on regulations and poor global vision, the limitations of the law and regulation, a view (or maybe two or three) of what content delivery may look like “in the future”, and a bunch of cool gadgets.

Towards the end, I will share with you what has been my vision for how to continue to adapt my system to greater efficiency while carrying less crap on the road, and finally how Apple has (seemingly) decided to solve a lot of these problems for me.

That is a lot. We shall see how it comes out. But I think that it will be fun and interesting even for folks who don’t care a lot about tech. If you do care about tech, and if you have some content portability issues that you are trying to figure out, you just may find some solutions as the story unfolds.

As always, thanks for reading. Thanks for your support. Your suggestions, comments, and input are always welcome.

Be back at you soon.

Wrap it Up

Fox! The magic dog.
The Mighty Fox!

*I can’t believe i did not use any pictures of Fox in the story. It was the immediate bond and friendship between Fox and Lucas that brought my friends and I together.

Writing, editing, selecting pics, working on the layouts, and releasing this story over the past week has given me even more time to consider things. I don’t really have any sweeping conclusions, but there are a few things that come up that we might file in the Lessons Learned folder.

Change the things you can. Part of the reason i was able to not pass my frustration on to the dogs and the crazy lady was that i did have a grasp on how much of this scenario was not only my fault but my creation. I failed to tighten Mickey’s collar. I should have already purchased a better leash for training Mickey. I should have used the extra 6′ straight leash that i keep in the back of my car and not messed with the retracty leash. I should never have brought them to this place. There are lots of other places i could have taken them (like to the other end of their normal Holmes Run route). Whenever i get mad at something like this, a scene from Half Baked (scene probably not suitable for all viewers) comes to the front of my mind and helps me smile, relax, and deal. It is a quick subtle moment, but jumped off the screen at me from the first viewing.

Thurgood: So, you wanna get together?

Mary Jane: Okay. Sure. When?

Thurgood: How ’bout right now? Just meet me at the place you dropped us off at.

Mary Jane: Okay. Can you give me half an hour?

Thurgood: Yeah, half an hour’s cool.

Mary Jane: Great.

Thurgood: All right. Okay.

Mary Jane: I’ll see you there.

Thurgood: (voiceover – internal narration) The date couldn’t have come at a worse time.

end scene

I did this to myself. There is no point in getting mad at the dogs. There is a little point, but no purpose or benefit to getting mad at the crazy lady. There is not even a point in getting mad with myself. Keep the good parts and try to learn from the rest.

*It has been 6 or 7 days since the incidents described and we have made more progress. I checked the maps and found a better place to park to access  the Shark Walk Trail without having to use the pool parking lot. I quit using the retracy leash and am using my spare 6′ straight leash on Mickey. If i need three leashes, M+M get the straight leashes and i put Lucas on the retracty thing, and everything is working out nicely.

I gave the boys a few nights off of the rigid schedule. They continue to perform well. Last night i took all three dogs on a shortened version of the nightly training walk and all three boys walked calmly in single file off leash all the way from the beach back to the house. There were so good i wanted to slaughter them a goat.

__

Any thoughts on the serialized release of this story vs. releasing it all at once as one long tale?

I did enjoy serializing it. While i wrote the whole thing at one time (August 27th), looking for how and where to chop it up (since it was not originally written as a serial), thinking about the layouts and which and how many pics to include, all gave me a chance to think more about how this information is presented. It also gave me a new window to view my own words. As stand alone chapters, each piece actually had its own character and central motif. Without doing it this way, there would have been far fewer pictures.

Thanks for reading. I may do a few more of my highly rigid reader polls to see what you folks might be interested in reading about next.

Stephen King is coming up soon.

I am taking notes (not meticulous) on a Buffy re-watch and will want to write about that.

I am excited about several current and pending tech issues and will write more on that. (Despite first appearances, i think iCloud is actually going to solve many of my problems!)

I don’t think any of the iCloud promo stuff will give you the level of detail that you will find here. I know, not a one-click solution. But downloading the podcast of this beats all the streaming versions i did find links to. I am directing you to the WWDC 2011, first video at the top of the list. Much of what i am excited about (including and beyond iCloud) is in this presentation.

(Free Tip: Watching the World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) every year is part of how i stay tech savvy. I started doing this in 2006, a few years before transitioning to Apple, and just dreamed and drooled over better made products and hardware and software that has actually been designed to work together.)

I am still toying with creating some kind of “Things i like” feature to collect lists and brief descriptions of podcasts, tech tricks, books and more.

There are some related brief essays about how i/we use/consume media.

And i am open to suggestions of other things not yet mentioned…

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