Promises to myself made on a blog

It is known that if you write your goals down, you are more likely to achieve them. What if you write them down and then blog about them? Let’s find out.

GAFT trex color2.png

So we’re clear: this is not my personal goal.

I have concluded that it is achievable to publish the Ruleset for Go Action Fun Time at least in PDF form by the end of the month. That said, the written goal is end of the quarter. There are LLC and ISBN issues to be worked through, and I am a prisoner of administrative response times.

After the Ruleset comes the Cast Directory of sample player characters, and other useful non-player characters, and then the Setting Bible with my lunatic visions of the fantastic past and speculative future.

There exists an online version of the rules, which I am still editing. I was doing these in conjunction with the text version, but that proved too time consuming. Character Creation is fairly consistent. Doing Things is synched with General Task Rolls and Movement. After that, you’re looking at older language and sketchy links.

A draft of the Setting Bible is also on the site, with original typos and everything. Use with caution.

I have a great admiration for people who design blank character sheets. That proved more difficult than any other single aspect.

The Ruleset may be the only book I write for this game with active links. Because geez.

Some other lessons:

  • Think through your outline and use it. It will save your sanity.
  • Pick a font early and stay with it. I spent a lot of time fixing fonts.
  • Remember you are teaching. It is OK to repeat things. If you are not sure which way to present the information, present it in all of the ways. People learn differently.
    • Examples! And give those some thought so as to be instructive.
  • Simple is the enemy of detailed.
  • Perfect is the enemy of done.

Later in this space, we will have more on ISBN numbers, and maybe the LLC process.

GAFT cover image

This is from the “Pilot Episode”

On more personal notes, we will soon blog about how hygiene is the enemy of sustainability, and the sad, but hopefully improving reasons that I know this.

We will also learn about my stupid and wholly self-created first world problem and its consequences. Hint: I currently have (and am paying for) both Dish and Cox cable – at least for the next 30 days.

Relatedly: don’t lose your contracts during a move – you may find a need to refer to them before making stupid decisions.

 

WORD COUNT:

I  edited a 30k document in two weeks.

Also, I turned a 400 word narrative into a thousand word epic poem because I hate myself. And I need to fix a bunch of meter issues, because I still hate myself.

But I have finished this blog entry, and I promised myself a cocktail. That promise I shall keep.

Now we know.

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Markers were passed in our absence

So I’ve been busy, even if I haven’t been scrupulous about documenting that all here. Between my last post and this, some markers were passed, and we note lessons from those here. This is the personal part of my personal blog here. If you were hoping for random Facts about Odd Things, that must wait for later posts.

Last year vs this year: same guy, better lighting.

I have been an official resident of this house for a year. At just about that time, I wrote down some goals. I am pleased to report that a year later I have made maybe 60-70% of the progress towards those goals as I would like. Some of those shortfalls – particularly sorting the garage and the bookshelf situation – were unintended consequences of hosting Earl indefinitely.

Earl is in Louisiana working with the Salvation Army at least through Christmas. I do not know his plans past that, and I suspect that he does not know them either.

The follow-up to One of 64 is on hold to make room for pushing Go Action Fun Time into a real product. I have abandoned self publishing One of 64 for financial reasons. Every time I put together the money to move that forward some disaster cuts in front of it in line. So now it sits with a publisher awaiting a Decision. That decision would inform the pace (and perhaps direction) of the sequel.

http://www.mysticpublishersinc.com/store/product/beanstalk-and-beyond/

An actual book you can buy!

The sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond, provisionally titled Taliesin’s Last Apprentice, moves along decently. I’m only a few months behind on that.

Some of the shortfalls – particularly wordcount issues in the last few months – came as a result of having a girlfriend (I am cleared to use this word I believe) who does not live in town. It has been my serious philosophy that building relationships is not a waste of time, but the 5 hour drive time one way does expand the amount of time I am not really wasting.

It was loosely a year between the time I accepted emotionally that my marriage was over, and my accepting emotionally that this woman I am driving across the desert to see is my girlfriend.

 

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Still going…

Relatedly, I have passed 100000 miles in my 2013 Kia Soul. At that mileage, the only mechanical failures are the CD player, and I cannot roll down two of the windows from the driver’s door console buttons (they still roll down from the individual switches on those doors). That’s it. Everything else works. On we go.

I did get some writing done.

BCDT-from-track

Are we trespassing yet?

Over on Are We Lost Yet? we explore the remains of the Black Canyon City Dog Track.

And you can poke around in crumbling remains of how men once made money from shadows by getting dogs to run around a track as fast as they could. But watch your step.

While researching that, I found the Rogue Columnist – who chronicles the underside of Phoenix, among other things. I got lost in his work the way I usually get lost in TV Tropes.

Over at Curious Continuity, I muse about time travelers creating scars in time – into which they cannot travel. By time travel standards, that sentence makes as much sense as most.

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This can never happen – and not just because of copyrights.

And we are editing Go Action Fun Time into something more like a published product and less like internal notes.

GAFT cover image

This is from the “Pilot Episode”

If you made it down this far, we’re friends. And friends sometimes want to know what I want for Christmas. I’m a middle-aged man with more stuff than I can store, so consumables (whiskey!) are always appreciated. Also, I am currently without a decent BlueTooth speaker like all the kids have.

Or the means to play a CD in my car.

Now we know.

 

Goofing off is maintenance. Yeah. That’s it.

I have managed my sleep schedule poorly over the past few days, and here I am still awake. And it is not so much what I have learned but what I must remember: relaxation is maintenance.

There are studies. You’ll have to look them up yourselves – I’m on like 3 hours of sleep.

I have binge-watched the final season of House of Cards so you don’t have to. At it’s best it was kinda a mirror-universe West Wing with a little bit of Godfather. The last season is more Godfather than West Wing, until it just hits the side of the shark tank and descends into soap.

Spoilers: they are all eaten by sharks.

Is it wrong that I was kinda rooting for Doug Stamper? I guess because he was not beholden to any interests other than his own insanity.

Earlier this week, useful things were done.

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The enemy of productivity

If you are worried that I will drown poor Vet Bill in a bucket, don’t. We are warming up to each other. Currently, most of my problems with her are kitten problems rather than psycho-stalker problems. I have removed her from my desk four times while writing this post – and counting.

You can still have her if you want – but there is no emergency.

(I see that smirk.)

I have the house to myself, and mostly back to the way I want it. But I still have a lot of soda and chips that I will not eat. Open to suggestions.

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Point Reyes National Seashore

Over on Are We Lost Yet? I recall backpacking at the Point Reyes National Seashore.

I am about to throw the kitten off my desk again. Excuse me.

Over on Curious Continuity, we review the first half of the new Doctor Who season.

 

And on Fantastical History, I explain how folktales about Jack are based upon his autobiography. Or the other way around. 

 

Maybe I’m tired for good cause?

I have thrown Vet Bill off for the 6th time.

Now we know.

 

Winning for Losing

You can’t win them all. In fact, most of us lose about half the time. It’s how you respond to losing that determines the cost of the loss. We’ll get into some examples, but first,  a self-serving announcement:

 

There is a new version of Are We Lost Yet? With content. Right now.

 

And more to come.

Anyone who feels sorry for poor Brett Kavanaugh should reflect that he is now on the Supreme Court anyway despite his poor performance in the worst, surreall, contrived job interview ever seen on non-fiction television. He won. Don’t feel sorry for the losers. That defeats the point of that sentiment.

The Suns fired Ryan McDuh a year too late. (Did you really need to keep him around to draft DeAndre Ayton at #1? My daughter could have made that pick, and she uses words likes “sportsball”.) The Suns went from having four starting quality point guards under cintract to having zero under contract – and no prospects of acquiring one. They have run out of time to rebuild. They must at least flirt with .500 THIS SEASON or even guys like me are lost to them.

As it stands, they have a 30 win season at most.

Our old friend Neil Patel blogs about his blog failures.

 

The big lesson I learned was that knowing SEO isn’t enough. Even if you can build links, write content, and climb to the top of Google fast, you won’t stay if people hate your content (or product/service).

 

On a more personal note:

Last Saturday [10/6/18] I wrenched my back but good trying to wrestle an 80 lb chain hoist back into its box. The box in question was above my knees, but below my waist, so I really had nothing to work with but my arms and my back, and despite what we may have learned watching the Six Million Dollar Man in the 1970’s ou can’t do much with your arms without involving your [crunch!]… OWWW Dammit!

I swear I heard a crunch sound.

Before anyone panics, it is my opinion that I strained one muscle, and aggravated my arthritis. It’s arthritis. It’s not a bulge or a rupture or anything of the sort.

One of my rules of this blog is that it is not for whining, but there are some aspects of dealing with lower back pain that are less obvious, and perhaps instructive.

A good night’s sleep is about the worst thing I can do for my aggravated back. It stiffens up to wrought iron, and every move hurts. I have to psych myself up to put on socks. Worse, getting ready for work involves standing for 30-40 minutes, and bending slightly to deal with this or that on the dresser or counter or desk.

But Ibuprofen, and an ice-pack for the drive in help a lot, and by the time I get to the job-site, I have been able to get out of the car with less drama than it took getting into it.

This situation, and the single malt scotch I bought to “medicate” it with, not house guests have helped the word count. Low level pain will absolutely compound exhaustion. Leading to that good night’s sleep that is nearly the death of me every morning.

Can’t win for losing.

I don’t know what that says about my character, but that is how I’m dealing with it. It has been getting a little better every day – so I continue.

Now we know.

 

 

Poorly blogging about smoke alarms in 3 or 5 acts

Every once in a while all I have learned in a week cannot be connected by anything particularly clever, and I just spew random facts.  I don’t even have anything to yell about. Next weekend I will be in town doing nothing that is open to the public or of general interest.

The most interesting parts of my life right now are off limits to this blog: the antics of my house-mates, finances (in any detail), and my still essentially non-existent love life. There is, to be clear, no actual news on any of those fronts. But there are plans, some clearly insane, and they are off limits here. Because I don’t want to break news to (or tip off) people who actually know me through my silly blog.

So lessons learned that are in-bounds, going roughly backwards through the week.

GAFT cover image

This is from the “Pilot Episode”

In the draft of Go Action Fun Time, I write at some length about how episodes (aka adventure or modules in other games) are broken into the traditional 3 act structure for a lot of reasons.

Episodic TV actually runs in five acts. But, in our defense, those are hour long dramas. We are simulating a half-hour action cartoon. Besides, I like what I wrote, and I am keeping to 3 acts.

I may though, go to 12 pt courier on everything, in line with these standards. 

 

On a busy construction site, late in the game (when guys like me saunter in) there will be active smoke alarms. And if your work makes a lot of smoke or dust, you will set these off, and this is bad. Especially if you’re working (as a hypothetical example)  on a partially occupied hospital. You might be tempted, rather than go through the process of filling out forms and getting clearance to bypass the alarms, to just tape over them. Don’t. Not just because it’s not the Right Procedure, and not just because the tape might not work anyway, but because the act of removing that tape will absolutely set off the alarm.

And then you find yourself standing in the warm sunshine of a late August morning in Phoenix with every other person on the jobsite while the GC goes on about this at some length, and threatens to dismiss the next clown he catches doing this.

Writer at work

The cheesy graphic Patel used. I learn from the best!

On occasion my curiosity mixes with abit of greed and I wonder how I might make some money off a blog. This leads me predictably to other blogs blogging about monetizing blogs. The best I’ve come across in NeilPatel.com, where the always upbeat Patel will explain with a breezy blog voice and a ton of screen-captured statistics how everything I do here at WHWL? is wrong.

  • My posts are too short (1800-2400 words is what you want for Google to take you seriously and yet still have a chance of someone finishing the article.  My posts weight in around 850)
  • My posts are not focused on a  single topic that would be known to attract readers. They are usually a little more focused than this, but not much. But I do not research possible topics by SEO strength.
  • My posts are not structured. I do not do number lists or this-then-that explainers.
  • I don’t have consistent video content.
  • I don’t have pop-up boxes asking you to subscribe.
  • I don’t buy targeted advertising

What impressed me most about Patel though is his easy-breezy writing voice that whisks you through some relative thick material before you even know it.

https://neilpatel.com/blog/how-to-become-a-better-blog-writer-in-30-days/

https://neilpatel.com/blog/content-marketing-works/

https://neilpatel.com/blog/the-future-of-seo/

 

There is no decent place to eat breakfast on a weekend morning in Show Low unless you are local. Conversely, I was able to get a decent breakfast with little drama in the far smaller burg of Overgaard. Go figure.

Bongo Overgaard

Breakfast in Overgaard

I was up in and around Show Low for a friend’s wedding. I shouldn’t get seriously drunk at wedding receptions, it seems. I’m still a bit too bitter.

I enjoyed the drive home though.

Bongo SaltRBridge

WORD COUNT

Last week’s What Have We Learned? = 1000 words

Monday Night Writer’s Group = 5000 words (even though I was the only one who showed up). (Again.)

2 hours editing Go Action Fun Time = 1000

2 hours revising my novelette “Enrinyes” = 1000

Good thing too! The file labelled “submittal copy” still had “2nd draft” pasted in the header among other problems.

Thursday night writer’s Group = 500 (this group is still well-attended!)

Hand-written draft of Taliesin’s Last Apprentice (the sequel to Beanstalk and beyond) = 900 words.

4900 words. Close enough.

[750 words]

The waiting and the leaving

I’m leaving tomorrow for a week. That’s the lead. It’s not life changing, but I am fairly excited.

I’m being sent to a 3 day class in Berkeley California. I am driving there, starting tomorrow, because I like camping and hate airports. Also, my company is indifferent as to whether I expense the mileage or the plane fare.

I can’t expense extra hotel days, which is fine, because I have campgrounds sussed out. At the end of the blog I’ll add the Google map. But that is a notion, it is not a guarantee.

I imagine I’ll have learned some things when I get back.

Meanwhile, I have been waiting for things.

I am waiting for new glasses. My current ones are scratched to shit, and I kinda dread driving across country with every headlight a halo, but that will not stop me.  At the optometrist, I learned that I do not have glaucoma, but I do have thick corneas, [640 something, I know not what. Most people are 500 something] which distorts that annoying puff test. So I got to sit through a super annoying ultra-sound on my eyes.

That’s the price of a good optometrist, I suppose.

I have been waiting for Menasha Ridge (the publisher of my hiking guides) to tell me what exactly happened to Are We Lost Yet?. There’s a link on the sidebar – so you can see the WordPress error statement that has replaced my longtime hiking blog.

Hopefully, I will have some sort of update when I return. I plane to do some hiking, and would like to have some established place to write about it.

I’m waiting on the inevitable teacher’s strike. Happily, I do not have kids in school. (Universities aren’t the issue). But I do get to watch a political class that rose to power partly by demonizing teachers and glorifying ignorance come to terms with the actual consequences of systemically starving the main reason the state government was chartered in the first place.

I have zero consequence that our good ‘ol state legislature can come up with anything before endless summer starts early.  I could go into how the state legislature has not been in compliance with the state constitution on funding standards for decades, but that would be Brazen Wonk territory, and I still have things to pack.

I’m waiting for the season premier of Westworld, but I’ll be at Point Reyes National Shoreline instead. I have been here before. Now I go alone, of course, and have been re-configuring the camping supplies for just one person. That has proved sadder than I expected.

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Bongo at Point Reyes in 2016.

I have been waiting for my taxes to be filed. There is a delay on the part of the party I am still legally entangled with. No one’s mad – I’m getting a little money back, but not enough to change my life. But I need the paperwork back to I can settle my house insurance refund and  – yeah, I’m bored writing this sentence.

I won’t itemize it here, but even with the travel days, I should end the week at 4500 words.

Here’s the map. I come back to Phoenix either late April 28 or early April 29.

The Plan Going Forward (2018+)

I am not one to make a big thing out of the new year. It’s one more day;, an arbitrary marker. Nothing really starts and stops except the tax year. A measure of how seriously I take this: I once made a New Year’s to never make another New Year’s resolution, and I have faithfully kept that for decades.

That this weekend marks a change of direction in my life is a coincidence. From the time my life fell out from underneath me  to the point where I could realistically transition from damage control to forward progress again happened to line up with the new year.

I am emotionally reconciled that my marriage is over. Most of the financial transition that situation forced has been completed, or is on schedule to be completed. I have completed moving the giant pile of crap that I take responsibility for from one address to another.

I have a pile of old tax returns to set on fire in my new yard, and on that occasion, I will allow myself some self pity over this matter for one last evening. You are welcome to join me. I will be drinking good whisky.

Then we are done with all of that shit.

What follows now is as much for my reference as any other purpose. If you came just for writing advice, or random facts, or the antics of octopi, nothing below here will satisfy that. It’s all about me. If you stop reading here I will not take that personally.

People have a much higher chance of achieving goals if they write them down. I am putting myself publicly (even though I average like six hits per post – this is a public blog) on the spot for this.

Here’s the plan going forward.

Finish the damn books.

A chapter a week in both the Jack sequel and  the 64 sequel, and starting in spring some non-fiction project as well.

I have no shortage of ideas, and have been blessed with the ability to describe them in writing at a professional level. The trick now is to keep my ass in the chair.

It is a known dynamic of publishing that if you get three good books to market, you begin to develop a readership, and by ten books, this becomes a feedback loop swelling into a following.

They have to be good books – but I feel I am up to that. Quantity/time is my major challenge.

This can be done if 5000 words per week becomes my minimum. The default format for this blog will be documenting my progress towards that. (And other things that come to mind.)

This week I hit 4000, counting this blog. Since I’m working tonight, that’s going to stand.

 

Divesting myself of all this crap in a rational manner

I still find myself valuing things and stuff more than perhaps would be best-practice Buddhism. Couldn’t quite bring myself to leave it all for the dumpster. I left a lot – but that is kinda hard to tell from walking through my house now. About half of my total possessions are still in piles. That you can walk around my house testifies to my ability to stack efficiently more than my economy of inventory.

The plan, over the next few years, is to get myself down to an inventory level that is actually mobile. To get there, some things have to happen:

  • For everything I acquire, something has to go. I am replacing, not adding.
  • I have some memorabilia and collectibles that are wasted on a thrift store shelf. Collectors who want these things will seek them on the internet, and I plan to put them there for them to find. That project replaces the non-fiction book until it is done.
  • I’m going to limit my books to what can fit on the bookshelves. I’ve given myself some time for this, first because I lost nearly half my bookshelf space in the move, and second to give myself some time to read these books before I get rid of them somehow. Also crucial to this plan – more bookshelves.
  • Now that I have an appropriate space, I’m going to transform this pile of tools and hardware into a workshop, and make stuff out of the accumulated materials that I couldn’t bring myself to toss in the trash. Maybe some of it will be worth something – I don’t know.  There is no downside to trying.
  • A workshop also enable more efficient home repair and renovations, which will be ongoing.  I rent this place well below market value on the assumption that I take care of upkeep and repairs.
  • I am going to eliminate my unsecured debt. I have a budget that allows me to live within my base pay, so I can throw my extra income (Rhino and what-have-you) into debt relief until it is gone.

For the record, this is nearly identical to my plan before my life fell apart. It took me three months, but I am back to where I can pursue that again with a straight face. This point coincidentally marks the promise of new year.

 

Coda: The end game

If you made it this far, I can tell you how it ends. I am resolved not to die in this house surrounded by piles of stuff I can no longer manage. My grandfather has already done that gag, in the very room I write this from, and I would find a different path.

I daydream of a compound, shared with other parties, where we have combined resources into a big workshop, a big kitchen and an expansive library. I don’t have much to add to the kitchen, but I can help out with the other two. Then all I need is a bedroom, and a place to park the RV I otherwise work out of. By work out of, I mean drive somewhere nice, write through my 14 day stay limit, drive somewhere else, come back to the compound when the circle leads me there. That would be my ideal endgame.

There are, of course, a lot of moves between here and there. But now we know how I want it to end up.

Then I’ll figure out what comes next.