A guiding light, to…where?

Tried to write a haiku that was Epiphany-inspired.

Nothing was happening.

🙁

A guiding light, leading people across endless lands… to show up in some backwater burgh to find a King to worship, only to see Him in a less-than-kingly estate.

Metaphors abound in that. The idea of a way, a passage, traveling from one place to another for a goal… resonates with me in a major fashion. (Just see my recent posts on Sober Catholic about a movie: “The Way” and Camino playlist.)

The destination being the Messiah… in humble surroundings that were base even in that era; speaks to us who prefer comfort and convenience. Do we have the endurance and desire to “go the distance” to achieve whatever is at our “destiny?”

Would we be willing to traverse the “desert?”

And what will we find there? Our preconceptions fulfilled, or a surprise?

Posted in Vocation, Writing | Comments Off on A guiding light, to…where?

getting stoned

Several years ago there was a month-long writing activity on another blog where for every day during the month of January you’d write a “small stone” which is described as “…a polished moment of paying proper attention” . The exercise was hosted here: Writing Our Way Home: small stones, a “mindful writing” blog where that link has a much longer and detailed description of “small stones” and how they impact writing.

I’ll wait a few minutes while you click on that link and read the post.

…waiting…

…still waiting…

…dang, you read slow. I’ll continue and for those who dallied over there, you’ll have to catch up.

Since that old “small stones” activity is apparently no longer (it was annual and I did participate for one year, I think it was 2011 or 2012…) I’m going to attempt it here. With two differences:

  • I won’t be calling it “Small Stones” as that name belongs to the originators of the idea (they may or may not have trademarked the term, even if they didn’t I won’t appropriate it as I think that would be rude)
  • I’m not opening it up to contributors. If you’re a writer (published or wannabe), you can do it on your own blog or social media page.

I think this is a great way to get the ol’ creative juices flowing, to blog and write daily, and to use one of my favorite reasons for writing: THERAPY. Yes, I find writing therapeutic. Since I do not (still) write as much as I ought, it proves I’m still too messed up. (Hush up, Jerry.)

I’m adding a new blogpost category for this, see “Writing bits” in the categories drop down menu on the right. That’s also a good category to use for “writing prompts, which I never took advantage of, but think I need to.

It’s exercise. If I’m “blocked,” then I can get “unblocked.” Although it is obvious my problem is discipline. So, this might help with that.

Anyway, I’m going off now to review portions of my novel-in-progress. Before I close for the night I may post my first “small stone,” or “writing bit.” I think I have somewhere the “small stones” I wrote for the exercise. If/when I find them I may repost them here.

Welcome back to those who took a long time to read stuff on that other blog. Please scroll up and pick up where you left off…

EDIT: I’ve changed my mind about this. My eyeballs were bigger than my ability to carry it out. I’m leaving the post up, albeit strikethrough’ed.

Posted in Writing, Writing bits | Comments Off on getting stoned

It was brought to my attention by a commenter…

…to the previous post Sticker Shock where I waxed existentially on my blogging efforts that I should, and I quote:

“yea, wellllllll get off fakebook and write something meaningful. Or stupid. You get the point. Do I have to have a point?”

The commenter is an aging ex-hippie jerk-of- I mean jack-of-all-online-and-some-mentionable-real-world-trades named “BroJer.” He used to blog here: BroJer’s Blog.

The dude also happens to be one of my best online friends. Scratch online. One of my best real world friends. Saying stuff like that irritates him and makes his inner child cry. 😉

He also has a point. I can’t think of anything meaningful to write now, so I’m offering this stupid post inspired by BroJer. (Incidentally, I did realize his point a while ago in Becoming antisocial. )

Miscellany:

Update on the hosting issue mentioned in “Sticker Shock”: we renewed with BlueHost for three years; based on some PayPal donations from some people who didn’t get the hint that they shouldn’t, as well as additional monies found here and there as well as from my speaking with BH customer service this morning and getting a nice discount, we felt it worth it to continue with them.

Update on the “Becoming antisocial” post: I’ve reengaged GooglePlus as I heard about the recent design changes there and discovered that I like them and find them to be useful. So, I’m basically sticking with Facebook, Awestruck and GooglePlus, but probably restricted to days off from work and writing/blogging (save for Awe which I plan to checkin with daily for a few minutes).

There! I think this was stupid enough, with a dose of self-absorption thrown in, too, for added effect!

Posted in Blogging, Personal, Uncategorized, Writing | 1 Comment

Sticker shock

I am at a turning point or crossroads in my blogging. I received an email from our website’s hosting service and it was an offer to renew soon before the price goes up.

I had mistakenly assumed that the renewal option was for the price we had last paid for hosting. I was unawares that the cost had gone up to almost double.

Momentary panic-stricken fretting as to whether it’s worth to keep on doing this ensued. “This” as regarding this particular blog? Not really, as I don’t blog here much for now; the potential uses for this blog were probably mostly in the future. But my wife and I have four sites. The hosting is through BlueHost, and they offer competitive packages versus the rest and they excel at one thing: offering multiple domain names per account. This enables us to host all four of our sites through them. My primary blogging effort, Sober Catholic, is worth the cost (at least my wife thinks so 😉 ) and will thus go on. As it won’t reduce costs to quit this blog, this will continue, too.

However, the doubling of the hosting costs did bring to the forefront of my conscience one thing. How serious am I at all this? One good thing about money is that it is a great motivator. One bad thing about money is that it is a great motivator. Money is the motivator for too many things.

So as the old saying goes, “It is time to fish or cut bait.” If we are to pay the hosting fees now as well as the domain name fees later before they expire, I have to make this worthwhile. I have to use this more to justify the costs. I know I have said countless times before (mostly on Sober Catholic) about “blogging more often,” but that was a battle between myself and an inner demon, discipline. And in those battles the consequences were mostly interior ravages and self-esteem issues. But now an element from the Real World has entered the fray. Money.

I will also explore ways to “monetize” this thing. And with that goes more blogging on it as monetization efforts are pointless unless there’s activity to draw people.

The turning point. Or crossroads. Continuing to plug away.

(Donations accepted, please see the PayPal link up above. If you’re amongst the people who donated in June 2013 when we were last up for hosting renewal, you needn’t contribute again.)

Posted in About this Blog, Me, Writing | 3 Comments

Becoming antisocial

Time. Where does it go? Clocks tick, the days pass, and the time we have left for doing whatever we’re supposed to be doing while on Earth dwindles.

And so I’m cutting back on social media use. (Wow, that’s a hard switch from the melancholic opening…) It should have been done quite a long time ago, either excising some uses totally or being more disciplined. But, better late than never.

I’m a writer and a blogger. Not my source of income, my “day job” as it were, but what I will eventually be. (Full-time writer, living solely off writing income. Making progress, but still quite some time away…)

And social media is getting in the way. There are so many distractions….

It seems that almost every writer, published or aspiring, has a social media presence. But, some appear less than others…. Could they be… actually writing??????

I have a wife, a full-time day job, and two cats and a vegetable garden. They all require time and attention. This obviously cuts into time spent writing. So… something has to go.

I know! Social networking!!!! (Well, not all of it…)

There are writing Groups on Facebook, on LinkedIn and on Google+. Not to mention old-school discussion forums going back to the 1990s. Lots of writers writing on them. When do they actually write write, (as opposed to social write?) Maybe they’re full-timer writers, and posting away on Facebook or a forum is just their equivalent of yakking it up with colleagues during break times and lunch at a day job? Maybe they’re aspiring writers getting help, advice, commiseration or just trying to “feel like a writer” by hanging out with others.

But it ocurred to me that no real writer writing is actually getting done (well, in my house.) Some, but not enough. I mean, progress is being made on a novel, but more serious application of planning and research and such has to be made to the draft. You know, writing.

So I’ve begun limiting my time on the social nets. Google+ has largely disappeared from my social habits. Once in a great while I visit it, but mostly for a blog page I maintain, or some Communities. But even that is getting rarer. Google+ was nice, but I always felt like I had to be “cool” or “really intelligent” when on there as Plussers typically dismiss Facebook as riff-raff. Which is silly, but people tend to find a need to justify actions (i.e. not liking one thing or preferring it to something else. If your FB Timeline is full of garbage and riff-raff, that’s your fault.) And even Facebook for me has dropped off, I actually go days without using it. LinkedIn? Hah! Maybe once a week. I do make a daily habit of using Awestruck, a Catholic social network.

So, I have been strengthening the habit of writing. Every day. Not just often. Daily. At first it was just getting off of social networks. I survived that. Now to continue with daily progress of… writing. (This has been an issue with me for decades. And the struggles to do that appear here on this blog once in a while. Give me credit, except for when I was drinking, I never gave up…)

This is a follow up to a post on SoberCatholic.com, right here: The Sober Catholic Trudge Report Will No Longer Be out.

This post (“Becoming Antisocial”) has been planned for a while, but as it happens an impromptu visit to my Twitter account made me discover that I was irritating someone. Anyway, Twitter is another social network I’ve largely ignored. But I’ve been doing that for years. Why would a writer use Twitter? One hundred and forty characters? Seriously? How can a writer limit themselves to that??????

Posted in Me, Social networking, Writing | Comments Off on Becoming antisocial

New ‘puter?

GACK! Just bought a new computer. I haven’t purchased a new one in nine years. I have three computers, two Macs and a Lenovo PC. The iMac (the desktop Mac) came home with me from the Syracuse Apple Store nine years ago yesterday. The other two, a black Macbook and a Lenovo netbook had been given to me as gifts (used, but nonetheless valuable and greatly appreciated) by good friends who had the notion that since I’m a writer and blogger, I should have a laptop.

The iMac has seen better days. The CPU and optical drive fans have been running hard, and from what online support I have found, this indicates it can use an interior cleaning. Dust and things can find their way in the over nine years.

The BlackBook no longer has a battery. Apple doesn’t make a battery for it anymore, and buying one is expensive, at least for a machine seven years of age.

The Lenovo netbook is fine. I’m using it now to write this, but at 1GB of RAM it is incapable of doing more than one thing at a time. My intent for it is to use it exclusively for writing and blogging, as it runs LibreOffice well. But as things go, I need to look up stuff, or get caught up on Facebook or Awestruck, and so Firefox is running several tabs, and LibreOffice is open…. and then it slows to a crawl.

The Lenovo runs Linux Mint 17.2 for its OS. The computer I am considering is a Dell Inspiron 14, in the 3000 series. AND it ships with Linux Ubuntu preinstalled! I prefer Mint to Ubuntu, and so may change then when it arrives. We’ll see. (Definitely a “We’ll see,” as I have found online reviews indicating it might be hard to install a different Linux distro other than the Dell-specialized one.)

To the uninformed: Linux (be it Ubuntu or Mint, and there are scores of other versions, too) is an alternative computer operating system. Not Microsoft Windows, and not Apple Mac OS X, it is a free and open source OS. “Free” as in “no cost,” but also as in “liberty” and “freedom.” Unlike the other two OS’s mentioned, you own the OS totally, can do whatever you wish with it, such as install it on any computer capable of running it, give it away to friends, whatever. No proprietary restrictions like Microsoft and Apple imposes. The “open source” means that the source code (the underlying code) can be viewable by anyone who wishes to look at it and they can also change it to suit their needs. This capability is useless to probably 99.9% of computer owners, but it is important from a philosophical or ideological viewpoint, as well as the usual technical ones.

Ubuntu is the most widely used version of Linux, Mint is also very popular and as I said, my preference for now. Fedora is another version with a good following. (One terminology lesson: the preferred term for “version” in referring to a brand of Linux is “distro,” short for “distribution.”)

My philosophical and ideological reasons for preferring Linux to Windows or OS X differ a little from the typical. Most Linux users prefer it from the freedom standpoint, as well as a dedication to open source software. There is a definite commitment amongst the Linux community to these ideals; and while I share them, (I like the idea that I can own the OS, as well as knowing that open source provides for a great diversity in software. More on this at some other time as this post is getting long enough already!) my reasons differ.

But my peculiar reason is that owning a Linux computer and using free/open source software, is that it’s very Distributisty. What’s that? Is that like a Linux “distribution?” No, but I find the similarity amusing. “Distributism” is an economic theory derived from Papal encyclicals, and subsequently developed by English writers such as GK Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc and Fr. Vincent McNabb. I must have blogged about it before, given that there’s a “Distributism” category, but in short, it is an economic philosophy in which the ownership of the means of production are distributed as widely as possible. There is a decentralization of economic power; power isn’t concentrated in the hands of the few who primarily wish to obtain more, as is the case with capitalism as traditionally practiced; and also not socialism, for that, as traditionally practiced concentrates economic power in the hands of the State.

In both capitalism and socialism, the individual is subject to the economy. To paraphrase Jesus, “The economy was made for Man, not Man for the economy.”

Property is widely held: home ownership along with sufficient land to live on is encouraged; the means to “own” your job (traditionally either in arts and shopcrafts or farming; nowadays either similar professions or any manner of self-employment. Worker’s cooperatives are common alternatives to this.

And in my opinion, as a writer and blogger and therefore a creator of things, free/open source software, including operating systems serve a Distributist model. I own the PC and all of the software on it. No leasing, no restrictions on use that serve only the corporate interest. (I mean, seriously, why should I have to buy several copies of MS Office for each PC? If I own the thing, I should be able to install it on as many PC’s as I own! Oh, you mean I don’t actually own my copy of Office… I merely lease it…?)

I own the means of production concerning my wordsmithing. Linux; LibreOffice for writing and creating blog drafts; WordPress, the blogging platform I use; Mozilla Firefox, the web browser I connect to others with and look up stuff; and Mozilla Thunderbird for email. All are free/opensource and I own my copies of each. It’s very Distributisty.

(I’ll probably blog more on Distributism over time; to get you started, read “Rerum Novarum” by Pope Leo XIII. You can find it here: Rerum Novarum )

Posted in Distributism, Open Source, Personal | 1 Comment

Viking dream

OK, so I had this dream one night last week in which I was a person participating in something like a “Society for Creative Anachronism/Historical Medieval Battles” competition, but it was all Viking. It took me this long to post it here;a version has appeared on Facebook.

Anyway, the dream. In order to join this “Society for Creatively Anachronistic Historical Medieval Battles” you and your Viking-wannabe friends have to band together, get involved in the competition, and if your hacking and slaying, looting and pillaging were sufficiently acceptable, you were in.

And my group apparently were already members, and we had an enjoyable time in this particular event which also had wannabe Vikings competing.

One such group of hopefuls was from a western NY human services org that caters to people with developmental disabilities. I used to work at this particular agency. However, these Viking wannabes were mostly, not entirely, but mostly, women. And “women can’t be Vikings” was one of the rules of the Society for Creatively Anachronistic Historical Medieval Battles. But they comported themselves well, and by any standards, save for the rule barring women from joining, they’d be a shoo-in for membership.

So, we were like, “Who’s gonna tell ’em they can’t join?”

“You tell ’em.”

“No, you tell, ’em.”

“Uh-huh. I ain’t gonna tell ’em!”

And so it went like this for awhile.

Off to the side observing all this was a group of lesbian feminists holding broadswords. Now, THAT’S disturbing dream imagery. Anyway, they were passing judgment on us, saying that we’re Neanderthals (“Uh, no, we’re VIKINGS! Neanderthals are in another Society…”) for doing all this hacking and slaying. They went on to say that they were offended by our society’s competition and were going to have it banned.

We didn’t particularly like this, and pointed out that we members of the Society for Creatively Anachronistic Historical Medieval Battles don’t just go around hacking and slaying, looting and pillaging.

“Oh?” asked the lesbian feminists, hands on the broadswords leaning up against their hips. “And just what else do you do?”

“We’re environmentalists!”

“What?” They were incredulous.

“Sure! While we’re out there in the forest, hacking and slaying, looting and pillaging, we’re not just keeping track of blood-volume spilled and a body count. We’re observing tree growth, animal migratory behavior and deer herd numbers!”

They still seemed incredulous, but didn’t respond.

Two of our members quietly discussed the situation and were heard saying, “We can solve this right away at once; we can tell the human services people that we need ‘further evidence of their prowess’ and so they’ll have to take on the lesbian broadsworders. We won’t tell the lesbians anything, they’ll have no choice but to defend themselves. They look pretty handy with those broadswords…”

“That’s what freaks me out,” interrupted the other.

“…and the other people should be able to take out most of them, while losing many of their own. Afterwards, the surviving lesbians will just go their own way, leaving us alone, and whoever’s left from human services will probably change their minds about joining!”

“Brilliant!”

And with that, the dream ended as I tend to naturally awaken daily at 6AM, plus or minus a few minutes.

Now bear in mind that this was a dream and not indicative of my personal opinions of human service organizations, lesbian feminists, Vikings and anyone who enjoys a good broadsword, blood and guts. I am NOT RESPONSIBLE for anything my subconscious dredges up.

It was an odd dream. I’ll try to post odd ones now and then, they’re at least entertaining. I think I was reasonably accurate in relating this one, Lord only knows what didn’t survive the awakening.

There really is a “Society for Creative Anachronism;” they usually dress up as medieval knights and such and go jousting, or something. There is also an “Historical Medival Battles” organization. From what I can tell from Facebook and You Tube it is a sporting competition where guys dress up as medieval knights, enter a ring like is used in boxing or mixed-martial arts, and beat the living heck out of each other with swords. They do wear lot of padding. It is very popular in Europe, especially so in Russia and Eastern Europe.

The SCA allows women members, the HMB probably has a women’s combat division, for all I know. There is no such organization that combines the two names, and banning women is sexist, anyway. I’m not even going to explore why that attitude showed up in my dream.

Posted in Me, Personal | Comments Off on Viking dream

random garden updates

I had promised garden updates off and on through the year. Here’s one. No photographs as it doesn’t look that interesting. If I find my camera tomorrow that may change.

The hoogle is not going to be happening this year. I had fallen somewhat behind in early June when I was hit by bronchitis, knocking me out of commission for two weeks. I went to work, but didn’t do anything outside. As a result, the hoogle sticks are buried in tall grass. I may still complete the building, and do planting of shallow-rooted crops if I feel like it; otherwise “wait till next year.”

The bronchitis also delayed the regular vegetable garden; to the point where I had to bring in someone to rototill it as the weeds had reclaimed it. On June 20th I limed the garden and the only reason I bring up this dull detail is to copy/paste a Facebook post that was inspired. OK, maybe not “inspired” but I thought it pretty dang funny:

“Spread lime around the veggie garden this evening, preparatory to planting on Monday. We don’t have a fertilizer spreader, so I just dumped the stuff in a little garden cart, dragged the cart to the plot and applied it. So, basically, what I did was…

“I put de lime in de garden cart den I spread it all around…
I put de lime in de garden cart den I spread it all around…
wa-hoooooo… wa-hooooooo..

I put de lime in de garden cart den I spread it all around…
I put de lime in de garden cart den I spread it all around…
wa-hoooooo… wa-hooooooo..”

Lime in the coconut

The plants were put in on Monday. Twenty-four tomato plants (12 ‘Better Boy,’ 8 ‘Celebrity,’ and 4 ‘Early Girl), four acorn squash and four cantaloupes. On Wednesday evening/Thursday morning a deer jumped the chicken-wire fence around it and ate 6 tomato plants and 2 or 3 acorn squashes. So Thursday my wife had the idea of using last year’s garden fence (cheap netting for vines as I couldn’t afford better stuff; worked all right last year nonetheless) as an additional barrier. So with that in mind, that fence was place maybe 4 feet farther out from the chicken wire fence. Deer have little to no depth perception and won’t jump over if they can’t figure out the distance.

It’s working so far. Now to replace the plants so savagely killed…

Posted in Gardening | 1 Comment