• Halloween and Web Ghosts

    I feel haunted by bots and idiots who lure me back here with their incessant postings of spam comments on posts that have not been “active” in about 173 years. I just don’t get the mindset of those who think “it’s the way to go” when it comes to developing business, visibility, or whatever it is they want to “develop.”

    Red LeafWho knows, maybe all they want to do is plant a virus on my computer.

    Anyway, now and then I choose to respond to the stream of notifications that I have “new comments” to moderate, and then I decide I’ll hang about for a few minutes to see what this new platform is about.

    Here’s a small “secret:” I really don’t like WordPress.

    I know all “serious” are all about the marvels of WordPress and its assortment of themes and what-have-you… but even though I have had blogs on this platform for almost a decade, I find this THE hardest and THE least intuitive and user-friendly.

    Where’s my WYSIWIG? How the HELL can you have an anno 2013 application without at at least an option for a WYSIWIG editor? And why the ferk isn’t this thing widget-driven, in the first place? And why the ferk can’t I just drag and drop an image into this text? How do I get the text to wrap… it’s not HTML, and I don’t have access to the CSS. Use inline CSS commands? REALLY bad form…

  • So… yeah…

    So, theoretically this is now a new platform for Xanga, and all my stuff has made it “over here.” All ten years’ worth of posts.

    Except (if I understand all this correctly) this is now “a WordPress site named Xanga.” Which seems really weird, as I already have a couple of WordPress blogs.

    I am not even sure if we are going to “subscribe” here, and whether it is going to cost money. There are so many free blogging platforms on the WWW that it would seem a little odd to have to pay for one. But we paid to have “premium” over at the “old” place, so I guess that’s OK, on some level. I just wonder how many are actually going to come onboard with that.

    I suppose it makes sense to pay for the service if you’re “invested” in a huge body of work. And you have links all over creation, and those links still “work” now, even though we’re on a new venue.

    Well. Not sure if this “new beginning” is going to inspire me to start blogging here, again. I sort of gave up on having a “general” blog, in favor of pursuing a number of “niche” blogs.

  • Onwards… Through the Fog?

    So evidently it appears that the Xanga community… and people in general… actually “put their money where their mouths are” in a substantial enough fashion that Xanga– as a blogging platform– will not go away, after all. There was actually a progress announcement posted today, suggesting that things are “happening.”

    I’m not sure what I think about being “just another WordPress blog,” if that’s what going to happen. I know everybody and their dog (at least those who pretend to be “serious” about having an online presence) is all about WordPress being the only “real” way to blog. Personally? I always found WordPress to be like trying to learn a foreign language… with a different alphabet, even. It’s great and amazing if you’re willing to give up months and years to learn everything about the amazing intricacies of how to customize WordPress Themes… if you just want to “throw up some words” and have it look nice… your options are rather limited.
    Oh well… we’ll see what happens. 
  • So, I guess that’s about it…

    Well, it seems pretty much like this is the end of the road… I’ve snagged nine years’ worth of archives (well, only the first six really amount to anything) and I guess that in less than a month there will most likely be no Xanga, anymore.

    Unless, of course, they raise the money they are needing, to keep the site going at a new venue. Here, if you haven’t already, go have a look: Relaunch Xanga at New Location
    As “they” say, the only constant in life is change. 
    I still keep blogs, but not the same way I used to. The days of random musings and general kvetching are long gone, for me– replaced by specialty niche blogs related to various business ventures, along with more structured articles. 
    I’m still “around” if you want to connect or keep up. Your best bet is to find me on Facebook where I am already connected to quite a few Oldxangans. Or you can follow my shenanigans on twitter
    It has been fun. Don’t be a stranger!
  • This and that, and so on, and so forth

    Wow. Years. It has actually been years since I last posted here.

    Blogs are a funny thing– they evolve over time. Or, at least, our blogging habits evolve… in my case, keeping a “general” blog (this one) gave way to having “niche” blogs. Maybe that’s just a reflection of general trends on the web, with web site. You really can’t expect anyone to be interested in something like a web site “about music” anymore. You have to specialize. You have to specialize… a lot. Music? Nah. A niche blog on how Bob Marley braided his nose hair? Now we’re talking…

    It’s also how you get “readers,” rather than “followers” for your work, as a writer.

    As a sort of update, I’m more into writing “articles” these days, than keeping up with blogs. I do still have my “HSP Notes” blog, and it’s one of my ongoing ventures that won’t be going away, anytime soon. 

    Other than that, I write for OM Times Magazine on a regular basis. That’s another “ongoing” project.

    Most of my other writing is about Highly Sensitive People. Mostly, I write stuff like this: “The Highly Sensitive Person or HSP: What Exactly IS That?” If you’re an HSP, you should probably read it. You might learn something new… even if you’re not an HSP, you still might learn something.

    Sarah and I still live in Port Townsend. We like it here… and we’ll probably stay here till… well, till they have to carry us out in a pine box. 
  • End of an Era

    A couple of days ago, my 92-year old stepdad died. He and my mother got together after my parents divorced (when I was about ten), and he was her companion until her death in 2009. He was never quite himself, after she passed.

    When I look at relationships, I’m sometimes not quite sure how they “work.” Whereas I have a reasonably good sense of what my stepdad saw in my mom, I was never quite sure what she saw in him. Much of their relationship seemed to exist against a backdrop my of mother’s litany of complaints about all the things that were “wrong” with him, and that he “didn’t do.” And yet, there they were… together for 37 years, all in all.

    I am not sure what it’s about, but sometimes when people die I end up feeling guilty that I am not “feeling more.” I’ve been offered up a smorgasbord of psychobabble as to why this is… from accusations of being “a cold bastard” to assertions that I “don’t experience grieving in the moment.” As I sit here, I don’t feel much sadness… just a sense of quietude, a peaceful gratitude that he has passed from this world he never really seemed to like very much.

    There is no doubt in my mind that my stepdad was “a good man.” He stood by his word, and he stood by (and in his own way, adored) my mother… even though her flights of fancy drove him nuts. During his moments of frustration, I could almost hear Rex Harrison singing “Why can’t a woman… be more like a man,” inside his head.

    On the whole, I don’t think he liked people very much… and many of his and my mom’s “battles” were (in some fashion) related to their polar opposite differences, when it came to the importance of people and socializing. My mother– the social butterfly– would clash with this isolationist hermit curmudgeon over issues as small as “going out to eat dinner.” Money was also a regular bone of contention between them… mostly surrounding the issue of his unwillingness to spend anything on a better quality of life in latter years… he could afford it, but chose to “do without” almost everything.

    With his passing, I no longer have any relatives “of my parents’ age.”

    And as I take these moments to ponder his life I’m considering what the significant lifelessons and takeaways might be, here. The one that most readily comes to mind is that you can completely be a “good and honorable” person without in any way being personable or likable. Some people may have really good hearts, but lack the temperament, interest, desire or even social skills to develop an outer expression of what’s inside them… this is a reminder that merits some long hard consideration, in my own life. Thankfully, I have inherited elements of my mother’s personality… and even though I always find being social to be “hard work” I do get out there and engage; and like my stepdad, I am married to a very social and outgoing person.

    Well… I’m not really sure where I was going with this; just wanted to “mark a spot,” I suppose.

  • Cleaning my Desk so I can get my Stuff Done

    I don’t remember the comedian’s name, but he did a piece on the tendency we have to “clean our desk” before we can get ourselves motivated to get any of our stuff done. Somehow (for example) the simple task of paying bills becomes an all-but-impossible nightmare if our desk is cluttered. I know this to be a fundamental truth of my own life… so I consider myself busted.

    What made me contemplate this “illness” (in between slurps of coffee) is that I’ve been feeling the urge to start writing again. But… of course… I can’t just sit down and resume where I left off, several years ago.

    No, no, no, no, no, no, noh…

    First, there is a taking of “inventory” and planning.

    Maybe it’s the side effect of being a pathological planner and control freak. And– perhaps– a side effect of living for too many years with people who insisted we can “get organized later,” typically with the result that things did get done right away, but then the “retroactive planning” would take forty times longer than a little foresight.

    So… I’m “tidying my desk” because I hate wasting time, later…

    Of course, this can become something more than “organization.” For some people, “getting ready to do” is actually a serious dysfunction that keeps them from ever getting around to DOING the things they really want to do.. because something else always needs to be taken care of first. It’s all about finding balance.

    So next time you find yourself “getting ready” to do something… or resume something you used to do… ask yourself if your “planning” is necessary, or actually an avoidance technique that’s keeping you trapped eternally in a “pre-doing” holding pattern.

  • So anyway…

    Strange how life unfolds.

    Strange how, as I look at these pages, it seems that I have come back here about once a year… to write a few words.

    Is the idea of blogging still alive? I wonder, sometimes. These days we have CrackFaceBook, Twitter and a million other venues that allow people to connect on the wings of ever shorter bits of information.

    I don’t write so much, anymore.

    Strange, that. As a kid, I had a feeling I’d grow up to “write stories.” I wanted to… At the time, I wasn’t really sure what motivated me to write– 40+ years later, I understand that I had a purpose, a very specific purpose. A goal, if you will.

    What happens after you’ve climbed Everest? What happens after the marathon is over? What happens after the party ends and everyone has gone home?

    As one of my Teachers once pointed out, when you close a door behind you, it also means that you have stepped into a new room.

    I’ve opened a door and gone through. There is a new room. I wonder what’s inside it….


  • Scattered Updates, with a Forecast of More of the Same

    I don’t write here much, anymore.

    Strike that… I stop by, once in a great while, to remind myself that I still have this site. I believe I have actually said this a number of times already… so it’s a bit redundant, and there’s an echo in here.

    Just like I don’t write long and involved emails to people anymore, like I used to– if that includes YOU, I’m sorry. I don’t have the bandwidth or the energy…. it doesn’t mean I don’t like you, it means I don’t have the bandwidth or the energy.

    It’s nothing personal (the lacking blog, or the lacking emails)– I have to make a living, and it’s a recession, and since nobody has stepped up and offered to sponsor my life, I have to do so, myself. Plus, there have been– and are– other important things that use(d) my time.

    Once upon a time, I thought nothing of writing a general blog rant a day, posting on a dozen message boards and sending several long emails. I spent hours, every day, on this. Now? When I am writing long emails, they are mostly reserved for Sarah (in case this is news to you and the little picture at top left didn’t clue you in, she and I have been A Couple In Love for a while… well, forever, really… but that’s a very long story… suffice it to say that Love is a beautiful thing… that expression on our faces? That’s called JOY… she’s “All That” and more to me, and the cool thing is that she digs me, too… The end… and to those of you who kinda figured this out YEARS ago, congratulations… ), or it takes place in one of the venues, below.

    [Ponders, for a moment...]

    There’s a very, very long story that goes with this blog and its reason for being, in the first place, but I really don’t have the time to tell it, right now. “Buy the book,” when it comes out.

    My “Thought du Jour” is that “general” blogs where we rant and rave and just generally empty our brains through tapping away at a keyboard… well, they serve their purpose, when that’s what we need for them to do because we’re in a particular place, in our lives.

    Most blogs, these days, are specialized. They are about spirituality, collecting wooden horses, politics in Lithuania or making jams and jellies… less about vomiting up personal trials and tribulations for public Internet consumption. Don’t get me wrong, I said this kind of format has its place… I’m just not in that place, anymore, see?

    My point being that I am still blogging and writing out there– just not in a “general” format.

    I don’t have much time for words, these days. Most of the words I share in publick are dedicated to my HSP Notes (HSP = Highly Sensitive Person, for the uninitiated) blog, which you can find here:

    HSP Notes Blog

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been writing it a good bit longer than I’ve been writing here. It’s worth a read, especially if you happen to be an HSP. Or so people tell me.

    Other than that, I’m not really very involved in the HSP community, anymore. Again, I don’t have the time, or the bandwidth. My contributions were always a labor of love… and these days I only labor for compensation, and my Love belongs to someone. Someday, I may return to a more active role.

    Well. Wait. I do write over here:

    Tribe Magazine for HSPs

    Again, worth checking out. If you’re an HSP, go there and subscribe!

    If you really want to know on which side I part my nostril hair in the morning, you can look me up on crackbook…. ummm… that is, facebook. If you send me a friend request, please let me know that you’re from “over here” or I may just ignore you. Again, nothing personal.

    Sometimes I write at Trujournal on matters more spiritual and relating to personal contemplation. Carrie-Anne, Scott and Steven have created a beautiful community, which also includes the Token Rock web site. Seriously, consider joining. You’ll have to create an account to find me (or other friends– several oldxangans are there), anyway.

    And since you’re from here, I’d invite you to join Sarah’s “Your Soul’s Plan” interactive journaling group, too. Again, you’ll have to create an account, before that link does anything.

    So… what do I DO, these days?

    Well, generally, I have created a life in which my “living” comes from “playing with my hobbies,” that is, writing, collecting stamps and beach combing.

    And yes, that IS “possible,” thanks to eBay and other internet venues. It’s not about “thinking outside the box.” Or in it, for that matter. It’s about throwing away the box, and creating a new “language” to define the meaning of living, working, happiness and Love.

    My mom died, early this fall. She was 87, and during the past 12-18 month suffered declining health and loss of cognitive functions to advanced dementia. This has been another reason why I’ve not been around, very much. As her only living relative, it largely fell to me to manage her care and well-being, from 8000 miles away. Needless to say, not such an easy task… especially the bit involving getting her moved into an assisted living facility. These days, I spend my energies trying to console my 91-year old stepdad, who still lives in their apartment… again, from 8000 miles away.

    So why am I here, today? For some reason, I decided to step back and have a “housecleaning day,” to clean up and update various bits and pieces of my life. Because sometimes… that’s just the easiest way to get the news “out there.”

  • The Economy… stupid…

    I suppose one would have to be living under a rock to be unaware that “something” is going on with the global economy. There’s endless hand wringing and scores of talking heads who offer “opinions” about what “ails” us all. Generally, I stay away from these discussions… for any number of reasons, including the large one that I tend to offer opinions (that later turn out unnervingly prophetic) nobody wants to hear. A sort of “Emperor’s New Clothes” thing.

    Don’t get me wrong, it sucks to see the value of your 401-K be cut in half in a matter of months. And it sucks to have your house foreclosed on. And it sucks to be laid off from your job.

    The talking heads spew words of “wisdom,” 99% of which revolves around the issue of “how we get our economy back to robust growth.” Normally, I’d leave this particular flaming turd alone, but I was listening to a group of so-called “experts” on CNBC, going on about how me MUST get the economy back to solid growth, and we definitely don’t want to “become like Europe.”

    It reminded me of some… wow… 25 years ago, where I found myself arguing with one of my college marketing professors over the long-term viability of the US economy. The “argument” consisted of me saying that the US “growth paradigm economic model” would eventually have to collapse because it was based too much on “selling air.” The opposing side’s “case” consisted of him calling me ignorant.

    It’s 25 years later, and I’m listening to CNBC’s Larry Kudlow talk about the importance of returning to growth, and I’m reminded of this 25-year old conversation. And I just want to SHAKE these people and ask them how the frak they think we got into this mess, in the first place. The very thing you’re proposing as a “cure” is what caused the mess in the first place.

    Think about what “growth” means, and carry it out to its logical conclusion. Not what it will look like in 2013, or 20 years from now… but what will it look like, 200 years from now? Prosperity? I don’t think so. Think about it. If you “have to” make 5% more salary next year, that also has to “come from somewhere.” That “somewhere” is the production of goods and services. But in order for the company that employs you to increase your salary by 5%, they also have to make and sell an incremental number of goods and services to afford that 5% increase… say, 5% more goods and services. But actually… that’s not enough. Because the company needs to expand it’s capacity by 5%, and for that purpose it has INVESTORS, also known as shareholders, or it goes to the BANK and borrows money… because, God forbid we should only expand when we have the actual cash it costs to do so. The investors expect to make more money on their investment every year (growth of stock price) or they will invest elsewhere. So the company not only has to pay YOU more, it also has to make sure the stock price keeps going up, to give the investors an increased value of their investment… and how does it DO that? Well, profits have to increase.

    We don’t much think about the “effect” of this, on a year to year basis. Perhaps not even on a decade-to-decade basis. But when we start counting in centuries, something dramatic happens. Guess what? The metaphorical “you” of 2008, who lives in a house and drives a car… by 2208 will need to own FIVE cars (just for you, the ONE peson) in order to support the growth-based economic system you subscribe to. You also have to own 200 pairs of sneakers, and eat nine meals a day. Because “everything” has to grow at some prescribed percentage a year.

    The word “Ponzi Scheme” has been in the news, recently. It’s an old term I know well, from my days long gone of writing about network marketing. The notion of “economic growth”– at its core– is really little more than a Ponzi Scheme. At some point it runs out of gas, because the need for “real” goods is finite, and the system starts to become increasingly dependent on “selling air.” What is “air?” Well, I’m not talking about the stuff we breathe, I’m talking about “artificial” value that doesn’t actually exist. Most recently, we’ve seen it in the real estate market. But it’s elsewhere, too. I can guarantee you that your Air Jordans do not cost anywhere near $120 to make… even after several people get a “fair profit.” You’re getting a pair of sneakers… AND a large bag of AIR.

    Yeah, yeah, I know… but if you can’t play with yourself, who CAN you play with?

    Not so long ago, I was looking at property… new construction… just for shits and grins, and I made a rough assessment of the cost of the land, plus the cost of the building materials, plus the cost of labor, plus the cost of a fair profit to the builder/contractor… and then compared it to the actual sales price. The former came to about $110/square foot. And yet… the houses in this development were being offered for $270/square foot, on average… the difference simply being “air,” or more aptly, what an irrationally exuberant market was able to bear. However, that $160/square foot difference had no basis in anything real or concrete… as a great many homeowners and mortgage lenders are now discovering, in unison.

    I look at all this, and it strikes me that very little of it is about “housing,” or “mortgages,” or “the economy.” It’s about our essential values being out of kilter. I realize this is the “land of opportunity,” but our perception of what “success” means, and what we “need” to be successful… is broken. And that’s why we’re now in this jam.

    40 pairs of designer shoes. 5000-square foot houses. $80,000 cars. Rolex watches. What exactly do you HAVE, of you have those? And why, when you do have those, the compulsion to up the shoe collection to 50 pairs, and “move up” to a 6000-square foot house? Why do people who start a company, and get to make a million dollars a year feel “driven” to get the company to where it makes two, five, ten million a year? Where is the “need” for that?

    Conversely, why are we so afraid of living lives in which we are “gainfully employed” in a manner where we make a living– we have a place to live, food, heat, and so forth. Why always bigger, bigger, bigger, more, more, more? I don’t get it.

    Back when I was a teenager, I lived in an area of very very wealthy retired people. I used to play golf, on occasion, with an elderly Englishman named Geoffrey. Geoffrey said to me, one day… in the course of “giving advice” to a young fledgling:

    “Shrouds have no pockets.”

    I sincerely doubt that “fixing the economy” is going to be the answer to anything. We have to fix ourselves, first. We have to fix, within ourselves, whatever that empty space is that we’ve somehow become convinced we can “fill” by shoving stuff into it. We’ve grown obsessed with life-style, but seem to have forgotten life, itself.

    I know there are people who’ll be offended by this, for any number of reasons. Could be you’re living in poverty and wish you just had a little more. Could be you’re living well, and think it’s “un-American” of me to suggest you might be happy with less. I’ve just been noticing, of late, how far too much of life focuses around money… have it, don’t have it, want it, need it… all is about money. Maybe it’s just the Holidaze, getting to me… this time of the year when so many start to “measure” their sense of self in terms of “what” and “how much” they have been given.