Thursday, December 27, 2012

I'm a news kind of guy.  During my early post-college years, I had subscriptions to Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report, and Discover magazine.  As the internet destroys such things, my collection keeps dwindling.  I just cancelled my Newsweek subscription today.

Funny thing, they seemed to have anticipated this when they announced the switch to digital.  Their phone lines were swamped, their email addresses were closed, and their website changed so that you couldn't cancel online.  Convenient, huh?

Well, hopefully I thwarted them.  It may only have been a few dollars at this point in my subscription, but at least they're not getting them.

Now I just have to finish reading the ones sitting around here.

- Jim

Monday, December 24, 2012

First of all, Merry Christmas Eve!  I don't know if I'll be able to post again before then, so just in case I miss it, Merry Christmas as well. 

Way back... several months ago, I decided I was too far behind to get everything done by the time I wanted it.  That's not really all that surprising.  I don't schedule for patience, and as I've said many times before, I'm interested in everything.  On my work table sits a pile of index cards with sixty or so books I want to check out of the library.  I have twenty or so books sitting around my desk that I want to read.  Then there's the book list I have online of those I want to buy.  Add in the books I've collected and downloaded in digital form and I could stay busy even if I lived for a thousand years.  Well, maybe not.  It might only be like six hundred. 

Well, I've done what I could with the annoying distractions I suffer.  I'm also working harder than ever during the last days of the year.  It's always been like that.  Nothing new there.  I bite off more than I can chew, and then I spend the rest of time in a futile rush to catch up.

That being said, it's time to start working on the Master Yearly To-Do List, formerly known as my New Year's Resolutions.  I've got a preliminary rough draft and am working on adding things to it. It'll look familiar; there's a lot of stuff from last year.  And the year before.  And the year before.  And so on. 

A couple things I want to mention though.  Unlike previous years where the beginning is meant to catch up on all the stuff I didn't do last year, I'm going to work on new stuff.  Well, it's not new.  I've always meant to write, but that task will no longer be subordinate to anything else.  If it's on the list and it's not writing, then it's secondary, meant to either fill the cracks when I can't write or meant to be after I finish writing.  I will send a book to a publisher this year.  I'm close enough, I think, to make that promise.

There will actually be a couple days when I won't write, in the beginning of the year.  I'm going to wait until my Sister's kids all go back to school after their Christmas break.  I'm motivated, but I'm not crazy.   It's hard enough to just read or watch movies with them around.  As a side note, if I ever win the lottery or come into insane amounts of money, the first think I'm going to do is build a cork study. 

- Jim

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lots has happened, though little in the way of blog-material.  My Sister and her family moved back in with us after having money problems.  It makes finding time to work more challenging, but it's nice to have the kids around during the Christmas season.

I'm finishing up what I can for the end of the year and continuing to work on other things.  I've found new reason to write and new motivation to finish.  I'd like to believe that's enough, but I'll be honest in admitting that I'm mostly talk in this regard.

In any case, I'm still alive, still mostly... more or less, away from the internet.

- Jim

Sunday, December 09, 2012

It's been nearly a week since I wrote last.  Nothing major has happened really.  My computer chair finally died.  Not too surprising, since I spend so much time in it while I'm doing the things I do that I try to call "work" with a straight face.  It'll be a week before the new one gets here.  In the meantime, I have a chair that is hard on my knee, which is why I don't otherwise use it. 

That's not too bad though.  As I mentioned in my last post, this is the time of year I rush to finish all the stuff I can.  Well, this year I'm rushing to try and finish stuff that has been lingering on various to-do lists for multiple years.  Mostly reading and DVDs really.  There's no way to finish everything I'd like to finish, but I'm trying. 

Anyway, it's still going and it's going pretty steadily overall. 

- Jim

Monday, December 03, 2012

I'm sure no one was losing sleep over this, but I figured I'd let people know.  If you've been keeping track at all of the Seti@home numbers on the right of this blog, you'd have seen that my progress has essentially stopped and my recent credit has plummeted.  Being off the internet will do that.  I'm sorta on the internet now, in a very limited way, so the numbers should improve eventually.  Unfortunately, there was some kind of technical glitch at the Seti@home headquarters, and they've temporarily shut down. 

Yeah, even I wasn't real worried about it, but I haven't posted in a few days and I figured I needed more posts that weren't simply saying that I was still alive.

Just for the record, I am.  Still alive, I mean.

Anyway, I've been keeping busy.  The end of the year usually means me pulling out my New Year's Resolution List/To-Do List and trying desperately to catch up and finish anything and everything I can.  And so I have.  In that way, the internet thing has been a bit of a boon.

Anyway, hope to have better news soon.

 - Jim

Friday, November 30, 2012

Just a short note, I'm not dead.  I'm mostly offline for the immediate forseeable future.  That may change eventually, but probably not for a while.  In the meantime, I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving and I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, regardless of whether I'm online to wish it again.

Take care,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

At the risk of sounding bitter, it's not like I don't try.  I'm not all that far away from making things right, but there you go.  Five hundred dollars would fix the immediate.  So close, yet so not close.

Ah well.  Nothing I can do about it now.

- Jim

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

So, I was walking in to the use the computer and I hit my toe on a large plastic file box.  I have 10 toes, and the only one I seem to hit is the injured one.  Well, it's damaged again, though not as badly as it originally was, I think.  Anyway, it's been twenty-two hours or something, so it is a real injury though.  Dammit.

Circumstances have become more imminent, so I will be taking a break from the internet for a while.  No worries, unless you read my name in the paper, I suppose.  I imagine I'll kill myself eventually, even if I do it one toe injury at a time.  But really, I don't feel any signs of approaching mortality, so I think I'm good.

Take care,

- Jim

Saturday, November 03, 2012

I had a headache yesterday and while I wanted to let people know what was going on, I wonder if I did it right.  Rereading my last post, it seems to be suggesting something I didn't mean to suggest.

My Aunt is doing better.  She's not 100% yet.  At her age, recovery will take a while.  Still, she will recover.  It's just a process that needs to take place. 

As far as me leaving the internet, well, it's not a decision I've made, but rather circumstances beyond my control.  That's not entirely accurate, but it's accurate enough.  Consequences of a choice I made really.  To be honest, it wasn't much of a choice, but there's a price to be paid nonetheless. 

Now that I've had time to think about it, I probably won't ever abandon this blog.  Well, not completely anyway.  I've limited its goals and restrained its growth, but it still does serve a purpose.  It'll be around as long as Google allows blogs I guess.  I don't imagine I'll ever spend the time to move it though.  So, don't worry.  It's not anything dramatic like that.

Anyway, until next time,

- Jim

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Not much has been happening in my life.  Working on stuff when I can and that's about it.  I didn't want anyone to think I died or anything.  Oh, the enforced absence from the internet is still imminent, but I have no ideas about when or how long.  It will be what it will be, I guess.

My Aunt is doing better though.  The road to recovery is still a process, but it seems this race is pretty much run.

- Jim      

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Nothing major, but I finished the Harry Potter series.  I've given the last book away to my Sister's family.  Technically, I own the fifth one still, because I owned two copies of that book.

As I said, it was nothing major.  I'm still working on what I called the "Phase IV" goals that will finish up the year.  Basically, I picked a handful of stuff from the other goal lists and combined them with catch-up stuff.  It's slower going than I thought, but as always I hope I'll be able to improve my pace.

- Jim

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The last I heard, they were releasing my Aunt from the hospital.  I don't know any more details than that really.  She'll be tired though and she's got people looking in on her, so not hearing anything is probably good news.

- Jim

Friday, October 26, 2012

The family dog, Ruby passed away this morning.  Dying is often a horrible process and I'm not going to describe it here, but her passing was easier than it could have been but harder than we wished it to be.  That is partially my fault.  I convinced them not to put her to sleep nearly a month ago.

As may be expected, the family is pretty sad.  This dog, along with another who had passed away a couple years ago, got my Sister through some tough times with cancer and the deaths of my Brother and my Mother.

- Jim

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Aunt went back in the hospital.  It's not that her condition is much worse, but that it's not getting any better.  As I said before, she probably shouldn't have left so soon before, but that's what she wanted.

The dog is almost certainly dying now.  The hope that existed before is fading.  Sigh.

And... I will likely be taking an enforced break from the internet shortly.  Life consequences and all that. 

- Jim
The family dog may be on her way out.  She hasn't eaten in several days and has been very sick.  There is always hope though.  Anyway, it's an emotional time for the family.

- Jim

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

There's really nothing new to add.  Aunt is still home, but still recovering.  That process will take a while, I'm afraid.  Still, it's better than the alternative.

As for me, I'm nearly done with the Harry Potter series.  I suppose I could have finished it sooner, but I had other smaller chores that needed my attention as well and I did my best not to neglect them.  My toe is still messed up.  You know how that goes.  Hindsight again, but I should have gone to get it checked out before.  I don't think it's any more injured than it was before - it's not like it's green or falling off or anything, it's just not healing straight.  I'm doing my best to stay off it, but I don't think I'm doing enough. 

Oh yeah, the writing is continuing.  I'm not spending all day every day on it, but it's coming along slowly.  I don't figure I'll be able to devote my full time to it until after the end of the year.  Still, that might be for the best.  These smaller sessions allow me to fill gaps and holes, to work on background stuff, and flesh out ideas.  The world of the book will never, ever be complete, but as it can be the framework for something bigger than just a single book, I want to make sure that framework is complete at least.

Things are finally coming together there, I think. 

- Jim

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Aunt is home, though weak and tired.  It's probably the right call, but I wonder if they rushed it.  In any case, she's mostly resting, or should be.  She is hopefully resting.

So far, so good.

- Jim

Friday, October 19, 2012

If all goes well, my Aunt should be leaving the hospital shortly.  If all goes well, she'll recover quickly once she's at home. 

Because most of the increase of my social activities were because of this incident/crisis, I'll be decreasing my activities back to where they were before.  I don't mind being available to help when things like this happen, but I need to get back to work.

Good luck, I continue to post when I can,

- Jim
The good news is that the cause of the problems for my Aunt is relatively easy to fix.  The bad news is that it caused such extreme consequences.  She's doing better, but still not out of the hospital.  She hopes to get out very soon, and I understand the sentiment.  I'm not sure what to expect in that regard. 

Again, high hopes,

- Jim

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Alas, I spoke too soon.  My Aunt has had a bit of a setback.  It's not as bad as it could be, but it's certainly not good, especially at her age.  They're working on the problem now, but it will take time to determine the results.

High hopes,

- Jim
I am within just a few pages of finishing the sixth Harry Potter book.  I'm still working on the whole backlog thing, but it's going.  I had to slow down for a few days when my Aunt went in the hospital.  Admittedly, I didn't do anything more than change my sleep schedule, but it allows me to sit by the phone and ease the worries of others.

Yeah, it's kinda pathetic, if you think about it.  Still, it's the least I could do.

Anyway, my Aunt is doing better, though she's still there.  They're running tests and will decide how they want to proceed in a few days.

- Jim

Saturday, October 13, 2012

There's not much to talk about, but I figured I'd post before anyone think I died or something.  Everything is pretty close to normal.  I'm still working on the Harry Potter books mostly, though like always I'm ever dabbling in a dozen other things as well.  I want to know everything, read everything, see everything, blah blah blah.  It keeps me busy though.  Downtime is hard for me.

I am still waffling about the toe.  On the one hand, it's a broken toe.  I can't imagine the doctors doing anything if I went to see them and medical care costs money.  On the other, it still hurts like hell.  It's been... what, a month?  More?  It seems like forever, but that might just be because it's the middle of the night and I haven't slept well.  Invariably as I climb into bed I brush my toe against something and it kills me.  It's not like I'm abusing it really, but the toe doesn't think so.

In the meantime, I'm doing some strengthening exercises, but I'm mostly on hold for anything else until the toe situation resolves itself.  Again, I don't want anyone to think I was out running marathons even before the toe thing.  I'm just trying to make it to the end of the block before the knee gives out.  Yeh, it's that bad.  Pathetic. 

Actually, on bad days it's worse than that, but I've dwelt on the knee enough.  Suffice to say, my dreams of becoming a ballerina are over.  Heh.  I'm kidding. 

Well, can't think of anything else. 

- Jim

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

I had to put the air conditioner back in.  Though my room gets cool at times, it's still hot enough during the day to make the temperature in here above 80° F.  My comfort is important, but not nearly as important as my computers.  Besides, I sleep better with the air on.

I doubt anyone checks as much as me, but if you've noticed my Seti@home numbers dropping, it's not my fault.  Apparently my newer computer wasn't getting all the work it could have because of a problem with the Seti@home servers.  Blah blah, problem was eventually fixed.  Incidentally, that probably increased the temperature in here by another five degrees or so just from that.

Anyway, still reading, toe still broken, blah blah blah. 

Take care of yourselves,

- Jim

- Jim

Friday, October 05, 2012

I've been working on both of these for a while.  Just thought I should share what I'm doing.  I've been working on both for a few days already.  There's no rush on the Tom Clancy book, but I feel the need to read even when I'm taking a break from reading.  Weird.  Anyway, there you go.

- Jim

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

I just wanted to mention that despite the whole toe thing, my plan is coming together, though more slowly than I'd hoped.  Too late for some things I suppose, if that hope ever had mattered.  Still, my weight is coming down, I'm getting visibly thinner, and my blood pressure is lowering again. 

Still working on reading though.  That list has gotten insanely long.  I honestly think that if I lost internet access, my library card was stolen, my legs were cut off, and I could live forever, I'd still never run out of things to read.  Or at least, not for many, many lifetimes. 

I'd better hurry along then.

- Jim
Contrary to popular belief, I will be fine.  I'm not happy about current circumstances, but as there's nothing I can do change them, I'll just go on.

- Jim

Sunday, September 30, 2012

From now on, if someone I'm debating doesn't understand the square peg/round hole concept, I'm going to let them win.  The forces of truth and justice can never defeat ignorance of that magnitude.  Seriously, what Kindergarten did these people attend? 

- Jim

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Okay, I'm done.  That's all the toe-related stuff I have.  I think it's healing, but one way or another it takes time to do so.  In the meantime, though I try to limit using it or aggravating it, there are a hundred different ways we use our toes that we never realize until it hurts to do so.

According to my handy countdown clock on my iGoogle page, there are just 93 days until the end of the year.  Yes, this is THAT post.  Time is running out and I'm trying to get things done.  Just wanted to mention that I'm cutting down on many other things in order to finish what I can.  It's a losing battle, of course, but it's a battle I'm used to waging.  It's not that I don't work hard the rest of the year (though I suppose one might argue that), it's that I always bite off more than I can chew. 

I also make everything harder than it needs to be when I do so.  Half of what I do pertains to process and it's amazing how much time I waste trying to perfect a process that is nearly pointless to the end product. 

Back when I was a Gamemaster for MERP (or Dungeon Master if you prefer), there was a... deadline for getting adventure sites done.  It was a hard deadline, since we had to play the next day or whenever, but it was typically more of an outline for suggested sites rather than a totally finished product.  The problem was that if I sketched the left hand side in detail, the players would invariably choose to go right just because they secretly knew how to mess with my mind.  The other part of that is that if I worked inhumanly hard and finished everything, the players would invariably fight each other outside of the adventure site and thus ruin all of the work.  Artifacts and adventure sites rarely repeated in multiple locations, else they wouldn't be called artifacts or adventure sites.

Still, it's the process that rankled me the most.  Looking at it, I saw where the holes were, even if the players accidentally forgot to find them.  The problem is that there are always holes.  The universe keeps expanding and there are always things and places that aren't sketched to completion.  Indeed, the whole "sketch" part is part of the problem.

Ah well.  This post ended up being longer than I wanted it to be.  Must be the OCD thing kicking up again.  Anyway, it's time to get to work.

- Jim

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I know I'm weird, but I am insane about books.  When I get any extra money, I try and buy books.  When I create those to-do lists, half of them are books.  I like to read.

Well, when my Sister's house burned during the summer, they lost all of their books.  The ones that survived the fire were destroyed by water and mold damage.  I don't have the money to replace anything as yet, but since I'd planned on reading the Harry Potter series before the end of the year, I decided to give them my books when I'm done with them.  They got the first three, plus the fifth book already, since I had two copies of them.  The rest are waiting for me to finish them.

It's also good because somehow I've managed to hurt my back.  It may be because of the fall, either directly or indirectly.  I hit my toe while I sleep, which seems to cause me to contort into weird positions during sleep.  I've caught myself doing it.  Between the two, my back is killing me.  Every single day for the past... week, at least.  One day or even a couple days isn't enough for me to mention in a post, but this is crazy.

The toe continues to look messed up.  I'll give it time, mostly because I consider most doctors worthless, but the toe looks... deviated.  Not just broken, but possibly broken in a couple places and not healing straight/right.  It's like a road they built from two ends, but when they met, they discovered their measurements were off by ten or twenty feet. 

Anyway, that's about it.  Physical activities are even more severely curtailed because of this.  Damn them.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

So Yahoo! reported my email had been hacked.  Conveniently, they upgraded my email from classic to the new crap they have now.  That's it, and the change can't be undone.  Yahoo! wants everyone to change to their new version anyway.  Did I mention that was very convenient?

- Jim

Thursday, September 20, 2012

This isn't really the post you think it will be.  I hope.

I had this vague idea of being able to increase mobility.  I don't know how successful I might have been, but there are things I wanted to do.  Unfortunately, the broken toe has prevented that for the time being.  I really don't think it's permanent, but for the time being it means plans are put on hold.

Unfortunately, the timing could have been better.  There was a Suicide Prevention Walk going on that I would have liked to attend.  Despite what people think, I'm not really as anti-social as I seem to be.  Even so, it wasn't about being social - too many of my friends and peers have chosen that way out.  I'm being somewhat hypocritical here, but that's what I do best.

Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to go.  I probably wouldn't have been able to do the whole thing with my knee anyway, but there's just no way I'd make it past the car ride there now.  Walking sucks, but the whole wearing a shoe with this thing is what really gets it.  Sheesh.

I just want to say that I would have been there if I could have.  I'm not entirely sure it would have been for the right reasons, but some of those people lost were friends. 

- Jim

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mentor397 - The Toe Blog.

It's not meant to be this way, but this is what it seems to be.  Sorry about that.

It's been a couple weeks since I fell.  It's been a week since I cracked the toe again, or at least, it made a cracking noise when I abused it.  Over the last couple of days, it has mysteriously swollen and gotten darker.  Did I do something while I slept?  Is it something more nefarious?  I have no idea.  I'll give it a couple days and if I don't go insane from lack of sleep, I will probably head to the doctor. 


- Jim

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Now that I've scared everyone away, I may have changed my mind about this blog.  I certainly like the idea more than I like the idea of Facebook.  People come here if they want to know things.  It's not like I'm shouting to get their attention.

The toe was injured again.  If it wasn't broken before, it certainly is now.  I'll be limiting my exercise for a while, I guess.

- Jim

Monday, September 03, 2012

As a follow up to the last post, I am nearly fine now.  The muscles don't really ache any more, the knee is a little sore, but I'm sure it's just a bruise now.  The toe is probably broken, but the one next to it is likely only bruised as well.  So, I'll be on light duty - well, I've not really been anything but light for years, but I'll be on lighter duty for a week or two, but I expect I'll be back to normal after that.

- Jim

Saturday, September 01, 2012

I don't know if this is a reason enough to write, but some people actually follow events in my life.  This post then is for them.

Blah blah, I injured myself six years ago.  Hurt my knee at work.  The surgery to fix it didn't really fix it and as a result, I am legally disabled.  It's lame (well nearly so), but it's what it is.  I've been trying to change that over time, with mixed results.  I'm not ever going to run again or do jumping jacks, but I thought that perhaps with exercise and effort, I could at least get around on my own. 

Now, six years of effort sounds like a lot, and at times it was, but I'm not active by any means.  I am more active than I was, I suppose.  Or I was more active than I was, if that makes sense.

Blah blah, this story takes too long.  I went out on Wednesday evening to roll up the windows in the car.  This shouldn't be a big thing and it wasn't really meant to be.  I didn't wear shoes though and in addition to walking weird because of my injured knee, I walked funny because I have sensitive feet.  The stones in the path leading to the car aren't well-seated, and one was loose.  I tripped when the stone flipped over, stumbled when my toe caught on the stone and landed on the cement driveway.

I thought I died.  For a minute I was sure I would.  I've always said that I had just one fall in me left, and apparently I was wrong.  At the moment though, I'm even more positive the next one will kill me.  I landed on my "good" knee and twisted/hyperextended a couple of the toes on that foot as well.  The rest of the injuries - skinned knee and elbow, bruised shoulder, are really inconsequential.  At least one toe is probably broken, the other one is probably just bruised.  The "good" knee is probably just bruised as well, but being the good knee, it's put more pressure on the bad knee.

So, in short, I'm probably not going to be a ballerina any time soon.

All in all, I'm fine.  I walk a little more unsteadily.  I sleep even less as there don't seem to be any sleeping positions that don't aggravate something somewhere.   Climbing into bed is an adventure and may lead to me killing myself right there.  Anyway, as I said, some people have heard things and I wanted to lay things to rest before people got too worried.

- Jim

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Okay, I lied... sorta.  This will be the last public post I make, barring any unforeseen developments.  The blog will remain up for a while as I assemble everything by hand.  By "a while", I mean a long, long time.  Months, probably, since I have other projects ongoing as well.

Take care,

- Jim

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Unless something outrageous happens, this will be my last post in public.  The journal has served its purpose and I'm going to be transferring it to a more private home under my total control (or as total as anything is these days).  this is a project that has been coming for quite some time and it needed to be done.  Still, I can't pretend that recent events or non-events haven't played a role.  Time is passing and the time for this blog has passed, I think.

- Jim

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Happy Birthday to me, Happy birthday to meeeeee...

So I can't sing.  Sue me.  No, don't bother.  Unless you're into table top role playing, I don't have anything worth taking.

I keep going back to that earlier post.  Well, not really.  What if's, I suppose.  If only I hadn't been broken by my last... well, every single girlfriend I've had in the past.  If only... well, if wishes were nickles, at least my money problems would be solved.

Believe it or not, I have been working on stuff.  Well, not totally.  I did spend some time with the family since they pre-celebrated my birthday.  But before and after I did a bunch of things.  Nothing major - I didn't cure cancer or finish writing a novel, but I did start the long process of catching up with all the stuff here on my desk. 

- Jim

Friday, August 10, 2012

In the olden days, it wasn't a big deal for me to walk anywhere.  Exercise wasn't a problem for me and it was, for a while there, quite common for me to walk six, eight, ten miles in a day.  Just because.  After the knee injury, that's not happening.  There is still, however, a need for that exercise.  I may have found that spot, or at least have gotten closer to it.  I notice that I've been losing weight lately.

I suppose it helps to suffer unrequited love sometimes.  Nah, it'd never work - she's more than ten years younger than me.  And my relative age is the only failing among many that I'm not responsible for.  Still, positive changes, I suppose.

Anyway, here's to positive changes. 

Oh yeah, one day does not catch up an entire summer of missed deadlines.  Still, things are progressing forward.  I'm pretty happy about that, even with all the pining for that unrequited stuff.

- Jim

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Things have calmed down a bit.  So, before the storm erupts again as it inevitably does, I'm going to take the time to catch up on some things.  It's not anything new, but I am always behind in my reading, writing, and my DVR. 

- Jim

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Since we have foolishly chosen to anger those in power at Beloit, Wisconsin's code enforcement, we have received a litany of additional complaints.  Flower bushes?  Had to go.  Weeds?  Too many of them.  The dog smell?  Yup.  How that wasn't on the original list, I'm not sure.  Oh wait, because if you anger the police officer, you soon find a broken tail light.  In the same way, we're finding new levels of their abuse of power.

On a similar note, the police have been to our house several times over the past few years to tell us that if we see anyone doing anything improper in the nearby cemetery, that we should call and report it.  Well, today we did.  The police actually arrived this time, and told the kids to leave.  No warnings, no tickets, no talks with parents, no nothing.  Sigh.

This isn't going to be a blog about everything that sucks about Beloit, Wisconsin.  But, the posts for the next several days will probably be along those lines.

- Jim
My Sister and her kids got a house - well, a trailer.  They're still in the process of moving in, though they did stay there on Monday night.  Unfortunately, they don't have food or most of their furniture, so they're using the hotel accommodations while they have them. 

It still makes this household a pretty busy place for much of the day.  In many ways, this has been the disaster response headquarters, as well as a place for some of the kids to seek sanctuary.  They got a game system that they use at the hotel, but only a limited number of people can use it at one time.

We got a notice from the city.  While some of the accusations were probably warranted, many of them seem more than a little superfluous.  At their behest, we moved our patio furniture off our patio and onto the end of our driveway.  I'm not sure what they have against patio furniture, but now it can't be on the driveway either.  They're also making us remove a couple small, flat concrete blocks which served as burial markers for a couple of the family pets.  Seriously Beloit?

Beloit - A Family Place.  Hahahahaha.

No, seriously, that's their motto.  Another one is that they're green - all pro-environmental and stuff.  They made us remove our compost heap years ago, as well as the worm box we had for fishing.  Honestly, I don't get it.  Yeah, I do.  We live in a poor neighborhood, our house is in the lowest tier of property values, and some of us lean conservative.  I am regularly amazed they don't stand outside our doors with torches and pitchforks, but I figure it's only a matter of time.

They're rebooting uh -ish, The Brady Bunch?  Yeah, you read that right.

- Jim

Saturday, July 28, 2012

On some level, one could call the last couple weeks a sort of vacation.  I did end up playing more video games than usual.  As a matter of fact, aside from a game of minesweeper or similar games, I'd mostly stopped playing before then.  I'm not complaining, but the impending deadlines that I set for myself became somewhat of an obsession with me.

But, with all the extra people around, and dogs, things just got too wild to do more complicated stuff.  I can't read with other people around.  Really.  I gave up on the hard stuff early on - I know better.  So, I took a look at the incredibly long list of books I had and picked an easy one - When the Tripods Came, by John Christopher.  I'd read it a couple times before, but this is MY copy now.  So, I figured I'd read it. 

Yeah no.  Even that's too complicated with everyone around.

Well, it's been a long couple weeks.  Most of the kids have gotten sick of hanging around here because we (mostly I) are "too boring".  In their defense, the kids have very little in the way of personal possessions.  They're tired of staying in a hotel during the nights and tired of being here during the days. The dogs on the other hand, are in here all the time.  I don't read with allergy headaches either, though I've tried.  And failed.  Cleaning might help, but it's hard to tell.  First, there's no way to clean faster than they shed.  Second, cleaning kicks up about as many allergens as not cleaning does.

Well, if things work out, they'll be getting their own place as early as Monday.  It may take a day or two to get fully moved in, but things look good in the direction.  They've gotten some of their things replaced.  Others, they'll have to work at. 

High hopes.

- Jim
But there is light at the end of the tunnel.  If everything works out, they're signing papers for a place on Monday. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I've been away from my computer more lately.  It doesn't help with the things I need/want to do, but it does give the kids something else to do when they're over here.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  They shouldn't spend their whole summer playing computer games, but the point is that they lost just about everything they owned and I'm giving them as much leeway as I think is appropriate.  Besides, there've been more than a few really hot days during this period where it's unsafe to spend all day outside playing.

I don't know all the details, but they're looking at a couple houses.  Life is moving on, but slowly.  It's  probably too slow for them, but this is actually faster than I expected it to be.  Their old house is a total loss and will be torn down.  Whatever survived the fire and the burglaries was damaged by smoke, water, and the elements.  Speaking of which, there was a rather destructive little storm that passed through the area.   Granted, everything there was ruined already, but it didn't help matters any.

Okay, technically not everything, but close enough.  There's a company that came in and is attempting to clean the stuff.  Most of it is really beyond their abilities - I guess the mold is really bad.  I won't be going there any time soon.  I have enough problems with allergies now.

Um, that's about it.  I've been reading and stuff while I have time, but it's hard with kids running around demanding attention.  Apparently, though I've known this for a while, I do my best work alone.  It just amazes me how much I ever got done in the olden days when I was more social.

- Jim

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's been over a week since the fire.  Things aren't settling back to normal yet, but much of the crisis is gone.  That doesn't make things easier though - in a crisis, there's more help available.  Now the more tedious work of cataloging loss, replacing items, finding a new house, and every other major and minor detail must be attended to.  What makes it worse is that even if there were more help, the assistance that could possibly be provided is limited.  It's not the emergency kind where clothes of any style and many sizes could be used to help cover gaps, it's where specific things are needed at specific times.

Combine all that with the fact that the kids are tired of living in hotels, eating fast food, not having personal items, and so on.  The fact that everyone is cramped up in one room (or two) just makes matters worse.

Things came to a head a couple times.  Nothing real major, but it's important to handle these things early.  The problem is that the underlying causes - the loss of personal space and possession, won't be solved for some time.  They can't be.  Even if they could replace all the personal items lost right now, there'd be no place to put them.  Even if they got a house tomorrow, there'd be nothing to put in there.  The fact that neither of these two things are immediately possible means a solution will also take time.

It was probably a combination of all of this, but most of that family came over today and almost promptly fell asleep.  For hours.  I'm not complaining, it was probably good for them.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I would normally post something like this sooner, but the last few days have been insane.  This summer has been pretty hot for the entire United States.  It has also been dry as well.  I'm not sure how important all this background is, but on Sunday, it cooled down enough that my Sister's family decided to stay up late and have a family movie night.  Right in the middle of The Goonies, everyone in her family was in the living room, either outright asleep or dozing. 

Suddenly there was a loud pop, and all of the smoke alarms in the house went off.  As the house filled with smoke, my Sister got the dogs on leashes and her and the kids all got out safe.  That's really the important part - everyone, including the pets, got out safe.

Then their house burned.  The fire damage was pretty much contained to the second floor, though some bedrooms on the second floor were totally destroyed.  I don't want to scare anyone, but if there hadn't been a family movie night, this would have been a totally different story.  The rest of the house suffered extensive (or complete) smoke and water damage.  Some of the kids lost everything they owned in the fire. 

Luckily (on a relative scale), I'd been checking the scanner feed before going to bed and noticed the address.  My Sister didn't have a phone, so couldn't call us right away.  No big deal, we were there and got the kids over at our house eventually.  There was smoke from the fire more than a mile away.  Blah blah blah, the family had lots of help from friends, strangers, church groups, and more family.  They're hardly living the high life, but life is continuing. 


Not everyone in this world is so helpful.  After the flames died and the firefighters left, the house was broken into at least twice.  Yup.  Remember when I said all the kids got out safe?  They did, but they had to physically stop the youngest one from going back in to rescue his Transformer toy.  It was on the first floor and though it undoubtedly smelled like smoke, it likely survived the fire.  It didn't survive the thieves though.  It's gone.  Luckily, uncle Jimmy was a fan of the show back in the 80's, and in place of an Ironhide transformer from the new movies, my nephew got a brand-new Pepsi Optimus Prime.  We also spent a couple days watching old Transformer cartoons on DVD as well.

So, on the one hand, I'm happy that most of the people were extremely helpful.  On the other, I hope the people who broke in and stole kids toys (among other things) got life-threatening lung infections from the smoke and are now dying.  Not that I'm bitter or anything. 

- Jim

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The last few days have been a mess.  Money issues, mostly.  I haven't posted because I'm quitting soda - caffeine.  So, I've been suffering more than usual.  I didn't get many headaches, but I did sleep about three hundred hours a day.

That changed yesterday, and this is the important part.  My Sister's house caught on fire.  The good news is that everyone made it out okay and the pets are all fine.  The bad news is that much of the second floor was simply unaccessible and so they don't have any clothes, toys, books, or anything like that.  They managed to get a few things out, but it will take a lot of stuff to keep the family going.

For the moment, the kids and my Sister are staying with us.  It makes things crowded, but they had little choice in the matter.  We're all helping as best we can and trying to make things work.

- Jim

Monday, July 09, 2012

Well, the heat wave is over and life is back to normal.  I want to note something here, I'm not really complaining about the heat for myself.  Yeah, it was hot.  Yeah, I may have even had a touch of heat exhaustion.  Yeah, it was my own fault, so I'll own up to that.  No, any changes I made to my plans and lifestyle during the past week were for the family dog.  It's silly in a way, but it's only a week out of my life, and it's not like I spent the entire week in my room, in the dark, doing nothing.  There were a couple periods like that, but I'd like to call them sleep. 

Actually, I had lots of problems sleeping.  Ah, blah blah blah dog.  I'm not here to blame anything on the dog except my allergies.

Anyway, during the week, Seti@home was either turned way down or totally shut down.  It's back up, I'm doing work again, it'll be a couple days before the numbers return to where they were.  I can't make that time up, but I can get back to doing what I was.  In that area at least.  On a side note, there were stretches of time when all of the computers were turned off as well.  One almost only runs Seti@home and the rest of the stuff it does I either lived without or did on the main computer.  It's a little more complicated and crowded, but it's that much less heat. 

I also didn't watch a lot of television either.  Just enough Forensic Files to keep the DVR from overfilling.  Actually, now that I think about it, I didn't watch an entire episode of Forensic Files either.  They were all repeats that I'd seen dozens of times.  I'm a fan of Forensic Files, but this is ridiculous.  Then again, it was good for this week. I'm not too sad.

I did get to play some old computer games like Doom, Heretic, Terminal Velocity, and um.. Minesweeper.  There was some downtime and playing computer games is both therapeutic and pretty easy.  I don't have to hook anything up, I don't have to have lights on or special equipment running, and I can do it with the fan on full blast (for the dog).  Even internet movies get pretty hard to watch for me with all the background noise.  I have headphones too.  Dang hearing.

That isn't to say I gave up on the plan or list, but there were times when I just got frustrated enough at the distractions caused by the heat or the dog or I got tired of fighting with the fan to read the book I was reading.  Magazines were even worse, by the way.  So, during these periods, I found other things to fill my time and some of them were even productive.  One, might hold a promise, but it needs more time to do proper research and thinking about it.  I started that, but it's not something I want to rush into. 

While we're on that, I hesitate to promise more than I can deliver since it seems I do that a lot, but there is more promise.  Well, there are more possibilities than I thought of.  How useful these possibilities may be aren't fully apparent to me.  But it gives me a little more hope for the future.  Don't get me wrong - I'm still plenty ambivalent about my future, but I'm not slicing my wrists just yet.  I'm not suicidal anyway.  A more accurate description would be that if I fell down dead this very instant, I would be a little more disappointed than I would have if it had happened a month ago.  As I said, ambivalent.

I've also made a lot more plans and got a lot more ideas.  I may have even been productive, but it's hard to say.  I passed a milestone last month and I never remarked about it in the blog - namely, that it's been five years since I've been in this position by my own choices and by circumstance.  I won't say that it's been entirely unproductive, but it has hardly been fruitful.  Still, I know a lot more than I did before.  I know pitfalls that I want to avoid as well.  I think I have a more independent voice than I did as well, less imitative of others who influenced me over the years.  Is it enough?  Well, if I ever produce something, it might be.

Anyway, enough typing for the moment, I have to finish reading this library book.

- Jim

Friday, July 06, 2012

For those keeping track, while the heat wave continues, I have limited my Seti@home work to almost nothing.  Yeah, the heat sucks.  Yeah, I'm worried about my computer.  The family dog has been taking refuge in the relative relief of the computer room and since the relief is just that - relative, I've been turning off electronical devices as much as possible to lower the heat generated by them. 

The only exception is my air filter, which I just turned back on.  It doesn't create a lot of heat, nor use a lot of electricity, but since I still stay in here most of the day working, it helps with my allergies.  As I said, I worry about the dog, but I'm very allergic to her.  Sigh.

Uh anyway, while all that's going on, it's been harder to get anything done.  I've done what I can, but to be honest, it's not as much as I was doing just a week ago.  Stuff like this just takes more time out of the day.

- Jim

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

I got this message today:

Your browser is no longer supported by Blogger. Some parts of Blogger will not work and you may experience problems.
If you are having problems, try Google Chrome.

That's all well and good.  I mean, Microsoft does it to force people to use their programs.  Wouldn't it be better though to make a better browser that people would WANT to use instead of trying to trick or force them into using it?

For the record, I use Chrome.  Just not all the time, nor do I use it to post my blogs.  If that has to change, then I can just as easily take the blogs offline.  I've been meaning to do it for a while anyway.

It's still a win for you, Google, but not by much.

- Jim

Monday, July 02, 2012

I hope this won't become a regular occurrence, but my house, if I remember correctly, is something like 120 years old.  I know it's well more than a hundred years old.  I firmly believe that it was wired for electricity before they realized that electricity could do useful things.  Anyway, with the heat wave the area is experiencing, combined with the fact that the wiring could withstand no more than a single small piddly air conditioner, I have turned Seti@home off.  Well, mostly off.  It runs a bit in the night usually, but not much.

Honestly, I could withstand more heat, but the computer runs hot anyway, and the dog is not doing well.  Fur sounds like a great idea in the winter, but it's probably torture in weather like this.  I've been running Seti@home for years, but it's not worth a dog's life.

Anyway, I've been reading, doing a little writing, but mostly reading.  I finished A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, and I'm working on a book I got from the library - The Midnight Disease.  Very interesting reading.  I've got the next three books in the A Song of Fire and Ice series, so I'll keep busy for a while.

- Jim

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This isn't a new idea, though it is mostly a new post.  I've written similar ones to it, but I don't think I've ever let them survive to be seen. 

I am mostly the same person I was back when I graduated from high school.  I still like the same things, I still play the same games - or at least am still interested in the same games, I still read the same books, watch the same kinds of shows, and listen to the same music.  But.  I am older, and if not wiser, then I am more bitter and less hopeful about the future.  I am less blinded by optimism and more guarded in my feelings.  But my beliefs about right and wrong haven't changed much at all. 

And so, the old me is still here, not so far away from the me that I am today.  He looks at me and is often disgusted.  I am often disgusted with myself.  Yeah, he understands that I've been injured, for example.  He knows I don't get around as easily as I used to.  But he wouldn't accept the life I lead, though he'd probably understand me being as antisocial as I am sometimes.  Even he liked being alone more than he liked being with others.

But this... the existence I lead - non-productive, non-fun, non-functional existence would kill him.  It kills me.  It shames me that I contribute so little to my own existence.  It shames me even more that I have so little an excuse for my lack of productivity.  The words of some cut deeply - Who do I think I am, believing I know something when I do so little?

I don't have an answer, but I more often believe they're right. 

- Jim

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's about that time again.  I don't allow comments on this blog because this isn't meant to be a debate, but rather a sort of public newsletter.  Still, every now and then people want to get ahold of me.  Still, I don't make it too easy, because again, there's too many people on the internet with nothing better to do than start trouble.  I figure if you go to the effort, it actually means something.

Down on the right, way at the bottom is a single link to email me.  Otherwise, I'm found all over the internet as Mentor397, like the title of the blog.

- Jim

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I'm making the attempt to write more, and spend more time writing.  Not here certainly, but in the novels.  Anyway, due to recent events, the schedule is all messed up anyway.  I haven't truly abandoned it, but I've not spent the time on it that I should have. 

Another thing you may notice (or not), is that my progress in Seti@home has slowed.  I've noticed that even on cool days, the computer runs very hot when Seti@home runs.  On these really hot days, I flinch.  I've been shutting computers and programs down as the heat intensifies.  I have plans to mitigate, I think, but it'll have to wait a few days as I get supplies and funds.

- Jim

Friday, June 15, 2012

So the guy who got me interested in politics in high school and who got me back into church is now a fan of skeptic Christopher Hitchens and doesn't vote.  The world is a topsy turvy place.

- Jim

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Well, now things are... better.  I'll be online for the foreseeable future.  That very big problem actually managed to mostly get fixed, turning it into a much more manageable issue. 

However... in all the excitement, my sister had a sort of mini seizure.  It as probably less stress related and more like... um, heat stress related.  Things have quieted down on their own though, but it's atypical both in the event and the followup.  I'm not sure how to handle that idea.  Yeah, I'm happy it seems to be over, but I'm nervous when things go differently than they usually do.

"Usual" is a relative term, of course. 

Anyway, just figured I'd give an update, such as it is.

- Jim

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Well, things are worse.  One of the bad things about living in the situation I do is that while it's cheap, every so often, finances tend to explode due to bad decisions.  Not mine, of course, but they always seem to explode farther than I can mitigate.

So here we are again.

At any time it seems I will likely be offline.  If that happens, it we be for a long, long time.

- Jim

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's been a period of upheaval these past days.  I'm handling it as best I can, but my usual diplomatic self is well, not my usual diplomatic self.  So I've been keeping myself offline as much as possible and off social media as much as I can.  I still check messages and reply if needed, but I'm limiting my participation in everything else.  I should be back in 8 days.  I hope.

For the moment, my priorities are just trying to stay sane.  In the future, if things work out, my priorities will be far different.  I'm not going to repeat this process any more than I have to.

Unfortunately, expect more of these periods for a while.  We must all pay for the consequences of our actions and of those around us.

- Jim

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Okay, the Sister is home and is sleeping.  What little I know about these things is that after one of them happens, she gets very tired.  She'll likely sleep for the rest of the day.

As much as things can be, all is well now.

- Jim
At the risk of sounding like I may be complaining a bit, last night was the first weekend of summer vacation.  My nephew ran away from home, necessitating a search by police and family.  He was found a couple hours later.  My Sister was taken by ambulance about a half hour ago to the ER after suffering a seizure and hallucination.

A long night.  Luckily I had enough caffeine to get me through it.  I'll post later if I hear anything else.

- Jim

Sunday, June 03, 2012

I don't write in this blog enough.  To tell you the truth, as amazing as it sounds, days when work gets done just aren't that exciting.  Work being a relative term, mind you.  Think of it less as work and more like a working Bucket List, I suppose.  I've always wanted to read, A Tale Of Two Cities, for example, so it goes on the list.  As the list lengthened beyond all hope of ever finishing, I've broken parts of it up, in order to keep things more manageable.  A Tale Of Two Cities is still on the list, but I probably won't read it for a year or more.

Anyway, I had the usual allergy episode, though it was lengthened.  It started earlier, and the sleepiness part of it came later, I think.  Seriously, for the last couple weeks, all I've done is sleep.  I'll be up for a couple hours, the headache (if not present already) comes a couple hours later, and I get sleepy from allergies or allergy meds or both.  It's a wonder I got anything done at all, and usually I didn't.

There were the usual family issues - injuries, illness, drama, etc.  It's not been boring around here. 

Anyway, among other ongoing projects, I've started reading, A Game Of Thrones.  If you remember, I got it around my birthday last year, which would make it sometime in August.  Yeah, I'm actually further behind than that with everything, but I figured that I needed to start it.  I'm in no rush though - I don't have the fifth book and the series isn't even all published (or written) yet.  I hate waiting.

Anyway, that's about it.  I'm outta here.

- Jim

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stalkers gotta stalk.

I used to think this guy might have had a reason for what he's doing.  Now I just think he does it for attention. 

- Jim

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I have to brag for a minute.  The first million cobblestones for Seti@home took me a long time - more than five years, I think.  I now passed my third million mark.  WOOOO!

Heh.  Yeah, it's not a record for anyone but me, but I'm pretty happy about it.

- Jim

Friday, May 25, 2012

I know that statistically speaking, May is no worse than any other month for tragedies and sorrow.  I know that it is superstitious to think so.  And yet, May is not my friend.

My 4th grade Sunday School teacher died.  I know it sounds odd, but he was one of the two people that got me really into the whole church thing.  I'm sure he had his flaws, but if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be as religious as I am today.  Why he put up with helping me as much as he did speaks wonders for his patience and dedication.

I'm not saying I was a bad kid, but there is always room for improvement.  It's one thing to try and help your own kids, or the popular kids.  It's another thing to help the kids that most of the rest of the church look down upon. 

He's a good guy.  The world is poorer for his passing, but I'm sure Heaven is much richer for it.

- Jim

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One look at my year-long to-do list would reveal a problem:  namely, that there isn't enough time in a year to get to everything on the list.  In addition, a year is a long time, and things invariably pop up that are unintended.  The recent book challenge was one of them.  Yeah, I had put writing on the list, but that kind of book was unanticipated. 

What I've done recently, is that I've cut the year up into segments of one to three months.  The deadlines are just as arbitrary as anything else I do, but it helps to show where I am, and makes the list look more manageable.  My success has been limited however, because well, there's still too much to do in such a short span of time.  Some of the issues have been overestimating what I could possibly do, personal drama, family drama, and outside events.  I'm not really going to go into details.  May, as one example, is a horribly bad month for me. 

Oh yeah, this is May.

That being said, it hasn't been just failure after failure.  I've gotten my reading and my DVR more under control.  While neither are perfectly managed, they are better so.  Life is about learning, and the simple fact is that I want to do too much all at once.  Sometimes it leads to overload. 

The thing is that I don't have many day to day tasks.  Reading the paper.  Hygiene.  Eating.  That's about it.  All of the other things I work on tend to be bigger, usually much bigger.  Laid out end to end, my DVR last week would have required more than seventy-four hours to get through all the stuff saved on it.  While some hours are worth more than others, I now have twenty percent free where I had three last week.

I will admit that watching television doesn't really pass as work, but it is often an effort that must be balanced against other demands of my time.  Writing is something that can go on forever - I know, I've seen it.  The task there is also to break it into more manageable segments without making it more work than it needs to be.  The simple truth is that I'm still learning how to write and learning how to make it all come together.  Being a dungeon master for an RPG game was good experience, but all the time in the world doesn't mean you get more done.  It means each story can be endlessly polished.  Forever.

I tend to babble.  Anyway, things seem to be happening more, even with the whole May thing going on.  Most of that stuff is over now, I hope.  The rest is just life.

- Jim

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I didn't finish the story by my self-imposed deadline.  Part of that is simply the nature of the month of May.  This is the where the whole "Month From Hell" came from and there are a lot of periods where I go to darker places.  When I don't go there, I still remember them and mark the occasions.  Part of it is simply the nature of the beast.  It was an imperfect rushed job when I wrote it sixteen years ago, and rushing now isn't going to finish it.  I refuse to spend forever on this project, but I want to make sure I do it right.

Oh yeah.  May 16th.  I used to mark that day too.  I suppose I still do, in my own way, but with more bitterness and regret.  No, I don't regret the things I had to do, but I do regret that they had to happen.  I'm sure that won't matter to some, but I'm not living for the approval of others any more either.

- Jim

Thursday, May 10, 2012

@FoxBroadcasting - HEY HEY!  There There!  Put Breaking In back on the air!  HEY HEY!  There There!  Put Breaking In back on the air!

- Jim

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

It's been three years today since my Uncle John died.  The date itself seems less important than the others because I was so sick at the time.  I grieved, but wasn't able to see him or even attend the funeral.

I think I may have mentioned before how much I dislike the month of May.

- Jim

Friday, May 04, 2012

May is never a good month.

Yesterday morning (Thursday), my Niece came home from work to find her dog being attacked by the pit bull from next door.  My Niece's dog was chained with a heavy logging chain while the other dog had the advantage.  Details are a bit sketchy, but the police weren't called until my Niece got there.

Her dog lived through the initial attack, though severely injured.  Despite heroic efforts by the vet, the dog passed away this morning.  The neighbor blames the chained up dog for being "aggressive".  Seriously.

On tomorrow (Saturday), it will mark six years since my Brother passed away at the age of 40.  I plan to mark the occasion as I usually do.

On the fifteenth, it will mark five years since my Mother passed away.

Yeah, this month sucks.

- Jim

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The first rewrite is complete.  Yeah, that's not as big a thing as it could have been.  It was transferring a paper copy back to my computer.  Yeah, I could have saved time and cut and pasted the digital file I recovered and then fixed the formatting, but retyping it forced me to reacquaint myself with all of the material.  Not that it was entirely a good thing though. 

I hate it.

No.  I don't really.  I'm just sick of it at the moment.  Spend enough time on something and you get tired of it real fast, especially when it seems you're not making much headway.  I'm sure I was making progress, but there are further changes and fixes that need to be made. 

But, the first rewrite is complete. 

I'm taking the night off and then I'll start back to work on it tomorrow.

- Jim

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Nearly sixteen years ago, I finished a short story for an online thing that I was into.  It was entirely my own creation and it was one of the many steps I took in deciding I wanted to write one day.  It was a um... unique story, and a genre that I thought dead.  Silly me.

I found a publishing company (the original one, mind you) that takes submissions for these things.  Though I finished the original story in just three days, I'm taking my time this time to get it done right.  I've already completed several steps in order to do it.  The originals were locked away on a 3.5" disk and I had to build a computer just to read it and copy it, for example.

Anyway, the writing was done sixteen years ago and I'm in the middle of the first major rewrite since then.  Then I'll rewrite it again.  And again probably. 

Trouble is, I'm broke.  I'll have money again in a couple weeks, so I figure that's as good a deadline as any.  I want the book done by then, and I want it mailed a couple days after that.  I'll allow that much time for the vagaries of time and space and the post office.  Unfortunately, I'm not in control of such things.  It doesn't mean that it'll get published, but I'm hoping so. 

That process will take much longer, I'm afraid.

- Jim

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I've been sick for a couple days.  Nothing serious, just a cold, but I was achy, which was annoying.  Anyway, here's a link.  As usual, this article was stolen from The Beloit Daily News without permission or goodwill.  Attribution was left in, but that's more of a personal preference than necessary this time. 

Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 4:00 pm

On Easter morning, 2011, the day began just like any other. I read the news and called my Dad to tell him about an accident I’d read about. I’m sorry to say that I’m horrible with names or I would have known, as I was telling him, that I was reading about the death of my cousin and her nineteen year old grandson.

While both were out delivering newspapers in Janesville, another driver was legally intoxicated by both alcohol and marijuana. He blew through a controlled intersection and into the van carrying my relatives. The grandson died nearly instantly and my cousin lived for several days, critically injured, in the hospital. In addition to the two, their dog had perished as well.
Severely injured, the driver at fault was taken to a hospital, from where he escaped. It was obvious he didn’t want to take responsibility for what he had done. He was caught and returned to the hospital and then sent to jail, awaiting trial. We’d lost family, but finally we thought that we would see justice.
Of the eleven counts the driver was charged with, nine were dropped in a plea agreement. The prosecutor is recommending no more than seven years incarceration for his taking of both lives. Seven years. There are people in prison for far less who will serve more time than him.

Look, I know the DUI laws in Wisconsin are a joke. This morning another man was arrested in Janesville for his fifth DUI. Fifth. How many lives were put at risk during the first four I wonder? It’s time we demand more from our legislators, prosecutors, and judicial system. Maybe we can’t bring back those we’ve lost, but perhaps we can prevent any further loss of life.

James A. Long

- Jim

Friday, April 20, 2012

This story was stolen from the Janesville Gazette without permission.  Attribution has been left in place.  First, here's the link to the original:

Janesville man pleads guilty to homicide charges

By ANN MARIE AMES ( Contact )   Thursday, April 19, 2012
Omar Tavizon Ramos, right, listens to his defense attorney Michael Murphy during Ramos' preliminary hearing. Tavizon Ramos is accused of killing Margaret Worden and her grandson Jeffery Bauer by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle.

— A Janesville man accused of killing two people while driving drunk in 2011 has changed his plea to guilty as part of an agreement with the Rock County District Attorney’s Office.
In exchange, nine related counts will be dismissed but considered at sentencing.

Omar Tavizon Ramos, 22, of 2147 Mt. Zion Ave., Janesville, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Rock County Court to two counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. He is charged in the deaths of Jeffery S. Bauer, 19, and Bauer’s grandmother, Margaret Worden, 61. Both lived in Janesville.
His sentencing is scheduled for July 11.

As part of the plea agreement, the prosecution will argue for no more than seven years in prison, said Tavizon’s attorney, Michael Shannon Murphy.

Judge James Daley does not have to follow the recommended sentences, he reminded Tavizon in court Wednesday.

Tavizon on Wednesday carried a paperback novel and wore a silver chain with a silver crucifix over his orange jail jumpsuit.

Bauer died at 2:49 a.m. April 24, 2011, at the intersection of Center Avenue and Racine Street in Janesville. Worden died a few days later at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center, Janesville.
The two had been delivering newspapers.

Tavizon and a passenger were injured in the crash. Tavizon told a nurse he had been drinking tequila in a bar, according to court documents.

He tested positive for consumption of alcohol and marijuana, according to court documents.

Tavizon was hospitalized after the crash but in early May walked away from University Hospital in Madison. He was captured two days later in Janesville.

Dismissed charges include two counts of homicide while driving with a blood-alcohol concentration higher than the legal limit, two counts of homicide by use of a vehicle while using a controlled substance, three counts of causing injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle and two counts of first-degree reckless injury.

Seven years.  Sure, the judge is talking tough and says he doesn't have to follow those guidelines, but really, how much is he gonna get?  How much will get shaved off for time served and good behavior?  If he does five, I'll be surprised.  Look at the smirk on the guy's face in the picture.  Carried a paperback novel into the courtroom.  He's not sorry, he's preoccupied. 

He won.

Oh sure, he's got to be locked away for a couple more years.  If he wants, he can get an education.  He'll have free medical care. 

I'm at a loss for words here, but I won't be for long.

- Jim

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Life throws curveballs every now and then.  They're not easy, they're not fun, and they're usually not pleasant, but they must be dealt with in some shape or fashion.  I'm using more of my time and patience dealing with this set of curveballs than I'm used to though, so I've limited my online social interaction even more.  I nearly quit for a while there, but I'm sure it's unhealthy in its own way.

Still, since I don't want to bring all my troubles online, I will be limiting myself online even further.  Just some fan-based activities, and that will be about it.

I've gotten back into writing though, and I've managed to clear off a decent space with which to work.  It's a work in progress, but it's far better than what I had before.  I just need to keep it up.

- Jim
Save Breaking In:

- Jim

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The basis for the things I do online is evolving.  There are a lot of times I seek to shout out to the internet something inane and meaningless, or even not so meaningless, and then I reconsider.  This blog is on the periphery of those recent changes, but it's not been immune.  I'm not immune to the changes either.  Some of what I might have previously posted on Facebook for example gets posted to my Twitter account, shown down on the lower right, simply because I sometimes still need to reach out.

It's silly, I know. 

I have always been into what I've been into, liked what I liked, and sometimes wanted other people to like what I liked as well.  I've always known that most people didn't share my interests, but it never really dawned on  me how inconsequential my updates were compared to the cacaphony found in social media today.  Too often we fail to listen because we are all shouting, trying to grab ever smaller shares of attention for ourselves.  I used to wonder why that "one guy" would always resort to pratfalls to get attention but failed to realize that the rest of us do the same things, just in different ways.

Maybe I'm just becoming more antisocial.

I'm not judging others, for the most part.  Some people have need of attention, but since I don't, or don't much, I'll leave those actions to them.  I can live without it for the most part.

I'll still be here, in this little space of the internet that I've marked off for myself.  I just won't be elsewhere as much.  I'm not giving up on those areas either, but it's time to limit them to what I've done here. 

- Jim

Friday, April 13, 2012

As most of you have heard, my show, Breaking In has been cancelled - again.  Supposedly Fox will show the unaired episodes eventually, but I'll believe it when I see it.  I'd nearly quit watching it after the second season began, so I suppose I helped contribute to its decline.  Still, I watched the shows, but only after I saved them on my DVR.  It was kinda like going to the dentist.  Ultimately, it was for the greater good, but I was pretty reluctant to experience it.


The last couple episodes of the second season made it all come back.  I'm sorry to see it go.

- Jim

Sunday, April 08, 2012

I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Easter!  I hope you all have a great day.

- Jim

Saturday, April 07, 2012

I think I had an advantage when I first watched Game of Thrones.  I hadn't read the books, so I wasn't as excited about it as I could have been.  I didn't watch the first season until it was over and about to be taken off OnDemand.  After watching the first episode of Season 2, I find I don't like to wait between episodes.  I may decide to skip watching the rest of Season 2 until it's all over.

Aside from that, there seems to be a lot of potential in Season 2, but the episode felt like the first episode of a series - tentative.  Ah well.

- Jim
My Niece was doing pretty well on her medicine and they seemed to control the seizures.  Unfortunately, because of the side effects, she had to change medicines and the seizures started up again.  In an effort to understand what's happening better, the doctors fitted her with a mobile EEG device.  In a medical setting, these things are useful to understand what happens after a seizure, unless you're lucky (or unlucky) enough to one right there.  The information gathered then, is indirectly useful.  They're looking for more useful information now.

Aside, from that, I've been doing what I've been doing.  Mostly reading, but I managed to get some writing in there, almost by accident.

High hopes,

- Jim

Monday, April 02, 2012

So, I posted that article last week.  One of the reasons I did was because it dovetailed with some things I've noticed over the past... month or so. 

A bit of background first, I suppose.  Blah blah life story blah blah, I don't notice things around me very often, and when I do, I tend to notice things rather than people.  Call me weird or whatever, but it's the way I am.  Even I am subject to that restriction - I don't notice me very often either.  Despite what others may sometimes believe, it's not because I hate myself or despise myself, it's just that unless there's something specifically wrong, I just don't care.  It took me years to figure out what my symptoms of allergies were because I just never questioned it, or that I assumed it was something else.  I never asked, no one bothered telling me, and that was that.

It's that way with other people as well.  When I played Magic: The Gathering back in the day, or even when I was playing poker, I was far more interested in my own cards than I was about other people playing.  While other people were reading me, I was eagerly awaiting my next card.  I had fun playing my own game even if other people often got in the way by taking all my money.  Dang people.

So, it probably comes as no surprise that the assumption that I have all the time in the world, combined with the fact that I'm curious about almost everything, meant that sooner or later, I would be inundated with projects that I often call work.  There was no reason to control the intake because, as I said, I have all the time in the world.  I would make deadlines to try and clear stuff out and I would fail miserably.  I'd respond by saying that I needed to work harder.  It was probably true, but it was also unrealistic.

So, recently, I've taken to cutting things out.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), I'm still interested in everything, but I've taken to prioritizing my projects in order to finish some and leave others for later... or never.  Internet debates have been cut, because they're nothing more than a waste of time.  As someone once said, even if you win a debate on the internet, you still lose.  I've cut the political stuff I've been watching, the shows I'm into, the movies I watch, and so on.  It's not perfect, because I won't give up on every political event since I do still want to be an informed voter.  I won't give up on movies entirely either, if nothing else, than to give me something to do during those times when the knee forces me to retreat to my recliner. 

Even posting on here has declined, as you probably have noticed.

It's not perfect - the piles of unread books here bother me more than things that are probably more important elsewhere, so they will still be attended to.  The interests that I have in the news and the research stuff I do for writing is still there.  There's years of things to keep me occupied here, but the piles are shorter.  I've even done some real writing in the past week.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to.  I'll try and post more often here, when I am able.

Good luck,

- Jim

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Uh, first of all... there was another incident with my Niece.  She's fine now, but well... let me start over.  There were LOTS of incidents.  There is an entire spectrum of things that can happen in a seizure and while hers were less uh... intense than my Sister's, they were far more numerous.  I suppose the best that can be said is that she had one while she was operating in an official capacity and those in charge of such medical support there finally decided to take the matter more seriously. 

I'm being diplomatic and somewhat mysterious on purpose.  I don't know the whole story and while what I know had made me a bit angry, I don't know how upset I really should be or even who exactly I should be upset at.  The ways of neurology and neuroscience are strange and mysterious and it's often hard to get a complete handle on things, especially from a thousand miles away...  Or however far away it is.  It's a lot.

Still, she's getting more attention.  She seems to be in good hands now, and she's got family and friends to support her.  This is about the best possible scenario at the moment.  As far as a solution goes, they still don't know much.  High hopes.  High hopes.

For that reason, I have been spending more time online than usual.  It's the easiest way to get information on such things.  I've been spending the downtime debating various things in various venues with variable success.  I'm not made for such things.  Maybe I am, but after a while they just annoy me.  It's time to step back, take a break, and give up such nonsense.  I will still check for updates, of course, but I will be spending the downtime between updates doing more productive things.

- Jim

Monday, March 26, 2012

Two posts in one day!  First of all, I cut and paste these things in their entirety because while the internet may be eternal, the stuff in it certainly isn't.  Anyway, this article has been stolen from CNN and copied and pasted.  I've left attribution to both CNN and the author in place.  Aside from some minor formatting, this article has been unchanged.

Is fear of failure holding you back? -
By Robert Kelsey , Special to CNN

Is fear of failure holding you back?
Fear of failure can stop you reaching your potential, says Robert Kelsey. Editor's note: Robert Kelsey is the bestselling author of "What's Stopping You? Why Smart People Don't Always Reach Their Potential and How You Can."

(CNN) -- Why was it that, while others in your class were happy to study law or go into finance, you wanted to be a popstar? Or maybe you were the rebel: an unruly and disruptive influence the teachers disliked. That said, you could have been the procrastinator -- somehow never getting started -- or the dreamy idler living in an invented parallel universe.

Their commonality? All are signs you are a High-FF: someone with a high fear of failure as I call them in "What's Stopping You?" my book on understanding, accepting and navigating the insecurities that drive career failure.
Fear of failure was first uncovered in the 1960s by psychologists such as John Atkinson. Working at Stanford University, Atkinson conducted a series of experiments on children -- setting them reward-based tasks in order to test their motivation.

He noticed they divided into two camps: those focused on winning the reward, who approached the task with what he called a "need for achievement," and those focused on their seemingly inevitable failure, who had what Atkinson termed a "fear of failure" based on their desire to avoid the public humiliation of failure. 

In one experiment the children played a game of hoop-the-peg, with greater rewards offered for greater distances.  The "need for achievement" kids stood a challenging but realistic distance from the peg -- adding concentration if they failed. Those with fear of failure, meanwhile, stood either right on top of the peg or so far back that failure was almost certain.

Of course, those choosing the impossible distance effectively disguised their fear of failure, not least because everyone failed at such a distance. Yet that was the better response. Many of the fear of failure kids became disruptive -- intonating that they didn't care for the game with some even trying to halt the entire process.
Norman Feather (an Australian psychologist) undertook similar experiments and came to similar conclusions,
although also found he could manipulate the response by telling the children the task was "very difficult." This encouraged the High-FF kids to continue -- the humiliation of failure having been lowered. And 1970s experiments by Carol Dweck and Ellen Leggett concluded that children were either "mastery oriented," meaning they were focused on acquiring new skills (and were unconcerned by temporary setbacks), or "ego oriented," which meant their main concern was to not lose face.

The impact of fear of failure 
From here, it's easy to see how such a divide can impact our career progression: indeed, our entire lives. High-FFs keep their ambitions either low or -- as a mask for their insecurities -- extraordinarily high (knowing that failing to become a TV star will be kindly judged). It's the challenging but achievable career choices (such as joining the professions) that are avoided by High-FFs.

So is there a way out? Not from our fears. Mainstream psychologists deride those -- such as hypnotists and acupuncturists -- that claim they can instantly cure our fears and phobias, stating they simply inject alien personality traits into us. These will eventually be revealed as such, producing an inevitable reckoning. Yet we can learn to accept our fears as part of us, and then navigate their destructive consequences.

To do this, however, we need a plan. So here are my seven steps to overcoming (but not curing) fear of failure.
1. Discover your true values. If those popstar goals are a mask you'll need to go back to square one and calculate what really motivates you. This requires you to establish the values and principles that underline your existence. It's these that should drive your goal setting, not your insecurities.
2. Establish your goals. With your values written down, visualise yourself 10-years' hence. Every detail should be imagined: house, car, partner, office, dog (or cat). Importantly, also focus on the details of your career. What will you do day-to-day, where and with whom? Then ensure it dovetails with your values -- otherwise it will almost certainly fail.
3. Work out the milestones. The 10-year horizon is long-enough to make anything possible: including professional exams. Yet you have to ensure the path you take is the right one. So visualize yourself in five years' time. What has to be in place to ensure the 10-year goals are achievable? Then do the same for two years -- thinking about the needs for the five-year horizon. Then one year. Then six months. Then three months, one month and one week. And what can you do tomorrow to make sure the one-week goal is conquered?
4. Develop a strategy and tactics. Of course, goals fail without strong execution, while "busyness" can lead us in the wrong direction. We need a strategy -- a plan that ensures our actions lead us towards our objectives. So undertake a SWOT analysis: looking at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. This should help a strategy emerge because we can execute tactics on our strengths while developing skills to overcome our weaknesses. Meanwhile, we can pursue the opportunities (if goal-focused) and plan to navigate the threats.
5. Execute efficiently. According to Stephen Covey, all activities fall into four boxes: urgent and important, urgent and unimportant, not urgent and important, and not urgent and unimportant. We spend our time on urgent-box activities neglecting the not-urgent-and-important box that is vital for achieving our long-term goals. Yet if we start here, our activities become driven by our goals allowing us to control urgent-and-unimportant activities (otherwise called interruptions) and potentially reframing our not-urgent-and-unimportant activities as refreshing moments where we can enjoy our progress.
6. Deal with people. For High-FFs, other people are a problem. Too often, we become reactive and defensive, or potentially manipulated by people leveraging off our insecurities. Yet dealing with difficult people is possible once we have "developed our compassion" -- i.e. we've stopped seeing the world from our own perspective and, instead, seen it from theirs. If done genuinely, we can then forge win-win strategies that turn potential enemies and barriers to our progress into allies that can help us achieve our goals.
7. Find your unique gift. Still struggling? Just maybe you haven't found your unique gift. Everyone has a specialtalent or insight that they should first discover and then offer to others. Mine was a curiosity regarding my condition(as a High-FF) and a background in writing. I combined the two to write "What's Stopping You?" What's yours?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Robert Kelsey.
© 2012 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I don't know that I agree with all that's written, but it certainly is something that I should be thinking about.  I know that there are consequences for my plans for partial success that are worse than complete failure.  To date, rather conveniently, I've done nothing.  Well, not nothing, but close to it.  I've accomplished nothing.  It's not quite the same thing, I suppose, but it's functionally the same thing.  Worse, I've concentrated on things that ultimately have no value to the larger goals at hand. 

I'm not saying all that reading and research aren't noble goals.  Some of it was not only necessary, but has made me a better writer.  It's also made me a better typist.  It's been a while, but I can't count the number of times that I've been in a good writing mode and given up because I was frustrated that the ideas would come faster than I could record them.  It's one of the reasons I don't write in longhand as often as I used to.  Yeah, paper is still more convenient sometimes, and I do still take some notes in that fashion, but typing is faster for me.

Finally, I believe that everything happens for a reason.  I was going through similar thoughts for the past several days and I don't know that it's a complete coincidence that I find this article now. 

- Jim