Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How do you say Huh in Russian?

Every once in awhile I have to say "Huh?" when I look at the keywords and traffic drivers to one of my sites. For instance, looking at the top five referring sites for December for the Bast Temple lodge website, I discovered that number five referrer was a Russian site. I believe based on the homepage that it is actually a video game site, but I am not sure---I do not read Russian.

I have no idea why I would be getting traffic from such a site. Does anyone know how to say "Huh" in Russian?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Confused about what I need to disclose

Despite several hours of research (trying to understand) on the FTC change in the disclosure laws, I am still no closer to actually knowing if I need to disclose the fact that I belong to an esoteric Order when doing my occult book reviews.

If I understand the law change correctly, most of my stuff would fall under CMP. ly 0 classification, and my involvement in an esoteric Order does not have to be disclosed at all.

The only disclosures required are if I was given a copy of the book I was reviewing, or got paid by the author or publisher to do the review, or owned stock in the publishing house. The change in the disclosure laws seem to be concerned only with material gain and interest.

(For those who do not know, recently I was accused by David Griffin, the head of an esoteric Order that resorted to the use of lawyers to try to put other Orders out of business, of creating politically motivated book reviews. Supposely if you do not agree with the opinions of his membership's opinions about a book, you are guilty of political warfare. There was also the fact that I did not think his own book was the best thing since white bread---and the fact that his Order was bragging about his book selling for a thousand dollars on the used market is not an acceptable reason to do a new review of an out-of-print book.)

I asked the administration and writers on Helium if they knew the answer. I really would like to know before the first of the year, considering I am going to be making my full disclosure statement live then (I am still twiddling with it). As for Associated Content, they seem happy with compliance with the CMP. ly system.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Been working on my full disclosure statement

Over the last few days, I have been working on my full disclosure statement, or what is going to pass for a full disclosure statement in my universe.

I have been avoiding cobbling it together for awhile. I understand why the government wants to see bloggers and the new media to have one, but I also think that they vastly underestimate the intelligence of the average interent reader. I think that most readers can spot the paid advertisements.

The reason that I am cobbling mine at this point is that I have been accused of creating book reviews to match the "politics" of the esoteric Orders that I belong to. I think that is just an excuse to disguise the fact that this person does not want any voices talking about Golden Dawn unless they control what is being said. Those who know me realize that if I suspect that you are trying to control the media, then I get a little annoyed with you.

The interesting part, or at least the part that is making the writing of my full disclosure statement hard, is that I know that any disclosure that does not scream "I am so biased that I should be kicked out of the union" is going to be viewed as an outright lie. There is also the fact that the more I work on it, the more stuff that I am having to include, and the more off-the-wall it gets.

Yesterday, my current critic took me to task because I used "they" in a statement, and I did not cite something. Only one of those facts is the truth; the other will be changed as soon as this person realizes that I did actually cite my source. (That is one of the joys of dealing with this person; they go back and rewrite their stuff to make it look like they knew the entire time the shortcomings of their arguments...I pdf a lot of this person's stuff just to remind myself what the original statements said.)

Here is the copying of my own words that he did:

And I would like to point out that Nineveh Shadrach implied that they want us to construct this square. "Count yourself fortunate [to know about the Qaf square], but this fortune is merely a potential. It can only really become a full reality in your life, if you create the magic square and release its power" (xii). Why say this if they did not want us to actually do it?

Now, I will admit that I am guilty of misusing the word "they"...sort-of. I may or may not have been taken to task by a literature or journalism teacher for using "they" instead of "he" here.

Personally, I think it is clear that Shadrach is "they." I am not so sure that it is clear that I wasn't completely sure if Ninevah was a "he" or a "she," so I defaulted to a neutral term.

(We really need better neutral terms in English.)

The other accusation was that I did not cite the page number of the quote I used. Huh? I guess that my critic does not know the MLA rules because the page number is obvious (the 12th page of the introduction; yes, the publisher uses roman numerals here). So I had to put all the various citation styles that I occasionally use in my disclosure statement.

Unfortunately, the biggest problem that they are going to have with my disclosure statement, other than the fact that I am positive that my crimes are completely different than what I am being accused of (it is not politics that drive my writing, it is Google Lust), is going to be the fact that I treated my full disclosure statement like a joke. But it is the only way I was going to tolerate writing it, and my regular readers are going to be able to tolerate reading it.

*sigh* It is times like this that I find myself wondering why I thought my choice of profession was a really good idea.

Quote of the day: Arnold Lobel

Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.

- Arnold Lobel

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I am an expert in what?!

It is said that if you plan on making your living as a writer that you need to specialize. Specialization makes your life easier, for you can more rapidly hack out articles.

I will admit that I am occasionally surprised at some of the specialities that I am developing. At the beginning of the fall semester, I wrote an article about Amendment 50 (Casinos) and the projected funding that the community colleges of Colorado could expect from this particular law change. I have also wrote articles on the Colorado Lottery.

And I just voluteered to do a follow-up to the Amendment 50 revenue article. My reasoning for voluteering is that I already have the websites bookmarked, therefore I just as well write the article.

So why does this speciality surprise me?

Well, I do not gamble. I am writing about Blackhawk, and have never stepped foot in a casino up there. Even if I did not have a travel issue (remember moving vehicles cause terrible migraines for me), I am not sure that I would go. After all, do I really want to find out if I am prone to a gambling addiction (something that I suspect my aunt had).

There is also the fact that if I am going to place my money at risk, I would rather place it in an investment instead. The stock market: that is real gambling.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Impossible Reply

Over the years, some of the hardest writing that I had to do has turned out to be personal, rather than monetary and creative oriented work. Heck, there are times personal writing is even harder than academic writing. I was reminded of this fact today when I recieved a holiday card from my sister.

When I saw the return address on the envelope, I sighed. Yesterday, I recieved a Christmas card from one of my brothers. My prompt response was that he had obviously not recieved the memo that I was...well, not worthy of inclusion in the family. So it was a big surprise to recieve a card from my sister, who should have sent out the memo.

The regular readers of my blog will understand why sending a response to her is going to be hard. This sister is the one that I finally figured out why she was a toxic writing friend early this fall. And one of the things that she told me is that she never wants me to talk about college, my writing, and Golden Dawn ever again.

Hmmm...I have no idea what I am supposed to write to her about. I guess she will have to settle for a thank you, and possibly a question about how everyone is. Because I have nothing else that I can say. *sigh*

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Solistice!

I took the day off from writing today. I spent it sending people season's greetings and trying to catch up with everybody's facebook page. That is one of the advantages of self-employment: you can take the day off to be human.

To all my blog readers:

Happy Solistice! May the coming year bring you Health, Wealth and Love!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My clout level at AC went up

Today, I checked my stats at Associated Content, and saw that my clout level went up from six to seven since yesterday. I did not realize that I was so close to the edge. Sometimes surprises are pleasant.

And seven is the magical level where my PPM payment starts to earn a bonus. It is not a big bonus, but I will take that shiny nickel anyways.

I have noticed that my daily pageviews on average have gone up. Plus I got a little spike in views the couple of days that David Griffin was complaining about my review of his book, The Ritual Magic Manual.

(For those who are unaware, he thinks that I gave him a bad book review because of political reasons [I belong to an evil occult conspiracy, he says {more or less}]; I just do not believe that his book should be selling for a thousand dollars on the used book market...though I have yet to see evidence that it is actually being sold at that price [we all know that there is a difference between the asking price and the price something actually goes for]. Though it is pretty much a non-issue now, I have recently saw a complete pdf of his book; I doubt that the value of his book will remain so high now.)

*Gee, that is an awkward looking group of sentences, isn't it?*

But I think that the spike in pageviews were minor (it really wasn't that large...hmmm, I guess people really do not care what he thinks). More important I think for getting me up an additional clout level is that I have been putting up more articles on Associated Content, and not just occult articles.

My latest was an article I wrote for Campus Connections back in August about Amendment 50 and what effect it might have on community college funding.

So here to me making progress as a writer. That nickel PPM may not sound like much, but it beats the moths that are currently inhabiting my bank account.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Kicking around the astrology column

Well, I just posted the last astrology column of the semester up on Associated Content. Normally, I would wait until the next issue comes out before even considering doing this; but given the fact that it was about New Year's resolutions, and I seriously doubt that a lot of students are still on campus to read the issue, I decided to post it up early.

This is actually the first column from the new improved format that I put online. The big difference that one can see online is that I have quit doing the introduction, and am now just focusing on describing the signs and their behavior. The other two changes were to the way it was printed in the physical version of the newspaper: the name of the column changed from "Crystal Ball" to "Sun Wisdom", and the bad mugshot printed behind the column was replaced by a simple astro-wheel without any words printed over it (both of these problems were a non-issue on the web).

(I still have four more columns to post online, but I want to space out their posting a little for web traffic purposes.)

Now, it is time for me to kick around what my next column is going to be about. And the deadline is rapidly approaching (just over a week away).

When I volunteered to do the astrology column, I did not realize that it was going to take two weeks to come up with an idea for the column, and only a few hours to actually write it. I thought it would be the other way around; ideas coming quickly, and the actual writing being the bog that would slow me down.

Turns out that it is actually harder work to come up with the ideas (due to the audience and issue frequency) than it is to write the column itself. I will admit that I am still a little slow at writing the column itself; my knowledge of astrology was not as deep as I thought it was. But the column is helping improve my knowledge of astrology.

Now if I could only come up with ideas for the column faster. I would be in so much trouble if they decided to publish more often than once every three weeks.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Inspiration from Anne Rice

Today is one of those low self-esteem days. I dread them because they tend to be counter-productive. For instance, I messaged someone back today that I could not imagine them publishing any article of mine---this is after they said that they would like me to consider writing something for them. *sigh* And I already treated a couple of compliments as if the speakers were merely humoring me.

So I really needed this bit of inspiration. It is from Anne Rice; she has a fanpage on Facebook.

All aspiring writers out there: know that we need you, we need your voice, your vision, your stories. Be brave. Go where the pain is; go where the pleasure is. Seek to create in words the world in which you long to live.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Beginning the spring campaign

It is that time of year again, that moment when we are all deciding what we are going to accomplish in the upcoming year. For me, it is the start of my spring writing campaign.

I started doing an annual writing campaign almost two decades ago. The restaurant I was working at, not being close to a mall, would suffer a drop in sales around the holidays. There was also the advent of the secular new year to remind oneself that one was wasting one's time flipping burgers.

So I started to jot down ideas, volunteer to take off early, and doing more writing in a month than I did the entire year...it became an annual event for me. Especially after I started to make a little money writing. Every year was "This is the year, I am going to make the big break and get the hades out of here."

After I realized that it was unlikely to happen, switched jobs, and decided that I still liked writing better than my day job (ended up being a restaurant manager), I still indulged in the new year writing campaign.

There have been some changes in the way I conduct it over the years. As I have made more money over the years, it has surfaced in my mind earlier.

For awhile, it started as soon as I hit my net plus thirty cutoff point: that point in the business year where you know that nothing that you are working on now will earn you a dime until after the New Year. One of the hazards of being self-employed is that the earliest you might recieve money for the work you do today is thirty days after the end of the current calendar month.

In recent years, my campaign has rotated around my college and university schedules. I cannot start the campaign until I have died on the sofa for a couple of days after I take my last final exam and turned in the last paper for the semester. If I am unable to type a single sentence without making a spelling mistake, it is probably too soon to start the campaign.

My work at Campus Connection (the student newspaper for the Community College of Denver) have also affected my campaign. Some of the work that I am going to be doing this month is meant for them...all writers change their agendas based on who they can get to pay them. I also will spend time this month uploading articles that I have done in the past semester to one of the pageview sites.

(I will admit that I thought that I had all my astrology articles up from last year, leaving just three articles from last year left---articles that I am not sure I want anyone to see ever again; but I was wrong. I found a lonely sun sign astrology article about evil twins and our negative astrological traits lurking on the hard drive of my computer, and I had to upload it to AC today. Tomorrow, I will probably start uploading this past semester's articles; it will be interesting to see the stats for the new format compared to the old format of the previous year's.)

But I think that the most important changes to my new year campaign is that I have several mini-campaigns, and I am no longer focused on the big breakout.

The mini-campaigns are the results of doing both online content and the college newspaper work, as well as suffering the university schedule. I find it easier to look ahead and plan articles that will be interesting in the months, and sometimes years ahead.

Another reason for the mini-campaigns is that I am no longer trying to create a big break for myself. My most reliable income sources are small monthly jobs. A little income from this source and a little from that source adds up. I am a far ways from making a comfortable income, but I know I can get there, given enough time and content.

Earlier this year, my sister (who is one of my toxic writing friends) told me that I will never be a "great writer"; it did not bug me all that much to be told that---I have ceased to aim for that several years ago, and I am working hard to be a regularly employed hack instead. (What disturbed me was that she considered my entire life a waste, not just my writing.)

So I am not planning on writing a great short story over the next month; instead I am focusing on articles that will generate income---short, sweet articles. Here is to my spring campaign (it is when I will start recieving payment for this month's work), and here is to yours. Tally-Ho!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It is the ideas that count, not my English!

It amuses me the number of individuals I get to interact with that believe that they should be judged solely on their ideas and creativity, and that it does not matter how badly they string a sentence together. And I really want to locate this fantasy world that they inhabit where editors and readers are willing to struggle with a piece of writing to get at the meat of the ideas. It sounds like a marvelous place to visit, though I doubt that my Virgo sun would be happy there for long.

I first became painfully aware of this belief when dealing with one of my toxic writing friends (you know the type---they are your friend, but you do not dare talk about writing around them if you want to get anything written in the next month, aka wet blankets).

My friend had done a draft of a novel, and he wanted my opinion of it. After ten minutes of reading, I had finally moved onto the second page of the manuscript. Yes, I said ten minutes to hack my way though the first page.

Now if this manuscript had been on the slush pile, it would have gotten the form rejection slip on the first page, first paragraph, perhaps even first sentence. Before I could even address the ideas in the script, I had to give him feedback about how to write a proper sentence.

And what he told me was that it was unfair that he would be judged on solely on the basis of his ability to write a clear sentence; all he needed was an editor who was willing to work with him; his ideas were worth the effort.

Nice fantasy world, I told him. He ignored me; he does not believe that my writing and editing experience qualifies me to have an opinion. I seriously doubt that he would listen Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, or anyone else for that matter, if they told him the same thing.

The reason I have been thinking about this is that recently I gave someone feedback about their blog, and got told that they were more concerned with ideas than learning how to present their information in a reader-friendly format. Blog T (not its actual name, sorry to whoever is actually writing Blog T) has many attributes that are going to make me talk about it often; it will serve us well as an example of what not to do.

The writer may think that it should be only their ideas that should matter; but given the habits of readers, they are dead wrong. I wish them luck in actually finding the fantasy world they think exists, where readers and editors are willing to work at reading something and do not run off to better sites at the drop of a comma splice.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Murphy's computer

I have suffered a rash of computer problems lately. And not just here at home either. It has not helped the writing at all (I turned in one article close to a week late).

The primary computer problem with the desktop computer is that it is a dinosaur. Combine that with my wife's impatience and it is not a good combination. If there were not things that we could only do with it, I would be attempted to smash it with a very large hammer.

What surprised me was the problems I had with accessing the internet from a friend's house. I was babysitting her daughter all weekend while she was taking reflexology classes. In the end, I just gave up trying to access the internet.

Computers---Can not be a modern writer without them, can not be sane writer with them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Getting closer to the semester's finish line

Turned in the first of several rewrites I have to do this semester. Started with the last paper done, but easiest to fix (or at least, I think it is going to be the one that turns out that way). Only four more rewrites to go...unless this one comes flying back at me.

And at this point, if I die suddenly and complete no more work, I have an A- in Chemistry for the Consumer. I should be able to get all the way into a solid A, but it might be tight.

Plus thankfully, the editor of the student newspaper gave everyone a couple extra days to complete our articles. I will admit that I placed a rewrite in front of my newspaper commitment.

The semester is winding down...the finish line looks like it is a mile away.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Summer vacation

Last night, my wife came home and said that she needed my opinion on something. For those who know my wife, you know what her asking me for my opinion means. She has this funny habit of asking me what I think she should do when she has already decided what she wants to do. Often, I just step aside and let her have at it; as long as she is not going to get seriously hurt why attempt to stop her?

Turns out that she has a chance to go on a trip this summer to Costa Rica, and learn some Spanish in an immersion environment. And I say good for her. We have no kids, just Secret Chiefs (aka the cats), and I could use a couple of weeks of peace and quiet to write this summer.

I know that there are some people who are just going to be appalled by the fact that I let my wife do whatever she wants. Honestly, why should I attempt to control her life? Some of these people believe that I am mooching off of her. I think that they are forgetting the fact that I am taking out student loans to pay my half of the bills (or as much as I can pay with the little bit that I am actually getting).

Be lets be real here. I let her do what she wants to do because she is happier when she has a goal to pursue. And she lets me pursue my weird goals; heck, she is the one that encouraged me to go to college when I suddenly become forty and unemployed (ok, part of that was expected).

And in this case, I could use the vacation too. Two weeks, perhaps three weeks, of noninterrupted writing sounds like a good summer to me.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Meeting for rewrites

Wednesday, I did my mandatory meeting with Professor Jeff Franklin concerning rewriting one of my papers. It was less painful than I thought it would be. I had put this off as long as I could. I would not say that it is against my religion to do rewrites...but I really dislike the process. Perhaps even loathe it.

Which is why I almost burst into flames when I learned at the beginning of the semester that twenty percent of my grade in Gothic Literature was tied up in a rewrite...as in I am required to actually rewrite one of the papers I turned in if I wanted any chance to get a decent grade in that class. My Colorado History also requires a rewrite, though it is more of a rough draft for that one.

Rewrites are not necessarily bad. There are times that they are needed. This semester, particularly.

I have the voice of a toxic writing friend and toxic writing enemy echoing in my head still from the beginning of the semester. (The difference between a TWF and a TWE is that the friend actually cares about you, the enemy is just a nasty piece of work wanting to see you crash and burn.) The sad part is that they are both relatives (interesting family I have: none of us are happy unless everyone else is miserable). Basically, I am wasting my time as a writer (I do not think that they got the memo that I am actually a hack), as an astrologer and occultist, and as a college student (the note that they gave me that I am wrong to pursue a career as a teacher was just silly---obviously they do not realize that is more my wife's idea than mine).

So periodically, this semester I would be working on an assignment, or sitting in class, and wonder why I was bothering to even try. I turned in some pretty bad work this semester. Just surviving the semester will be a major accomplishment with some of the low days I had lately. Essentially, everything I have written this semester needs whacking with a rubber mallet to bring it up to even my low hack standards, not alone something that looks like it was actually written by an university student.

As much as I do not want to, now I need to click "publish post" and get to the rewriting. The gnashing of teeth and the rending of garments you hear will be me bemoaning the fact that life as a writer is harsh, and Thoth and Seshet are just being mean to me today.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Only 3026 words so far, many more to go

Well, I have only done 3,026 words so far for NaNoWriMo. I should be almost at twelve thousand words (11,669 to be exact) at the end of the day if I was on schedule. Basically I have written six nights for a little while each day, and have only accomplished like two days worth (a touch short actually from even that short goal of 3,334 words).

It is enourgh to drive home the point that I might not even be capable of being a hack. But then again, I had homework, newspaper articles and finished off reading Dracula. I might not be a great writer, but even on a busy week I hacked out three thousand words. I guess that is something to smile about.

In the old days, we used to travel by couch and buggy, or maybe horse and buggy, horses, boat, or just on foot. There are some that believe that we used to (and still do) travel by fairy circle, stone hedges and by flying around on broomsticks. The latter has always puzzled me. Why would anyone trust their existence to a slender piece of wood with straw tied to the end? I do not care how strong of a candle you light, the rarity of the feathers that you tie onto it, or the awesome power of your charms; it is still just a stick being held up by the power of positive thinking. I will stick with mechanical means of travel, thank you no. Then again, given the security line and the reliability of pilots nowadays, going to a broom closet and selecting your own means of travel might be preferable if it wasn’t for the exhaustion that making a broom fly would result in.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow Days 2009

The last couple of days, I have been snowed in. Oh, I could have gotten someplace if I really wanted to, but I am finding that as I grown older that the urge to brave the weather lessens every year.

I have discovered that you can tell a lot by how someone spends a snow day. In my case, I napped a lot. My wife, Toni, spent the day napping also (she thought she was coming down with some bug).

I could have spent it working, but my heart was not into it. The same goes for homework. I am still having days when I hear my sister's opinion of my entire life in my head (basically, she thinks that I am doing everything wrong and generally wasting my time while leeching off of others).

It is for that fact that I really do not feel guilty about not accomplishing anything on these snow days; after all, I am not expected to. There is also the little fact that I am doing National Novel Writing Month starting on November 1st. I figure that considering that I am going to be attempting to write 50,000 words in thirty days, plus do everything else that I need to do in November, that a couple of naps while being snowed in are not the end of the world. In fact, I might actually earn them next month.

Early warning---most of my posts that I do in November are going to read: Day X of NaNoWriMo, Y words done, Z words to go.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Buying office supplies

Today, I was at Office Depot buying office supplies.

The errands originally started out just as a Petsmart run, must fed the kitties, and ended up being the typical half-dozen stores run that my wife and I normally engage in. It takes up the entire Saturday and leaves every little room to get anything else done.

Anyway, I realized that I am weird when it comes to buying office supplies. Now Toni was fading fast, due to her fibromyalgia. And there I was really proud of myself because I found the last bonus box of HP paper; it had an extra two reams of paper for free.

Of course, if you know what a ream of paper is without looking it up, we may have to talk about your office supply problem next.

So getting free paper made me happy, as did having a Worklife Reward…forty dollars worth, which says a lot about how much office supplies I buy on a regular basis.

What type of person becomes happy because they are getting free office supplies? Especially when it turns out to be a box of printer paper?

The really scary part is that I suspect that out there someplace in the world, there is someone else who will understand what I am saying.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Do you really want to use that word?

As a writer, I tend to be amused by language. Today I recieved one of those notorious Nigera emails (though this one claims to be out of Hong Kong), and I just had to laugh at one of the words used. Here is the sentence:

I want to consumate a legitimate transaction of Thirty-Eight million Five Hundred and Ninety One Thousand Five Hundred and Ninety Five United State Dollars.

Consumate? Is it just me, or does that word conjure the wrong image for what this person is trying to convey? That word actually says what the sender of the message wants to do to the reciever of the message, and I am sure that the sender did not want to make it that clear.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

NaNoWriMo is approaching fast

National Novel Writing Month (NaNiWriMo), which takes place in November, is fast approaching. And I am so not ready for it.

I have yet to slip over to the NaNoWriMo website and register for this year. I have yet to figure out my plot, or even what type of novel I am aiming for this year. I have yet to choose my inspirational/plot suggestion/grammar checking book. And I have yet to attempt to get ahead on my college homework to attempt to make any of this happen.

A large part of delay is the fact that my sister's voice is still ringing loudly in my head. There is nothing like being told by your favorite relative that you are wasting your time pursuing writing, a college education, and your career to take the winds out of your sails...except maybe a bullet though the heart.

Ironically, this may actually be the best chance I have to actually hack out 50,000 words in the space of thirty days. Revenge and proving people wrong is a big motivator in my family.

I guess we will see at the end of November if she did me a favor or not.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Quote of the day: Renard on literature

Literature is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to people who have none.
Jules Renard
1864-1910

Friday, October 9, 2009

Overheard at Best Buy

Last weekend, my wife and I dropped her laptop off at Bestbuy. We brought it at the beginning of the semester, and it has been useless sonce we brought it.

When we first brought it, we listened to the salesperson and brought a different anti-virus than Norton. And we had them optimized the two laptops (I also got one for business and school purposes; sharing the desktop computer is just too much of a pain).

Then we went home, and I unstalled Norton (which is bundled on every computer sold nowdays, or so it seems). It came out very easily. Then I installed the other anti-virus software (Trend Micro if you are curious) and Word 2007.

Then there was the standard Windows updates...one of which ended up in the blue screen of death on Toni's computer. So we ended taking her computer back to Bestbuy to have them fix that.

After getting it back (with them having to roll back the computer), all of a sudden, I could not get Norton to uninstall. And I spent hours trying to get it off the computer. So again back to Bestbuy, where I overheard a nerd say to another nerd (or whatever they are---maybe geeks) that the Norton removal tool was on the Malware disk.

Bestbuy calls Norton Malware.

Of course, after fighting with it that long, and remembering the night that I had my computer (the desktop) remote controlled from India (I think that the Norton service technician was in India) when we updated the Norton Internet Security, I understand the label.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Quote of the day: Dahlberg on motives for writing

Those who write for lucre or fame are grosser than the cartel robbers, for they steal the genius of the people, which is its will to resist evil.
Edward Dahling
1900-1977
American Author and Critic

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Silly summary of Isaiah 6:1-9

Silly summary of Isaiah 6.1-9, another bit from the Adopt a Prophet and make a facebook page for them assignment for Biblical Literature class.

Death: King Uzziah is dead.

God: I am sitting in my throne room.

Seraphim: We are also in the throne room.

Isaiah: Sorry, I did not know anyone was in here.

Seraphim: Holy, holy, holy is HaShem, Master of Legions; the whole world is filled with his glory.

Isaiah: Woe is me, for I am doomed: for I am a man of impure lips and I dwell among a people with impure lips, for my eyes have seen the King, HaShem, Master of Legions.”

Seraphim: Behold, this coal has touched your lips; your iniquity has gone away and your sin shall be atoned for.

God: Whom shall I send, and who shall go for us?

Isaiah: Here I am! Send me!

God: Good, a volunteer.

Seraphim: It is a good thing that he volunteered; we are all out of burning bushes.

God: Say to the people---

Isaiah: What people?

God: ---Surely, you hear, but you do not comprehend; and surely you see, but you fail to understand.

Isaiah: Oh! Those people!

God: This people is fattening its heart, hardening its ears, and sealing its eyes, lest it see with its eyes, hear with its ears, and understand with its heart, so that it will repent and be healed.

Obama: We need to reform health care and education.

God: Who are you?

Obama: I am the chosen instrument of change.

Isaiah: I thought I was.

God: You are.

Isaiah: Who is?

Obama: Who is?

Seraphim: There should be a law against parodies like this.

Goofy summary of Isaish 1:10-20

Goofy summary of Isaiah 1.10-20 that was done for the Adopt a Prophet and create a facebook page for them project (for the Bible as Literature class):
(MDE: I actually made a mistake here; it was actually the Chiefs of Sodom and the people of Gomorrah being addressed here. But someplace in my mind, these two people belong to Israel.)

God to Israel: Why do I need your numerous sacrifices?

Israel to God: Have another ox!

God to Israel: It is the incense of abomination to me!

Israel to God: Have another meal offering!

God to Israel: I am FULL!

Israel to God: New moon! Time for another ox!

God to Israel: Another empty sacrifice. Why can’t you just live ethically? And quit sending me Happy Meals!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ruickbie v. Moonstone copyright dispute

Here are the facts:

Leo Ruickbie, Ph.D. included Origins of Halloween (and possibly other articles) by Rowan Moonstone in his Samhain Sabbat; this material was included in the Riders of the Crystal Wind Book of Shadows (a non-profit gift to the pagan community). He has also copied material from Dorothy Morrison, Joe Berthancourt, Leighanne Hussey and the OTO (or so Moonstone's allegiation claims).

His defense is that the work was in the public domain despite the authors' copyright notice (1989), and that his inclusion of the material in a for-profit work was permissible under fair use.

Rowan Moonstone said:

Please be advised that any inclusion of anything written by Rowan Moonstone in any work edited, written or distributed by Dr. Leo Ruickbie is not authorized. I have expressly forbidden him from using anything that I have ever written, or will write in the future, in any of his works now and in the future---Rowan Moonstone (October 2009).

Ruikbie has removed Samhain Sabbat from sale before a single copy was sold. There was some communication between the two parties, then communications broke down. As always in a situation like this, there are conflicting stories about what really was said by whom.

We do know that Ruickbie advised Morgan Drake Eckstein that he could be sued, claiming that by publishing the original statement of Rowan Moonstone that MDE has became the publisher of said statement and therefore liable to legal action himself (supposely for libel, slander and hate mongering). MDE considered using freedom of the press as his defense.

Instead MDE took down the original post by Moonstone, and substituted this one. These are the facts...therefore draw your own conclusions about the people involved.

Edited yet again on 6 October 09---any day now we are going to end up with a post about the curse of people trying to control the new media.

Thinking about my NaNoWriMo plot

Yesterday, I was visiting the local Denver support site for National Novel Writing Month (can you write 50,000 words in a month?!) and hit the plot me button. Got this for a plot.

While traveling to Timbuktu via pack mule, a man with horns lives in a dungeon creating shadow puppets.

It is probably as good as any plot that I am going to walk into NaNoWriMo with. So far, in the past, I have tried Maritian colony murder mystery, and fairy tales gone wrong.

Then again, I may not even need a plot. Last year, I ended up dropping out early in the month as term papers took me out. We will see about this year.

Of course, this year I have the additional handicap of my sister's voice ringing in my ears; basically, she exploded at me for being a selfish b******, and told me that I will never be a writer. There were a lot of other stuff said...needless to say, I still feel an urge to stuck her head in a toliet.

Anyway, it is just 27 days and 12 hours until the writing frenzy begins. Are you ready?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Quote of the day: Myself on writing goals

The other day, I was writing a letter to a friend, and the truth about my writing goals came out. It is enough to make any writer with literary ambitions to spin like a top.

My goal is not to be a writer; my goal is to be a hack. I want to write "trash" and "nonsense" (as many people consider my chosen subjects), and mysteriously make a living while doing it. Nothing that I have ever written, and got paid upfront for (or shortly thereafter) will ever be considered great writing.

In other words, don't plan on me making my way into the literary magazines or the ranks of the classical writers (the ones that everybody must read in college literature) anytime soon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Arrgghhh! Facebook bites!

I am not good at self-promotion; but when I try to self-promote, I would like websites to work. Unfortunately, Facebook is not playing nice at the moment.

I just posted the last scan of the 2000 color scale and Vault study to my Golden Dawn blog. While attempting to post a link to it on Facebook, I kept getting a line error (as if I can fix the website).

Sadness, and a possible omen that the god(dess)s(es) do not want me to practice self-promotion.

Then again, maybe it is just a hint that the color study was not worth sharing (it was the first one that was done for Bast Temple).

Either way, it makes me feel annoyed. I hate doing self-promotion; so when I do try, I want it to work effortlessly. *sigh*

Friday, September 18, 2009

Claiming my blogs---Technorati ranks

I slipped over to Technorati today, and realized that I still had some blogs unclaimed. And some of them are blogs I occasionally think about updating. So I put in my claim form for them.

(I do not claim my blogs on MySpace [which I no longer upadate] or on LiveJournal; they are wastelands as far as I am concerned. Same goes for my blog on Multiply.)

So as of now, my Technorati ranks for my blogs are:

1,112,328 for Gleamings from the Dawn (my blog about Golden Dawn). Interestingly enourgh this is also the rank for the now hidden lulu (MDE) storefront blog.

1,603,173 for Musings from the Pen (this blog).

And my now newly claimed blogs (with absolutely no authority behind them) Dreams of TARDISes, Warp Engines and Stargates (a science fiction blog that I plan on posting Doctor Who fan fiction to...someday when I complete the stories) and Bag Full of Tricks (a political blog that I really should consider updating more often) are at 3,197,294.

RAEBNC

Earlier this month, I had a comment on one of my blog entries saying that she (Kate) wished that she could give it a simple thumbs up like we do on facebook (without having to leave an actual comment).

And I understood exactly what she was saying. There are times I wish that option was available also.

I have a friend whose blog I have quit commenting on because he wants comments, and good comments at that: no repeating what other people have said, constructive and insightful comments. I rarely comment on his blog simply because of time schedules, I am like the twentieth comment (and it is hard work to come up with something that he will tolerate from me). He hates (or maybe loathes) what I am about to suggest to my own readers.

If you want to give me a thumbs up, but do not want to leave a full comment, just say "RAEBNC."

For those people who have never been a member of an amateur press association (APA): RAEBNC is shorthand for "Read and enjoyed, but no comment."

Interestingly enourgh, the same APA that I picked up an appreciation for RAEBNC is the same place that my friend picked his hatred for the term. But in all fairness, we were at different places in our development as writers when we were members of that APA (Phoenix---a science fiction/fantasy APA).

Go ahead and RAEBNC me; I won't be insulted.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

So it is spam you are after

Well, we all knew the day would come; I just deleted one of my connections on Facebook for being nothing more than a spam generator. I guess it goes with the territory of being semi-public in my activities. At least, I am doing better on Facebook than on MySpace; on MySpace every friend request is about sending spam.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Test posting using Word 2007

Hi everyone!

This is a test post using Word 2007. I am new to using the 2007 version. But given some of the difficulties encountered trying to fix Word 2003 on the desktop computer (I am still having problems from the system recovery), my wife and I decided to upgrade to the 2007 version when we brought our laptops.

Yes, I have a laptop computer now. I am having better luck with mine than Toni is having. She ended up with the blue screen of death today.

She brought a HP computer; I defaulted to a cheaper computer: a Toshiba.

My decision was based purely on my budget.

So now, I am trying to learn the ins and outs of this new version of Word. One of the types of documents that can be created is a blog post. So here I am, attempting to see if this function actually will work for me.

Have a good night everyone.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Silly editor

Silly newspaper editor is asking us writers for story ideas. Didn't the last editor tell him that we all think about our stories at the last minute? and write them after the deadline?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Attack of the toxic writing friend

Did a lot of tech support stuff last night. My wife brought a new laptop with her student loan money (she is getting her second bachelor degree---Spanish). The reason for this purchase is that it was really hard this last semester to share a single computer.

(We did have some other computers, but all in various states of non-function.)

Then this summer, she hogged the computer for her family tree and neighborhood history research projects, so I ended up doing less freelance writing than I was hoping to.

So her purchase of a new laptop should mean that I get my homework done in a more timely fashion, and result in more actual writing getting done by me.

The ironic part is that I am considering making this my last semester of college and giving up on being a writer.

Earlier this week, amusingly enourgh on the day that we read the story of Abel and Cain in the Biblical Literature class, I recieved the nastiest letter I have ever gotten from one of my toxic writing friends (technically she is a relative). Then another one from someone else who decided to wade into the conflict.

I came to the realization that she was a toxic writing friend several years ago. I noticed that after talking to her, I would not write for a week. But this letter was worthy of my mother, except mom would never commit something like this to paper or pixels; you can always claim that you were misheard if there is no paper trail.

One of the reasons I quit talking to my mother was that I would not write for a month afterwards; there were also major religous differences. After awhile, I decided that I did not want to play the game any more. I love my mother, but one of us obivously needs some mental help.

My dear sister has came to the conclusion that it is me that needs the mental help. As most of my readers know I dabble in the occult---turns out I am delusional.

Also turns out that I have no potential to be a writer or a teacher (I am wasting my time on two fronts). I had always thought that the toxicity was that knowing the writing business, she was trying to protect me from the heartache of failure. So much for me associating noble intentions to her actions. Turns out that she feels that I do not have the full emotional range needed to be a writer.

She is right. All I wanted to do was flush her head after reading the letter. It took me a whole day to realize that I still love her despite the fact that I am a lousy writer, a bum, and completely worthless.

I probably will not give up being a writer. I actually did some writing Friday which was a first time I have ever written anything the day after dealing with my sister. And dropping out of college is probably not going to happen either (I started college because I could not find a job, and I might shot someone if I go back to flipping burgers), despite the old chestnut of accusing me of mooching off the wife (I guess paying for her studio rent all that time counted for absolutely nothing).

I regret that I may never talk to my sister ever again. But the extent of the poison ink dripping off the email, that may just be self-defense.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

OMG! I know some Biblical history

Well, today is the second day of school which is a lot more fun than justifying my book reviewing methods for the umpteeth time.

(By the way, I am not sure I feel like justifying my book reviews to someone who can not spell my name right. It is NOT Morgan Drake Epstein; it is Morgan Drake Eckstein. It is a subtle difference. My last name means "cornerstone"; I have no idea what Epstein means. All I know is that none of my work shows up on a goggle of Morgan Drake Epstein.

(As for my posting book reviews on Associated Content and having Adsense on my blog, I happen to be a freelance writer. I realize that the world view of occultists says that writers should give all their copyrights away, and never make a dime, for the good of humanity. But I believe that the divine wants me to have a roof over my head...and considering writing and annoying people are the only two skills I have...well, you get the picture.

(Furthermore, going back and changing a book review when my opinion of the book has not changed...I am sorry...are you trying to control the free press? By the way, research by book publishers has always indicated that bad book reviews do not hurt book sales. The key to book sales is "buzz"; even a bad book review is helpful.

(And there is a long list of writers who think I reviewed their work wrongly...get in line. Nobody is getting a rewrite; your personal opinion of my motives are no more important than my friendship with the other writers that I have trashed.

(I am not sure if any of that was helpful, but I wanted to get it off my chest. Now back to the regular scheduled blog post.)

So this semester, my third at the University of Colorado at Denver, I am taking:

Chemistry for the Consumer
Colorado History
Gothic Literature
and The Bible as Literature.

It was during The Bible as Literature class that I realized that I am not a normal student. And not just in the nontraditional sense (remember I became a freelance writer and a college student because of unemployment).

Now, I am taking the Bible class because I am not terribly familar with the Bible. Occasionally, I can spot a Biblical reference when I run across it; but most of the time, I will have no clue where it is from. Not good if you are a Literature major, or a ceremonial magician for that matter.

As a kid, my background in the Bible was the Big Little Book of Bible Stories. My parents did not agree on religion, so I was raised with none with the exceptation of the forementioned book. The little bit of religous training I got was from my aunt: a Garderian witch. I did some exploring and browsing of various religions in my twenties before coming back to Wicca, though I adopted a different flavor to call my own.

In the nineties, I found myself in Golden Dawn, which for some reason does not seem to be the same branch or culture as some other people experienced (could it be that they told the hierarchy where to go for a reason?); this is where I picked up my initial Kabbalah training.

(I was also influenced by Modern Magick, which despite being published by a certain book company, was actually a working textbook, as in it was attempting to teach practical magic.)

And as everyone who studies Kabbalah eventually learns, it is rooted in the Bible. Which is how the son of a Catholic went back studying the lore of his ancestors who decided to become Catholic to avoid being burned at the stake for being Jewish.

(I am not sure how they would feel about me being pelted for writing terrible book reviews...but I am not changing my opinion, thank you very much.)

Though the course of studying Kabbalah, I picked up some history of how the Bible came to be (I love history, hence my minor). That and I have tied some of the history classes I have taken to waht I already knew.

So I knew I had some knowledge about the history connected with the Bible.

What I did not realize was that my peers, my fellow class mates, had no knowledge of how the Bible came into being. We were doing the scaffold exercise (the professor borrowed the idea from Carl, who I had for Greek history two semesters ago). Basically you are given ten events in a random order that occur in the period of history you are about to study. You try to put them in order. (I did better with Bible history than I did with Greek history.)

These ten events became the scaffold (or in my case, a ladder) that you plug the rest of the dates into. It is the big picture, much like plugging things into the Tree of Life.

But I can not help worrying about my fellow college students. I presume that they are representive of their generation. No sense of history, no sense of literature. And most of them, informal poll, seem to be communication majors.

It is obivous that my bad book reviews are not the only thing that the world needs to worry about.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Who is my audience?

Lately, I have been kicking around the question of exactly who is my audience. A little bit more than I normally do.

Part of it is the fact that I am starting another semester of writing for Campus Connections, the student newspaper of the Community College of Denver. And we just switched editors, so it is time to refocus what the paper aims for.

Now, a lot of this refocus for me is cleaning up my astrology column based on what I learned last year. But some of it is simply trying to figure out who reads the college newspaper in the first place. Outside of myself and a couple of friends I do not know anyone who reads Campus Connections. (And I read anything, especially if I am bored, so I am not a typically reader. Plus I am a non-traditional student.)

But the question extends past the newspaper. Who exactly is reading my stuff?

I think the high point of pondering the mystery of my audience came recently when I was writing an article on money spells to post on Associated Content. Should I aim for people who know something about magic and money spells (why are they reading AC if they already know something) or should I aim for everyone who does not know the first thing about magic?

In the end, I tossed another item on the stack of beginner's material, doing just a simple money spell that in theory anyone can do. It boiled down to a pageview answer. I just don't think that there are that many advanced people out there to justify writing something complicated (I could be wrong).

What I would really like to see is a market study of the pagan/wiccan/ceremonial magic readership. One that does not rely solely on guessing the audience profile based on the number of books sold (if you go just by the numbers, only beginner pagan/wiccan and new age books and articles should be written). But I am betting that if such a study existed, it would be a trade secret. Alas, I can dream.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Posted the last two astrology articles

Yesterday, I finally got around to posting the last two astrology articles I wrote last semester for Campus Connections, the student newspaper of the Community College of Denver. Outside of these, I only have one article left that I plan on posting on the web; and it is a Halloween themed one, so I am going to wait until October to republish it.

(There were a couple of other articles I wrote for the paper; but they are either really bad or very narrow audience, so I am not going to republish them.)

I definitely wanted to post these last two before I started reprinting the ones that I am going to be writing this year for the student newspaper.

One of the reasons that I have been at so many of the staff meetings for the paper is that I wanted some format changes in the way I was doing the astrology column. That and the little fact that I have already seen the schedule for the writers' meeting, and I am in class during them: hence I am going to miss a lot of meetings this semester.

The biggest format change that is going to happen is that I am no longer going to be writing an introduction (editorial) section for the astrology column: just the sun signs are being read according to my informal reader survey. There were other changes, but they were all print media related.

If anyone is curious, the last two articles were about pet peeves of college students and a sun sign career guide.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Geocities is closing

Geocities is closing in October and honestly I could care less, both as a writer and as the webmaster of my lodge.

There is the option of transferring the pages to Yahoo webhosting for eight dollars a month (a whole year at a time). But the lodge related pages never got any traffic, nor did my pages as a writer. That is why I quit adding pages to both sites.

No traffic=massive waste of time and energy.

I can find the geocities pages on a search engine, but only because I know what words to search with. No one ever finds these pages unless they are purposely looking for them.

And I have no idea why anyone linked to them (a couple of people did for some reason beyond my ability to reason out), despite the fact that my blogs right here on Blogger (or at least two of them) and the Bast Temple website (done with Microsoft Office Live) were better examples of the work being done by me and the lodge.

So let us wave goodby to geocities; I am sure not going to miss them.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I can feel my ego growing as I type

I just returned from a meeting with the editor and art director of Campus Connections, the student newspaper for the Community College of Denver. I went to suggest changes for the astrology column that I write. All of my suggestions were accepted.

I guess market research and reader feedback counts for something.

But I am not sure if I am comfortable with the effect on my ego.

One of the changes I wanted was to get rid of the introduction; basically I discovered that no one is actually reading it. Also I want a column this year that is closer to what I would get paid to write elsewhere. And the editor wants to get rid of it too...because he thinks that I am actually a better writer than that based on the work I did in a history class that he was also attending (he wants some serious political and historical articles from me).

Gee, I can feel my ego grow as I type. Run away! Run away!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Do you expect instant success?

Something that I noticed among those people who are involved with the various writing sites (Helium, Associated Content, etc.) is that a lot of people join them, write a couple of articles, then become upset when the money does not come flooding in. Then they post a complaint and leave in a huff.

Now, there are people who do not fall under this category. People who are willing to put in the time and energy to build up a stock of articles. These people eventually reach payout.

And as far as I can tell, these two types of people populate all the earning possibilities. Whether it is PTC, PTR, survey sites, social networking, etc. Either they expect instant success, or they are in it for the long haul. The same holds true for brick and mortar ventures.

In my case, I tend to assume for the writing sites that I will only earn a stack of pennies after I create a ton of articles. I am in it for the long haul.

I think that one of the reasons for this expectation is my experience with previous businesses. My father never made any quick money. And restaurants make mere pennies for their most frequently sold items. It is time and volume that makes up the profit, not a quick instant success. Or at least, that is the way it works in my universe.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Who reads astrology columns? I still don't know.

Today, I spent some time trying to find out information about who your typical astrology column reader is. A couple of hours worth. And I still don't know.

While I have found some information, it is all third party information.

Interestingly enourgh, the articles and sites that do cite demographic information are all anti-astrology: astronomy, Christian (anti-magic and anti-divination), and fraud awareness sites. The professional astrologers seem to have made their own typical customer a trade secret.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Occasionally

Occasionally, I wonder about some of the emails I get. The lastest one was entitled "Sometimes."

The message said, "My contempt responds in the wolf."

There was nothing else in the email. No picture. No advertisment. And no clue why it was sent to me.

I wonder what the sender meant to accomplish. Was it merely to make me wonder?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Finally created a twitter account

Well, I finally set up a twitter account. I have avoided doing this for awhile. I realize that as a writer, I should have a twitter account. Or at least, that is what the good folks over at Associated Content tell me.

Personally, not believing in mobile phones, the idea of twitter has passed me by. You can have a cell phone; but for myself, I had one for a couple of years, and I think I used it a dozen times over that time period. So it is like a hundred dollars per time I actually used the phone to make or recieve a call.

But a couple of people I know have twitter accounts, and actually update regularly. So I created a twitter account to be able to read their updates.

And if I can figure out how to do it, I will set my Associated Content account up so that it posts a link every time I publish something on AC because I am not the world best promoter of my own material. Having some of my self-promotion set on auto-pilot might help.

So if you want to get updates of all my Associated Content stuff (some of it might actually be readable), follow me on Twitter. And I will try to update it as often as I update Facebook.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Who died and made you editor?

Yesterday, I had a piece that I had written rejected because...well, I am not exactly sure. The form rejection said that it did not exhibit correct grammar, sentence structure, spelling and punctuation, which is like saying that something is not orange; it really does not narrow the actual problem down.

Looking over the piece, I could only find one sentence that was awkward. The rest of it would have gotten by the harshest of my university professors.

So I am left with wondering why it was rejected. Could it be that they did not want to pay for the piece and that was a handy reason. Or could it be that online editors are not necessarily qualified to do the job in the first place.

Yes, it was an online rejection.

I miss the days of the print market. At least there, you would occassionally get your article back with a sentence circled, so you would know where to look. But online rejections are even more cryptic than the form letters of the print market.

Looking over the piece, I noticed that I was writing at a college level; I was using complex and compound sentences, and some colons and semicolons.
And that is why I think the piece got bounced.

Call me paranoid. But there is one thing I have noticed from college class peer reviews and writing circles: if a person does not know why something is being done grammar-wise, they will say that it is wrong.

And a lot of online editors are not editors by trade. They are business people, computer people, and other people who did not have to suffer beyond eighth grade English (as in they never needed to prove that they knew what a semicolon was good for). These are the type of people that would prefer you to commit the crime of creating a comma splice, rather than use a semicolon.

Maybe I am wrong in this case. But the nagging voice in the back of my head tells me that I just encountered another editor who should not actually be an editor.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mylot glitch and rumor fixed

Last week, over the weekend, Mylot had a small computer glitch. Basically, earnings were not being updated in a timely manner. Of course, this started people (or maybe more properly trolls) talking about how Mylot was not going to pay anymore. Computer glitch, trolls and rumors---what an unpleasant combination.

I wasn't worried. As many of my readers know, I use Mylot to relax, and perhaps warm up for a day's worth of writing. For me, Mylot is only a little pile of pennies, not neccessary a big deal if it did go payless. I just don't have enourgh referrals to make it worth my time to sweat over.

But it does call to mind two things.

First off, you should never be relying on one source of income that its removal causes you to panic. This is especially true for us writers. Markets come and go, and you should never have all your eggs in just one basket.

The second thing is that I have heard rumors like this on every site I belong to when a glitch results in earnings not being updated in a timely fashion. Trolls like to use every little glitch to stir up the pot. While some sites do go under, there are far more rumors than actual sites going under. One should never rely on rumors to figure out the health of a website that you are earning on.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Observing oneself in others

The last couple of weeks, I have gotten to watch someone obsessed with a research project. My wife is interested in tracing her family tree; she is also busy researching the history of our local neighborhood. The two projects overlap to such an extent that they appear to be one and the same to me (same skill-set, same type of research).

On one hand, it is cutting into my computer time, hence my writing time (though I will admit that I am not sure how much writing I would actually be doing; I am guilty of treating my summer as a vacation). On the another hand, it has given me the opportunity to observe someone obsessed with a research project.

I, personally suffer from research obsession. It is a trait that is useful both as a writer and a student of the mysteries (it has proven to be less useful as a college student---go figure). But it does have the side effect of me staying up until four in the morning trying to locate the one fact or figure that will make an entire scheme understandable. ("Just give me ten more minutes; I want to consult one more book before going to bed." Repeat as needed.)

The reason that I find my wife's obsession so interesting is that I have never watched a research obsession from the outside before. Call it knowing oneself though the actions of others.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

An off day

I am kinda out of it for today. The most productive thing I have done today is guard the injuried sleeping kitty, and fed the recently fixed kitty. The cleaning lady sneak up on me (OMG, is that the time) and I have spent a lot of time on Facebook doing very little. I do not think that I am going to get any writing done today.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cats going to the vet today





Two cats are going to the vet today. One is getting fixed, and both are being tested for FL (hopefully they do not have it---if they do: they will have to be put to sleep). Both are sweet boys that were abandoned.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fall schedule

Well, after putting it off for a couple of weeks (or is it months at this point?), I finally registered for Fall 2009 classes (University of Colorado at Denver). I am taking:

Chemistry for the Consumer
Bible as Literature
Gothic Literature
Colorado History

I thought about taking basic biology instead. But I never did take high school chemistry, and I already own a biology textbook. And the Chemistry for the Consumer class is a in-home lab using household chemicals; ok, maybe that is not a good idea.

Both the chemistry and Bible class are lower division classes (I have to take another science if I want to graduate). The other two are upper division classes. I registered too late to take the Critical Essay class, but I just do not feel like doing it this semester. Especially considering I am going to have to read the Bible, or at least parts of it.

My exposure to the Bible was the Big Little Book of Bible Stories as a kid (my wiccan aunt gave me more religious training than my parents did), and the occasional bit that I have read as a Golden Dawn based kabbalist. I do not recognize Bible quotes when I run across them in literature. Hopefully, the class will help me as a writer, literature student, history student, and kabbalist.

I am taking the Gothic Literature because I want to; same with the Colorado History class (though that one may be research for a work of fiction that I have kicked around occasionally).

But part of all, I have no morning classes. This is really going to help me get some writing done this coming semester. Now all I have to do is decide who I want to annoy with my writing this fall; you know that I am going to annoy someone; after all, I am ME!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

RIP Charlie

To add to the troubles of this week, on Thursday, we had to take one of the cats to the vet. Charlie had gotten injuried in a cat fight and the wound was not healing. Given the fact that she was eighteen years plus in age, we decided that putting her to sleep was more merciful than attempting mutliple operations and trying to keep the other cats away from her. I ended up crying a lot; after all, she was one of my cats and I had her for eighteen plus years. RIP Charlie.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Computer Crash of June 2009

Yesterday was the only day this month that I did not have my wife, or someone else, scheduled to interrupt my workday as a writer.

So what happens...

Yep, that is right. A computer crash. Some dll got corrupted and Windows would not start; I was forced to hit system recovery.

So an eight hour writing day, a bunch of free time, and I have finally got Windows back up to date; my anti-virus reinstalled; two of my web browsers back up and MSN messenger.

I have yet to get the printer driver installed. Nor have I set up a different user section for my wife (mainly because she needs different settings for her Spanish homework and iTunes). And I haven't even thought about trying to recover my own files.

So I am at least a couple of more days away from doing any more writing.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Something I have to learn

Something I have to learn to do is to quit reading the comments to the book reviews that I do, especially the esoteric book reviews. Either that or learn to ignore them. The comments just annoy the hades out of me. And that is not good for the writing. I wonder how other book reviewers deal with it. Or for that matter, how do the writers of books cope with reviews of their books.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Follow-up to Yesterday's post

Helium fixed the title sometime after I posted yesterday. It is still not in the channel that I think it should be, but I can see their thinking about it.

And as those of you who have read the previuos posting, Associated Content has bugged me; rather their readers have.

Thank god for video games to help calm me down. Now it is off to do a couple more book reviews.

Who are the readers of book reviews?

Today, I was reading a comment that someone made about my review of Magic Squares and the Tree of Life; it reminded me how hard it is to write book reviews and please everybody (the same holds for articles, lessons, and books).

Especially if you are trying to address the entire range of possible readers.

In the case of this book, the range was from true neophyte to advanced adept. Any review that excludes a section of the audience is incomplete, but any review that attempts to be complete is going to upset those who do not realize that you are trying to address the review towards the entire audience.

I will admit with this review I leaned towards the complete neophyte. Of course, part of the reason for that is it takes time to create a magic square of this size, and months (if not years) to properly evaluate whether it actually delivers.

And in the end, this is the review that I think needed to be written. It is not the adept that needs to be warned that this book is an instruction manual requiring a lot of work to be completed; it is the complete neophyte that needs to know that their money is better spent elsewhere.

Maybe I made the wrong call, but I stand behind the review I wrote.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Frustrations

I am a little frustrated today.

Had a survey freeze up on me (ten minutes into it).

I have two articles on Bukisa sitting in editorial.

The wife keeps asking me if I am coming out to help her work on the flower bed. I think she is trying to guilt me into it. This is why I am going to get a cubicle job after I graduate college. She does not understand that self-employment means putting your business in front of everything else.

And Helium not only put a title I suggested into the wrong channel (literature---international writer?!) for a book review on Magic Squares and the Tree of Life (new age maybe, literature not even close), but the title also has a spelling mistake in it. I know that they are going to blame the mistake on me, despite the fact that I copied it from my Word document and it appears correct on two other writing sites.

The only people/site who have not bugged me today is Associated Content. Give them time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Joined Bukisa

Now that I am done with the Open Full Moon ritual, I finally had time to do a couple of things that I have been putting off.

I checked my grades: two As (Shakespeare; History: Theory and Practice), one A- (Literature: Cather Willa) and one B+ (Rome: City and Empire). I am going to have to go online later and see if I can figure out what is up with my aid for the fall semester.

On the writing end, I am working on three book reviews.

And I finally got around to joining Bukisa. An online writer friend told me about the site a couple of months ago, but I just did not have time to go look at it until today.

Bukisa is another site that you can post articles to and earn income from. It reminds me of Associated Content except that you can earn referral income from Bukisa, a whole three levels worth. There are no upfront payments, but the rate for thousand unique pageviews is higher than Associated Content. The payout threshold is ten dollars, payable though Paypal (net plus 30). The site is open to non-US residents.

Bukisa may be worth the time for an online writer to check out. One knows that those who are good at getting referrals are going to flock to it, simply because they will do better there than on Helium and Associated Content.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Click my articles, I will click on yours

Today on myLot, I was reading a discussion where the poster was asking for people to form a partnership with him on one of the writing sites (one where you get paid by the page view).

His idea (or was it a she---I couldn't tell from the avatar or the user name---doesn't matter) was that if you become his friend on the site, and click on all of his articles, then he will click on all of yours. "That way both of our earnings could go up!"

Hmmm...I am a happy little cynic: if you click on his articles, how do you know that they are going to return the favor? Furthermore, isn't this a violation of most of the user agreements that the writing sites use?

And here is the real tragedy for you. If you actually want to make more money, you are actually better off writing more articles and advertising them rather than doing a scheme like this.

Don't believe me: try such a scheme with a willing writing friend and track the amount of clicks you do, the amount of time that you waste, and how little the two of you earn. Then get back to the typewriter (my age is showing) and continue writing. Forget such schemes; they do not work.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Whole three days lost


Well, just in time for the three day weekend, my wife got sick. So I ended up doing no writing this weekend, and next to no work on preparing for June 5th Open Full Moon Ritual that I am leading. And true to form, having dealt with her being sick for three whole days, and getting nothing accomplished, today all I have really done is to stroll around a new Golden Dawn forum. Hopefully, tommorrow I will get back into work mode. As for the rest of today, I think I am going to go read and nap with my familiar.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Writing short descriptions of Egyptian gods/goddesses

Making progress on getting ready for the June 5th OFM. Wrote out ten 25 (give or take a couple) word descriptions for some of the Egyptian gods/goddesses I plan on using.

I am glad that I have started working on this project already, rather than waiting until the last minute. Given the amount of work that I did on it yesterday and this afternoon, I can see that it is going to take a lot more work to get ready for.

The short descriptions may be the easiest part of the whole project. After all, I just need to tell the name of the god/goddess and their baseline Golden Dawn function. It is not like I am actually trying to condense three thousand years of Egyptian and Hermetic lore into twenty-five words.

A couple of samples of what I ending up with:

There are two forms of Anubis used by GD: one in the hall, one outside. One functions as a guide; the other as a protector.

In her aspect as goddess of wisdom, Isis was the patron of the first GD lodge. Her function is fertility.

Amseht is the humanheaded son of Horus. He is the vice-regent of the element of fire, and the guardian of the initiate's airy body.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hardest ten pages

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that these ten pages about Willa Cather will be the hardest ten pages that I have ever written. It may just be the number of interruptions that I am experiencing: bad timing events that keep throwing me off my stride. I am going to try a couple of banishings and see if that helps.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bad timing on marketplace

Today, I recieved one of the Helium Marketplace alerts, the email for those who have written articles similiar to those currently being requested by someone in the marketplace. And I promptly said "Damn it" when I saw the deadline---this Sunday.

Talk about bad timing. There is no way I can even hack out a single astrology article before the deadline; I have finals to cope with. I still have a week to go, plus one day. At this point, I have to study for two finals, and write twenty pages for papers that function as finals (plus complete research).

And I know that I can do the type of stuff these requests are asking for; after all, I started to write astrology articles for one of the college newspapers this last semester. But there is no way that I can make the deadline for this set.

I wonder if they will have any more marketplace requests later this year. I hope so. But if nothing else, I have another marker about how much to price the astrology articles I intend to write this summer. That is something positive, isn't it?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Coming around the bend

I can so tell that I am nearing the end of the college semester. For the past couple of nights, I have insisted on turning on the television; and when not wasting time in front of the idiot box or playing games, I have found myself working on the Bast Temple website or researching the upcoming June Open Full Moon Ritual. Even mowing the lawn is preferable to doing any more homework.

I am eager to get back to regular writing, despite the fact that I am doing my best to ignore the twenty or so pages I need to hack out for classes by Tuesday (not to mention studying for two essay style finals). And I have so been resisting the urge to write a couple of Golden Dawn related articles.

It is probably hard for non-writers to understand how a writer's mind can associate writing with recreation. But we do, or at least I do.

Here to the final week and a half of the semester: may it not be too brutal.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I wished I would have wrote this

There are times, both as a college student and as a freelance writer, that I read something and say "Gee, I wished that I would have wrote that; it is so much better than what I wrote." Today, over at Helium, I had one of those moments.

The other day, I wrote a review of a gaming suppliment that I had stumbled over: The Book of Erotic Fantasy. I suggested the title to Helium and it was approved. It is one of those titles that you hope becomes competitive, just so you can read the comments that others are making.

And this morning, I discovered that someone else had looked at the book and commented on it: Carrie Schutrick.

I am green with envy. I really wished that my review of this gaming suppliment was as good as hers. She said everything I wanted to, and some stuff I should have.

Here is the link to her review of The Book of Erotic Fantasy. Enjoy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Looking forward to the end of the semester

Once again, we are approaching the end of another semester, and I am so ready to have it over. As always the required writing for my classes have edged out my other writing. I don't imagine that is good for my business.

Of course, this pattern is exactly why I am more focused on "passive income" writing than "active income". This summer I am going to be hunting for a couple of more passive income writing sites; hopefully, I can find some that are not "slave labor sites" as one blogger puts it.

It is not that I have anything against Helium and Associated Content; it is just that I am hoping to locate some better places to put some of my writing. Honestly, given the tightness of the credit market I need to find better passive income sites; private student loans have dried up for me.

I will be doing an experiment and seeing how Constant Content works with some of my articles this summer. I also have the task of doing some SEO for a fellow lodge member who needs to get more traffic to one of their sites. Plus I have an Open Full Moon ritual in June to get ready for.

So I am very ready for the semester to be over and for my summer work/writing season to begin.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Plagiarism is Theft

Here is a link to a post that a fellow writer wrote about her latest adventure with someone copying her blog posts word for word: Plagiarism is Theft.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tarot deck review link: Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn

Just completed my review of the Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn. Ended up giving it four and a half stars out of five.

Wow, I am good at rating

I have been slacking off on rating over at Helium this past month. I had planned on doing some rating over my spring break, but the food poisoning got in the way of that plan. I have done a couple of ratings this past week, but that is about the extent of it.

So it is not really a surprise that I dropped from 23 rates down to 8 today (thirty day total). The surprise is that with these eight I have a hundred percent for my score. It makes me wonder what I did differently with these eight than some of the preceeding ratings that I have done.

For those who are curious, my normal percentage floats between 70 and 89.

Though let's be honest, it doesn't matter. With the number of rates done over the last ninety days, being a mere 102, I must get some rates done in the near future.

But it was nice to have a perfect rating percentage for one day.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Lost shoe

Warning: This post has absolutely nothing to do with writing.

Somewhere outside, under the snow, is one of my shoes. The wife (no, she is "the wife" for this story; I am not sure I want to claim her by calling her "my wife"), anyways, the wife threw one of my shoes out the door at the stray dog that keeps coming over and eating all the cat food that we put on the porch for the poor straving kitties in the neighborhood.

She did not tell me about the fact that one of my shoes was outside until yesterday----when the snow was already too deep to attempt to find it. She says that she forgot that she did so; that is believable, she forgets to tell me a lot of things until days later.

It wouldn't have been so bad, except last week she made me toss in the trash a couple of pairs of my shoes that had ceased to be usable. No, she has to threw a good shoe at the dog. And she couldn't threw one of the many unread papers that are by the door either.

I think that she owes me a new pair of shoes, considering it is going to be a couple of days before I can attempt to find this one. By then it will be nice and soggy, and well on the way to the trash.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Blizzard of 2009

Looking outside, I realize that I am trapped inside the house with my wife today; the snow is starting to drift outside. After yesterday, I am not sure that this is the best thing to happen.

Yesterday, Toni organized some of her files (she is an elementary school art teacher); she also was organizing our donation to one of the local charities. Much of this donation involved going though my clothes.

Ok, I will admit that I have a lot of stuff that I don't wear, should get rid of, and am not sure why I got that in the first place. Some of the stuff were donated to me when I was younger and poorer (it is hard to believe that I used to be even poorer than I am right now, isn't it?).

My Renzios shirts are now packed in a trash bag waiting for pickup. This is in part an effort to make sure that I stay with writing, and do not go back to working in food service management.

There were also a lot of ugly clothes donated.

Unfortunately, and no surprise to those who know me, this streak of spring cleaning eventually set me off. And made it impossible to work.

It had actually started in the morning. I had awoken to thoughts about what homework and what freelance writing I wanted to research, and Toni sidetracked me quickly with something that I did not think was important. So I was annoyed from the very beginning of the day. And sooner or later, the storm would break; especially considering things kept being added to my to-do list.

As the possibility of writing got further and further away, the more upset I got.

A friend of Toni's called in the afternoon, after I started to use narsh language. She understood the problem.

Quite simply, I am not used to having my wife home when I am trying to work. Toni's friend understands this problem; her own husband is a writer and she annoys him also. She says that over time, now that I am a writer (hey I am getting paid for it; I am a writer) that I will learn to ignore my wife when I am trying to work.

I hope that she is right. Then again, I used to ignore the lookie-loos at Renzios in the afternooon when I was working on pieces. And interruptions by my regular customers did not bug me.

Of course, they did not expect a lot of interaction from me; nor did they want it. They just wanted their order, so they could get back to work themselves. Heck, they were probably thinking of what they were going to do next, just like I was.

So cross your fingers that I re-learn this trick soon. Because today, I have no escape route; the blizzard has snowed me in.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Leapfrogging and editing to keep content current

So now that I am completely operational from my bout of food poisoning (I still felt a little under the weather even yesterday), I spent part of the day editing some of my old articles on Helium and Associated Content. It wasn't leapfrogging to compete; it was leapfrogging to keep the information up to date.

That is one of the things I both like and dislike about being an internet writer: the ability to keep my previously written content up to date, something that you can not do in the print market.

On one hand, it is good because it allows your material to remain current.

On the other hand, having the option almost forces you to actually do it.

As always, I have mixed feelings about this. Some of my oldest articles are still my best earners, but would I be better off writing new articles and increasing my stock instead? Who knows; I don't; I just do what I do.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Short Story Link: Voodoo Economics

Voodoo Economics (The Lodestone Mine Incident)

Before you take money away from someone, you should ask yourself what they did to earn it. You may also want to ask yourself what are they likely to do when they get upset. Congressman Kelley forgot to ask both of these questions.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sick on first day of spring break

Well, I was sick yesterday. I am not sure if it was just plain tiredness, food poisoning (everything is unsafe to eat nowdays), or the fact that I was laughing that I was going to give myself one day to nap all day and my body decided that meant a sick day. Or perhaps it was voodoo pins (hey I annoy people).

It is not how I wanted to spend the first day of my spring break. While I planned on getting nothing done yesterday, I would have at least liked to be able to enjoy myself. Perhaps putter around the garden, or surf the internet.

Instead I spent the day watching Doctor Who and the Dresden Files in between trips to the bathroom.

I really hope that the rest of my spring break goes better; I have a ton of homework to do, and I would also like to spend some time creating new articles.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Are fair book reviews possible?

While I was working on my latest book review, I found myself wondering if it was even possible to do a fair and unbiased book review.

It might have been the fact that I could hear a voice in the back of my head saying "If you can not say anything nice, then do not say anything at all." I am not sure what one of my relatives said that, but I am sure that the voice is one from my childhood.

And with this particular book, it was natural to hear it.

The reason I considered writing a review for the book is simply the fact that the author rants and raves about a couple of bad book reviews that he recieved when the book came out; as in he gives links to the bad reviews...the freelance writer in me goes if I write a bad book review, will he give me free advertising too?

Probably not: my book review ended being a lot more favorable than I expected it to be. I actually found some merit in his book. Sigh. I am going to have to do my own advertising.

(My regular readers know how sad that makes me; I have never been really good at advertising.)

But over the years, I have done a lot of bad book reviews.

A few years ago, one writer that I know said that he would send a free copy of his book to legitimate book reviewers. What exactly is a legitimate book reviewer? I am betting it is one that you are sure is going to give you a favorable review.

Or at least it is if you do not know how books actually get sold. It is not the reviews that sell books, it is the word of mouth. Even a bad book review can sell books (calling something a train wreck makes people curious for some reason).

So it probably does not matter what my opinion of your book is, you just have to get people curious enourgh about it to sell copies.