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!