the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero

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Yes, it’s been a year and a half since I’ve written here.

The post A shout-out for new followers… still applies. Chronic/persistent pain is such a terrible beast.

Then there is Binge eating — one of the last of my dirty little secrets. I’m going to meet with an RDN once again. I have to do it with the intent of diabetes education, first and foremost, because health insurance simply demands it be that way. But I got a referral to meet with someone who also has training and expertise in treating eating disorders. To sum up the post, yes, I got diagnosed with binge eating disorder by a previous RDN I was seeing for diabetes education. I went on to look into bariatric weight loss surgery, specifically the sleeve (think of it as stomach stapling 2.0). I went through the process they have all patients do, up until it was time for me to take a psychological evaluation (which is probably the VERY same one I took before having a trial neurostimulator implanted in my spine- see Electric Fences and Spinal Cord Stim and The trial version of the electric fence). I then decided I needed to get a better handle on my binge eating disorder before having the size of my stomach reduced.

This is all aside from losing weight on my own after many years, dropping from 383 pounds down to 286 the last time I stepped on the digital scale at my physician’s clinic. It didn’t happen all at once. I was at 316 for a long while, but this was after following the counting carbohydrates system the aforementioned RDN taught me- the one that gave me my eating disorder diagnosis. Then I did some intermittent fasting, and my newest physician started me on an injectable diabetes drug.. but I digress.

Then there are new developments that I think will give new posts for the A Blogger’s Journey series. I did start blogging at LiveJournal in 2002 to try to unpack all the abuse my mother heaped on me for many, many years. But it was SEVERAL years before I had a name for a lot of the abuse: narcissistic abuse. And it took me a while to realize that narcissists were ALL OVER my family of origin. Not just my mother, but my maternal grandmother, both my aunts, and at least one cousin. Not unique or unusual, no, but I am coming to understand my particular experience of family dysfunction. I had to find new online communities to better process this, because… I was blacklisted from one I’d been with for about 5 years. That was what Return to Path of the Sage was about, although I was very cryptic at the time. I was scared that I’d catch more ire from the host of that community, or any of her active followers. It’s not a story I wish to recount right now. But it’s the same story I’m referring to here:

Yes, I have a huge winter beard here. It’s not quite that long this winter season… but that’s another story.

Anyways, I hope to get back into the swing of posting again. I wish to welcome new readers! And to one in particular (you know who you are)… do you see what I mean when I told you “oh, this is just the tip of the iceberg”? I mean, I still haven’t mentioned the half of it!

But such is blogging.. I have time to unpack more of it. And finding the right balance to heal and grow, without oversharing, is tough. The masses on the Internet can be pretty vicious, and that’s counting a LOT of stories, including the one about my Internet stalker. I’ll do my best to write more. Thanks for your patience!


Which Basic Instructions Character am I?

I like to follow webcomics as well as blogs in my feed reader. I found out about Basic Instructions in an interesting way– it was through a goals site called Joe’s Goals, created by a guy who’s not even named Joe! (His name is Ian Smith.)

Scott says he doesn’t actually know of a “Which Character from House of Cards Are You?” quiz, but instead says there is a quiz from his webcomic series. See below.

I was sufficiently bored and curious to see what this quiz was all about. If you recall previous posts in The 10 Year Blogging Journey series, I mentioned that a LOT of posts I made (and other bloggers I followed) were comprised of these quirky, silly little quizzes.  (Thanks for the flashback, Missy, if you by some strange cosmic coincidence, happen to read this.)

The Emperor of the Moon

The Emperor of the Moon

You’re always coming up with plans; some small, some grand, some sheer elegance in their simplicity. Unfortunately, the incompetence of your minions and the sheer determination of your foe defeat you every time.

Which Basic Instructions Character Are You?

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Looking to the Journey Ahead, part 3

Mother Nature is once again exacting her toll on me, dear readers.  I am generally grateful for rain, especially as there has been a concern about a possible drought in our area, but humidity generally is just painful.  (It’s painful whether it’s cold or hot outside.)

Anyways, it has made blogging difficult.  I can never seem to schedule things enough ahead.

A Zero to Hero's JourneyThe next thing I wanted to talk about was continuing to build on Zero to Hero.  You may recall that the event challenge is over, and I figured I had done most of the challenges– even if I only had entries for about half of them.  I was still considering using an editorial calendar (Day 29), to give you all an idea of what to look forward to.

When I looked back to the Zero to Hero page, I found this addition at the beginning:

This page will be temporarily removed as of March 1 while we revamp the course. If you’re working your way through the tasks, feel free to paste the content into a file on your computer for ongoing reference after March 1.

Interesting.  I wonder how WordPress will revamp things.  I haven’t decided yet if I’ll try to meet the Day 29 challenge, to use an editorial calendar.  It’s tempting to just wait and see how they develop “the course” further.


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Photos (and videos) are part of the Journey

I smiled and chuckled reading today’s xkcd.

Alternate text: “I hate when people take photos of their meal instead of eating it, because there’s nothing I love more than the sound of other people chewing.”

Randall Munroe was a robotics scientist at NASA before his webcomic really took off, and sometimes it shows: some entries are pretty nerdy and obscure, and sometimes I feel I’m stretching a bit to get the joke.  Other times, like today, I think he touches on the pulse of Internet culture, dead on.  A capture of zeitgeist, if you will.

This was a posed shot we took a while back to show Flickr members who our photographers were. Many kept asking where our son was although he was too young to take any photos at that time.

Some of you dear readers may have noticed that my family and I are on Flickr, and that it’s a part of my blogging here.  My father-in-law, Bill (Cimmorene’s father) has been an amateur photographer for 40 years, and so it’s more than just a place to host blog photos, although I found out about the site through the VOX platform.  It’s not just me, either; Cimmorene and Princess are both principal photographers for the account.

While Bill and some of our Flickr friends deeply explore the artistic side of photography, Cimmorene, Princess and I employ a more documentary-style approach.  This is why I found today’s xkcd relevant.  Photography is capturing the journey, yes, even that Inner side to the Hero’s Journey I’ve been writing about here.

Princess and I are especially pushing towards video, because of our desire to document what’s happening in our lives, and the observation of what we see.

If it’s not immediately obvious, Princess is a big fan of Toby Turner, and she’s imitating some of his voice characterizations.

Admittedly, I think we three raise an eyebrow or two when Internet media trends seem shallow.  Princess doesn’t do a lot of selfies unless she wants to show a new cosplay idea, and as none of us have smartphones, but only a sophisicated point-and-shoot camera, she doesn’t take them in the manner most “selfies” are taken.  She’s also more inclined to do a short video now and then, and for a while… I found DOZENS of videos in the memory cards.  Since production software in Linux is pretty abysmal (as I said before), I told her she needed to keep her videos closer to 2-5 minutes, since I couldn’t easily edit things down.

I never knew homemade corndogs could be so delicious until Cimmy made some

We don’t take a lot of pictures of our food– well, not at restaurants, anyways.  We do take some photos of our meals, to brag a little bit about our home cooking and baking, and now and then, we show some of the process of making it.  Again, we lean towards a more documentary style of media making than a more artistic angle.  We appreciate the craft, but we are usually more interested in showing people snippets of our lives, than strong artistic statements.

What do you think, dear readers?  Is there meaning to be found amongst all the selfies and restaurant entreé captures?  Are cameraphone snapshots art?  Is the Instagram Polaroid filter cheesy nostalgia?  Is photography, casual or well-crafted, part of your online journey?

Do I look awkward asking so many invitation questions?  I think I do; it’s not a regular part of my style.  But please, walk with me, talk with me… leave me a comment.  Thanks!


A 10-year blogging journey: New Life and the VOX years

So next was a post about fleeing the terrible fourplex.  I’ll just link to it, since I don’t feel like summarizing it much.  Then there was a post about crime at the apartment complex (the new place).

After the miscarriage, my next big LiveJournal post was Bun in the oven.  This was nine weeks in, yet I knew it was going to happen.  Right at the moment of conception, even– with me grunting “have my child” at… well, you get the idea, right?  It was like the stars aligned and I knew it had to happen, right then.

October 28, 2006 I left the Camarilla.  Toxic people, toxic effects, but sadly it happened because I realized I’d alienate my sister if I stayed.

by distemper at DeviantArt-- presented by claim of fair use

This was as close as I could get to a parody some LJ’er in the Camarilla made of the old TNT network logo (it said “CAM” instead of “GOTH”). So true, it hurts.

Then we got confirmation the little wombmate was a boy.  We knew this already, as I said– our kids made themselves known.

Twenty days before he was delivered cesarean, I started blogging on VOX.  We were nervous up until the delivery day:

Well, not much of anything of import to say, save that my wife’s recent pregnancy has been a rollercoaster lately.  Last Saturday night and Sunday morning, we had a false alarm– 11 hours in the hospital during nighttime hours, only to find it was likely a UTI that triggered contractions. (March 14, 2007)

It’s down to the last week or two now, but babies do come when they want to. (March 20, 2007)

I felt a mixture of emotions when he finally came out.  He was so quiet, even when I was helping one of the nurses clean off the white stuff off him.  (By constrast, his older sister wailed.)  I was so impressed.  But later, I wondered why I didn’t feel as much excitement with him as I did his sister.  I thought, “If they took him back, that would be okay.”  What was wrong with me?

The Hero's Journey: Ordeal, Death, Rebirth

The Hero’s Journey: Ordeal, Death, Rebirth

Next post in the series: The son becomes the father…

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Goodbye, WHM?

I am having to let more things go… and this is really hard.

I know that some of you know that those independent music labels are appreciative of any sort of exposure they can get. But I feel that I have been dragging them along a little bit.

I have a perfectionist streak and that’s probably why I don’t get articles done faster. I did get into a niche where I wrote mostly on instrumental music, but… I think that from a marketing standpoint, it would have been better if I had finished press sooner.

I continue to struggle with health issues and now I have a child with special needs. Those of you reading already have an idea. I want to say that I am being more fair to them, but really, of course, I am letting go of pressure on myself.

I partly hung on and was duplicating articles because I wanted to keep Ex-Voxers remembering that We Heart Music started out on VOX. But I suspect that many just chose to forget; although Vu was considering WordPress (and he discussed it with me so I do know where he is coming from), he went with TypePad. Kinda disappointing because oh YES, it really is easier with native audio support… and really, articles got a lot easier to do there. I don’t think Vu knocks himself out half so much or maybe some of you remember how much VOX had to be tweaked with HTML code or Javascript commands.

Ergh… I am going to write the e-mail now. Best not to put it off.


Why all the fuss with (client-side) programs?

Please have patience with me. In the recent upheaval with Six Apart pulling the plug on VOX last month, I am adjusting the voice of my TechsWrite blog to suit a wider audience.

This article will be about why I prefer a program on my own computer to some application on a website for many tasks, including blogging.

Read more at TechsWrite: The Helpful Techie

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More adventures in blogging.

I have imported two articles I wrote for TechsWrite, a WordPress blog Michelle has graciously made over for technology discussion.

Please feel free to read and comment– I suggest a 'throwaway' e-mail address if you're uncomfortable with that field for post authentication.  Please also feel free to ask as many questions as you like as we don't hold back on our technobabble and jargon oft times, and you require a layman's/everyday people translation.

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By request: So what do I think of VOX so far?

"So what do I think of Facebook so far?" was just a post I made to explain away why I would spend time on Facebook instead of here.  It was written from Facebook.

But LBeeeze wants to know what I think of VOX.  Fair enough.

I migrated over here from LiveJournal.  It was in the wake of Six Apart acquiring LiveJournal (before it was handed over to SUP).  LiveJournal users were fussing about some format changes (think to when we had an interface change) and somehow in the discussion, VOX got mentioned.

LiveJournal users were afraid that Six Apart was going to turn their site into a MySpace alternative.  They reasoned that since VOX seemed to be aiming for an older audience (note: our privacy groups are named differently, starting with Neighborhood), this somehow meant that LiveJournal would be styled younger.  So I went over to see what the noise was about.  Admittedly, I let some of the negative hype get to me and I missed the window of the beta period.  But obviously, I overcame that and decided to jump in and see what things were about.

I was pleasantly surprised.  You see, I had come to know the "drama whoring" side of LiveJournal.  The theatrics came when changes were announced, and well, I came to LiveJournal through a gaming organization that was already known itself for its melodrama.  I did not find that here.  In fact, when I had UTTERLY crummy days and I was less than mature and composed– well– the response was different.  There was no "shit hitting the fan", there was no meltdowns, there was no passive-aggressive tactics… generally.

I've had to boot a few folks, as I explained already.  But it is with less baggage.  At LiveJournal, when you manage your friendslist, you see a list of names: an arrow next to them pointing one way means they have friended you (or what we would call "adding to the Neighborhood").  An arrow next to them pointing the other way means you have friended them (like adding them to your Neighborhood).  Because all this information is very blatantly obvious there, sometimes there was much conflict when people unfriended someone, or each other.  It is less obvious here, so people generally don't make a big deal about it.

I must give VOX style points for being user-friendly.  As I told Maya (or maybe I said it elsewhere), a user friendly interface was not the norm for LiveJournal, quite, until Six Apart gave it to them.  Yes, my friends, generally you had to know HTML.  That is not necessarily bad for a geek like me, but… really, now.  When you want things to be accessible to a broad audience, easy to use is good.  That hasn't been without hitches– I know a lot of you have had troubles with formatting and other weird compatibility quirks and such.  But it could be a lot worse.  And despite what LJ users said, someone at Six Apart took time out of their day to respond to a concern I had.  Read about it here and here and here.  Thanks again, daisy — you rock!

People are people.  Human nature being as it is, people do like to talk about themselves… and that's especially true on a blog!  I do find that people come by and say "why helllllooo" more often if I talk about them specifically or mention something I know they are interested in, but…

…it's magical when it really comes together and I just enjoy doing that for the social exchange.  Examples?

Maya says: Wow, we said the same thing– and we are on the same page! so of course I mention her post in my follow-up.

LBeeeze's whimiscal pictures inspire this audio post and this audio post.

canarygirl said: "Put on your best Homer Simpson voice and say it with me: 'MMMMMM Chocolate Caake.'"  Okay, done.  So then she edits the link into her post!  Fabulous!

I wasn't sure if anyone was listening to my VOXcasts.  Then I couldn't get a mic to work.  vu pops in and asks what's up.  Okay, I find a workaround and start recording again!  Sweet!  (Well, why shouldn't he ask?  Much earlier, he came by and said I was mentioned in a WHM podcast.  I went, listened, and found he was quoting part of what I said here, verbatim.  I was totally slackjawed, not to mention flattered.)

I tease Robbbiedobbbie about Tom Tom The Keyboard Man bringing her new stuff to her little job a while back: Tom Tom reminded me of the Tom Tom Club, so I did this post as a parody.  She laughed!

and it goes on!  (Apologies if I didn't mention you, but I should have– there are other great exchanges, for sure.)

It shows that while blogging can be a very self-absorbed activity at times, we still come together, and share, and inspire each other.

That is why VOX is my main blog.   That is why I am happy to be here.  And when I say I love my Neighborhood, well hey, look at those posts!  That's proof right there.  Thanks again!

(and thank you, LBeeeze, for asking for this response!  It turned out all right 🙂 )

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor? part 2 or Responsible Blogging

This particular QotD generated some interesting discussion around the Neighborhood, especially at Maya's place (go here and read if you haven't yet).  Rather than totally monopolize the discussion there, I figured I would put some more thoughts into a post of my own.

Sometimes, things suck not because the users are slapping up junk, but because… the interface is just lacking.  I mean, MySpace is just a web designer's nightmare.  Yes, I must sheepishly admit that I used MySpace for a time, mostly because friends and family were using it, at least at the time.  I can't count the number of pages there that I found hard to navigate because they were just a slapdash puzzle of HTML code.  It would appear that most users don't know HTML, CSS, and other web programming languages because there is a glut of "Pimp My MySpace" pages out there.  There are a few notable exceptions where a crafty webdesigner cracked the format, but most are just sprawling collages, i.e. very badly designed.

Maya mentioned eBlogger.  I have to admit I have not really checked them out, but apparently they go in another direction– you need to know HTML to get much working.

So a good bet for a blogging company is to put up an interface that is very easy to use.  These might be called Rich Text Editors (think of word processing software, like Word), or they might be called WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Geta few of you here will recognize that as a Flip Wilson quote) editors.  Either way, they hide the code and make posting easier.

As I said on Maya's post, despite the heavy rantings by LiveJournal users, Six Apart actually did right by LJ by bringing a nice, clean, user-friendly interface to the posting page, which is quite similar to what we have at VOX.  It used to be that you had to know HTML to get cool stuff on a post there– I don't think this has been enabled for comments/replies, however.

(I would like Six Apart to enable HTML posting here, but that's another story…)

And then there's user junk.

Now I am no great fan of MySpace, but I am a fan of Count Boogie, a musician that sings primarily about Tom and MySpace.  He is so goofy and likeable that I can forgive him his obsession for a site that encourages bad design, but, the banality of user-posted junk is not lost on him:

Count Boogie – Bulletin Whore

And it goes on.  We discussed abuse of Twitter, especially through the third-party service LoudTwitter.  Web comedienne LisaNova made a satirical video about Twitter whoring (which you might have seen elsewhere):

Seriously, people don't really care if you're posting on the bowl or about random babble that does not serve much purpose other than to indicate you are REALLY SUPER EXTROVERTED and/or bored.  I'll say it again– I think services like Twitter can attract some really chatty extroverted folk who, previously, were stymied by the flat, introverted nature of the Internet.  I mean, it used to be the domain of nerds, geeks, dorks, and dweebs, right?  (Still is, in some aspects… hee hee…)

Drama.  Okay, I'll admit that some of this comes with the territory.  When the term switched from "weblog" to "blog" to "social networking", which encompasses more than just writings, we were bound to get some of it.  But in its extremes, well– posting when you are:

  1. Shit-faced drunk
  2. High
  3. Having a nervous breakdown
  4. All of the above
  5. None of the above, but totally wallowing in self-pity
  6. All of the above (again)

Is never pretty, easy to swallow, or tasteful, for that matter.  To me, it would seem that you have fairly little regard for those who are reading your posts.

So Maya and I both mentioned gated communities.  This is why I like VOX and LiveJournal (well, when I can dodge the wankery at LJ)– because you can decide who sees what.  There are levels of trust implied.  You have posts that you don't mind the whole world seeing, posts that you want to restrict to just your immediate readers, and posts for those readers you trust to share things of a more personal nature.  LiveJournal has the distinct advantage that you can group those restrictions however you like.  But– most VOXers/VOXters here just make a different blog if they want to separate content.

Social networking is a wonderful thing.  It brings people together where physical distance, shyness, or other barriers might be in the way.  But, if you're not careful, you can still make yourself out to be a total asshole or ignoramus, too.

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