the tao of jaklumen

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

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Zero to Hero officially ended, but I’m still on the Journey

Zero to Hero officially ended when the month of January did.  I was late in getting started, and I just had too much difficulty churning out a post every day (there were thirty days in the challenge).  I posted when it felt right, and sometimes I decided to do maybe a little more than was asked for, especially if I wasn’t satisfied with previous results.

And then there were days where I just totally stalled out.

On February 4th, I got an email with a link to a quick survey.  I decided to answer those three questions, as well as the 10-question survey:

Just to summarize (if you’re too pressed for time to click to see the images full-size), the 3-question survey asked if Zero to Hero worked well for me, while the 10-question survey asked for more specific feedback (say, if WP did this challenge again in the future).

I decided to send Michelle Weber a quick note as well, since she works on the Photo challenges I’ve really been enjoying, too:

Hey Michelle,
I just wanted to give you a quick note of thanks for this Zero to Hero challenge, and for many engaging Daily Writing/Photo challenges.  I was especially inspired by your Cambodian prison photo for the Juxtaposition photo challenge… it looked a lot like a photo my daughter took when she was getting started in photography.
to which I got this lovely reply:

Aw, thanks so much for the note! I’m glad you enjoyed Zero to Hero, and that The Daily Post is helpful.

See you ‘round the photo challenge comments 🙂
I’ll keep working on Zero to Hero challenge elements, but I’ll devote a little more time to some other projects that are still kicking around my brain.  It’ll be a shifting gears of sorts.  What all that might be… well, you’ll just have to stay tuned, and see!

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A leap ahead – Zero to Hero Days 9-12

Day 9 assignment: Follow five more blogs and/or topics.

Day 10 assignment: add and customize two widgets.

Day 11 assignment: leave comments on at least three blogs that you’ve never commented on before.

Day 12 assignment: write a post that builds on one of the comments you left yesterday. Don’t forget to link to the other blog!

Now normally, I wouldn’t try to blow through four challenges like this.  I’ve got a ways to go to catch up, actually; the challenge is currently on Day 21.

But I had to reiterate just how much Come for Company (C4C) is blowin’ up my blog, as well as continually prompting me to do stuff that easily aces all of these challenges.

You remember this one, right?  I heard it's coming back for Valentine's Day

You remember this one, right? I heard it’s coming back for Valentine’s Day

It started with rarasaur’s Come on, baby, spend Christmas with me!  At the time, C4C was known as “Come For Christmas”.

Now, let me briefly point out that Rara is a blogging powerhouse and does a lot of promotional posts– this is by no means her first.  I found that even partly following her whirlwind, I discovered a LOT of new blogs.  (Yes, I haven’t completely followed EVERY blog she promoted, or I’d be drowning in blogs by now.)

As I noted on my reblog of her post, this was good timing as neither my parents nor my in-laws would be with us at Christmas.  Both Cimmy and I decided to volunteer, which meant we were added as Contributors to that blog.  (If Zero to Hero makes mention of contributing to a blog… there you go.)

RuleofStupid gave instructions on how to set up a widget with the badge he designed for the site.  You can’t see it now, because I have it set to Inactive.  And even though he expanded his idea to cover other holidays as well as Christmas, no, I won’t count this widget twice.

The next holiday was New Year’s, so, I wrote C4C For New Year’s? It’s On Like Donkey Kong!

The bloggers I have met (or got to know better) by way of C4C:

and yes, I have left comments on EACH and EVERY single one of those blogs.  Some more than one.  Some I am slowly catching up to.  Yes, I am following all of them.

So that’s Day 9 and Day 11 challenges down.

Calamity Rae asked for a Follow Blog widget specifically.  I’d never really thought that following by e-mail would be necessary, except, well, I think it was when she just had a self-hosted blog at the time.

Then I decided it’d be more efficient to combine that widget with the widget I made for Zero to Hero Day 2: What’s this blog about, anyways? Or rather, I decided to take the text of that widget I made for the Day 2 Challenge and put it into the Follow Blog widget.

That’s not counting other widgets that I already added to this blog when I started, like the Flickr one.  Or the image widget I had when speaker7 mentioned Wordle.  And that’s not counting the widgets I marked inactive as they didn’t fit with the new theme I picked for Starting the transformation (Zero to Hero Day 5).

That’s Day 10 challenge down several times over.

I’m not sure if I left a post on The Matticus Kingdom before, but when I read The Return of the Official Matticus Kingdom Tug-of-War, I just KNEW I had to get involved and declare my support for Marvel Comics.

I mean, c’mon… I have an ENTIRE category posts regarding The Silver Surfer and how the story of his journey from Norrin Radd to Herald of Galactus and his meeting with the Fantastic Four follows the Hero’s Journey TWICE OVER.  (And I haven’t even gotten to the Infinity Gauntlet series that crossed over all Marvel comics, let alone that featured Surfer very prominently!)  I have blogged about The Silver Surfer consistently, from LiveJournal, to VOX, to WordPress.

I will probably write more posts, and link to Cimmorene’s posts for Team Marvel…

So that’s Day 12 Challenge down, at least in part.

But I’m sure I’ve done the Day 12 challenge several times– one of the finer points in blogging etiquette that I learned from liliales when I was at VOX– if I make a comment that gets too long on another blog, it’s usually best to make a post on my own blog about it (and link back).  While I’ve met a few bloggers that are okay with long comments, I have read a few posts that I figured it would be good to write my own post in response.  And then there are a few posts that inspired me to dig down into my archive (both of VOX, and of WordPress, which is all here).  And I’ve done a LOT of that lately, actually.

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Further into the transformation (Zero to Hero Day 8)

The assignment for Day 8 is to create an About page, or revisit and improve the one you have.

This was no small feat!

First, I decided to hide all but one of the existing Pages I had written.

Two were about other blogs I work on.  I think promoting them will be covered better in a later challenge: Day Thirteen: Build a (Better) Blogroll.

One was about the last blogging platform I wrote at, and another blog that I contribute to for other bloggers that used that blogging platform, too.

The other three were all about this blog here, so it made sense to unite them into one: About the tao of jaklumen and the Hero’s Journey.  That page wasn’t easy to write– I decided to put up links to categories of blog posts I was especially pleased with.  But WordPress starts the Categories page with the newest post, ending with the oldest– and for categories having to do with the Hero’s Journey, it would be like reading a story backwards.

So for the Equilibrium and Silver Surfer categories, I had to sort through every post and include a link at the bottom indicating which post was next in the series.

I also used an image and a text link to each category.  It was hard to line up each image to each text link correctly.

It’s finally done… for now.  I had to revise things over 25 times.  I hope it’s worth it!  The Silver Surfer series will have some additions to it, but I need to get a copy of the Infinity Gauntlet graphic novel first.

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Window to the Future (Zero to Hero Day 6)

Day 6 Assignment: publish a post that includes a new-to-you element.

After promoting a stopmotion animation by my daughter, I didn’t have anything else I normally would have posted today, so I decided to try the Weekly Photo Challenge for this week:

This week, in a post created specifically for this challenge, share a photo with a window.

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Three shots from three of the last four holidays. (A-ha, you didn’t think New Year’s couldn’t have window dressing? Cimmorene thought otherwise!) Each a window to a different home. Three different photographers (jaklumen, Cimmorene, and Princess).

Bonus video from Cimmorene:

and finally, some poetry, something ENTIRELY new to any of my blogs:

I love you, my dear, every time I go
You have a way to let me know
No matter how upset I may be
I know when I return, I can always see
That signal waiting home for me
Welcoming me home with light so low
That sign so warm, that candle in the window.


Starting the transformation (Zero to Hero Day 5)

The Day 5 assignment for Zero to Hero is as follows: try out at least three other themes — even if you’re happy with the one you have. Include at least one you would never think of using.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am keeping things light on the writing today, dear readers, but I am taking a tip from my wife Cimmorene and including snapshots of the theme previews.

I’m taking a risk and going with an entirely new theme for a while– the last one in the slideshow, called Greyzed. It definitely seems to change the dynamics of how my posts look– some of it I very much like, and some things I did that fit the old Superhero theme do not fit as well for this one. It’s also cough butchier, bolder, more… masculine.

I welcome your feedback, even if you say you hate the new look. That’s okay. I’d like to take all your thoughts into consideration, as long as you don’t mind if I don’t necessarily go with them. Yes, note I’m not asking questions here. Please, step up, let me know.

One more quick word: Days 6-8 and Day 10 do include challenges that have to do with more Appearance customization, so I will write more about the Hero’s Journey stages (stage 11 according to Vogler) that involve transformation, resurrection on the Outer Journey and Final Attempts and last minute “dangers” on the Inner Journey.  Day 9 and Day 11 start going into exploring the blogosphere more deeply and commenting on other blogs, so then I will correlate stages concerning Return.

There’s still lots of work I plan to do, more changes, more customization (Superhero theme might be back!) and several projects that have been on the back burner for a while, so, stay the course with me, dear readers.

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The Community of WordPress (Zero to Hero Day 4)

I didn’t really give a full post for the Zero to Hero Day 4 challenge, so I am coming back to it.

Now the assignment reads:  follow five new topics in the Reader, and begin finding blogs (and bloggers) you love.

I wanted to write a bit first about how I came to WordPress, and started following bloggers, and how that’s evolved since I’ve been here.

The largest LJ community to date is Oh No They Didn’t, which focuses on celebrity gossip and pop culture. Some things never change, apparently.

My time at LiveJournal was mostly tied to pretty specific communities.  There was the LARP group (the Camarilla) that introduced me, and then there was the online BBS community I had come from (Grex/

LiveJournal did have gathering spots called “communities”.  I guess they were precursors to what WordPress accomplishes with collaborative blogging features, but they were a little more like forums.  It was a mixed bag– as I posted earlier, one devoted to the Homestar Runner website brought me a stalker.

It was simple, it was short-lived, and sometimes, it was cliquish

VOX had a similar concept called “Groups”.  What is now jak & Cimmy’s Journal Jar was a VOX group Cimmorene started.

VOX didn’t have collaborative tools, but I did get introduced to the concept there.   The first blog I was invited to collaborate on was We Heart Music, and Vu had some HTML wizardry to distinguish all the writers.  My understanding is he’s still doing that at their new home on TypePad.  (TypePad does not have collaboration tools.)

TechsWrite was another blog I was invited to collaborate at during my time at VOX, until Michelle lost interest in it (and got very busy with work again) and turned it over to me.  Actually, the blog was one of hers that she turned into a collaborative project after a discussion we had.

When VOX closed on September 30th, 2010, many of us scrambled to find a place to keep our blog archives.  TypePad (another platform from the parent company) and WordPress were among our options.  I decided to export to both platforms, but decided WordPress was the better option in the long run.

Some looked to Google Reader, which didn’t last too long after that

This closing DID split a lot of our community, and some of us that flocked to WordPress looked to feed readers to keep touch with friends that had gone elsewhere.  This is one reason why I don’t like WordPress’s native Reader feature: it’s specific to WordPress.  There are other reasons, which I’ll save for another time.

Also, the Reader never has been a big source of new blogs for me.  I guess it’s maybe been a starting point, but it’s never quite been something I remember.

The Freshly Pressed spotlight has brought my attention to some blogs, but, it’s difficult for me to really connect in the scores of comments that can bring.  I’ve never been Freshly Pressed (and those scores of comments would probably freak me out– honest, I don’t like THAT much attention).  I’ve gotten a [this is good] spotlight at VOX– again, another story for another time.

You remember this one, right?  I heard it's coming back for Valentine's Day

You remember this one, right? I heard it’s coming back for Valentine’s Day

What has really brought me into the community more is stuff like Come for Company (previously known as Company for Christmas), and haiku challenges at Rob’s Surf Report.  I reblogged To Madame Weebles. Love Garry Weinrib today as it introduced me to even more bloggers even now (I got to know Madame Weebles herself at C4C).  These resources just keep bringing more blogs to look at.

In a way, things have come full circle.  Some of these things have been like LiveJournal’s communities, and VOX’s Groups, and some things have been memes, sort of like the lemmings I knew at LiveJournal, and the memes I knew at VOX– but WordPress bloggers have done more with them.  They wrote more stories behind the answers, and engaged their readers just a little bit more.  5 Truths, 1 Lie prompted me to dig down into the archive and share some things with new readers.

Maybe I cheated a bit on this challenge– but honest, I’ve been exploring blogs a lot, pretty independently of it!

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Zero to Hero Day 2: What’s this blog about, anyways?

The day 2 assignment is to edit the blog title and tagline, and flesh them out more in a widget.

I didn’t really have a title when I started out on LiveJournal ten years ago.  When I slowly realized blogs were expected to have a name, I went with “Set sail with Cap’n Jak”, because I was amused by the idea of a pirate persona in the online game I was playing at the time (and still play, actually).

A short note...When I moved to seemingly greener pastures at VOX, I played around with titles for a while.  First it was “the eccentric world of jaklumen”, and then “the eclectic world of jaklumen”.  But a friend of mine at the time, who I call my Sifu-of-Sorts, introduced me to the Tao Te Ching, and as I was greatly moved by the text, I eventually settled on “the tao of jaklumen”.  As “tao” simply means “way”, I figured it summed up nicely the randomness I wrote about, and it seemed to flow nicely.  I decided to keep that title when I came to WordPress on VOX’s closing.

LiveJournal didn’t have taglines, but VOX did.  Now I was noticing my VOX “neighbors” changed up their titles and taglines– I was told it was fun to change them on a whim, to reflect your mood or whatnot.  So I experimented with that for a while.  I think they changed mostly on whatever headers I decided to use, which VOX called “banners”.  It was “push and pull with the wind” for a while here on WordPress, because I took up kiting as a relaxing hobby, and that sounded Taoist.

Then I read The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, and it really struck a chord with me.  I was amazed that an epic fantasy story I was working on with Cimmorene followed so much of the Monomyth pattern.  I literally said “whoa” over and over again.  The story was slow going, because some of it was therapy dealing with issues of abuse.  I figured maybe I should start blogging about how that idea affected me.  For a while, I made the tagline “Till all are one”, from the Transformers movie (the 2006 animated one, not Michael Bay’s stuff).

Today, with this challenge, I realized that while I thought that “Till all are one” was inspiring and profound, maybe it didn’t tell the passerby what this blog was about.  I thought back to a passage from the I Ching (Book of Changes):

“A place of transition has been reached, and free choice can enter in. A twofold possibility is presented to the great man: he can soar to the heights and play an important part in the world, or he can withdraw into solitude and develop himself. He can go the way of the hero or that of the holy sage who seeks seclusion.” — I Ching (Book of Changes), Wilheim and Baynes translation

Now, the I Ching is an ancient divination text, but I chose to read it in a philosophical way.  I thought that for the longest time, I had walked the path of the sage, being very buried in my books, brooding over endless possibilities of thought, sliding out on tangents in many conversations.  But there were signs that maybe I was meant for something more.  And if I was writing about the Hero’s Journey in particular, and thinking it had meaning to my life, would that not mean that I would need to walk the path of the hero?

I rewrote the tagline a few times, settling on “the path of the sage must become the path of the hero”.

Now the text widget describing this blog, well, I’d never really thought about it until today, either.  I thought maybe that made some sense, because I was getting a lot of visits to my “About jaklumen” page, but not many of them seemed to be sticking around and reading.  I had completely forgotten that many readers might be browsing through a lot of blogs and wanted a quick summary right on my blog’s front page.  I just didn’t think of that, because well, I’m an introverted person and I got used to meeting bloggers by way of interaction.

Oh, and Calamity Rae asked me about a follow by e-mail widget.  She’s self-hosted at the moment, and so I hadn’t really thought about that– I assumed everyone just clicked on “Follow” on the toolbar (which self-hosted doesn’t have apparently) or subscribed to blog feeds in a feed reader.  So, I added that widget today.

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Zero to Hero Day 1: Enter the jaklumen

The day 1 assignment is to write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post.

Who am I?

That’s a fun question.  I go by the name “jaklumen” on the Internet.  It’s actually unique, so if you look up that username, I can pretty much assure you that the search hits refer to something I wrote.

Isn’t it safer to go by more than one pseudonym?

I have had a few online stalkers and harassers, and it seemed to me that they targeted me for reasons other than an easy-to-follow electronic trail.  Sure, it might make me easy to track, but I’d rather people know that “jaklumen” is really me, which you might not get trying to search me for my real name.  What you see online is generally what you’ll get in person.

How did you come up with “jaklumen”?

“Lumen” is the first track on Mannheim Steamroller’s album Fresh Aire V.  It became the first psuedonym I used on the Internet around 1994 or so, after I decided to use something other than initials, or my real names with an initial; which were standard practices at the time.

I’m a gamer, and I was a gamer when the term was more associated with pen-and-paper RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons than the pixelated console and computer variety.  My long-time Game/Dungeon Master introduced me to a superhero RPG based on the GURPS system called SuperGURPS and asked me to make a character.  I was a fan of Paul Hogan’s Crocodile Dundee character and thought it’d be fun to base a superhero off that concept.  Besides, I couldn’t think of any particular Aussie superheroes in the comic books!  My friend wanted a name and wasn’t satisfied with just “Lumen”.  Off the cuff, I thought that Jack would be a common enough name for an Aussie (no, not Mick or Bruce!) and went with that.  Besides, I have a grandfather named Jack, and the combination sounded good.

I decided to bring the name online and it got shortened to “jaklumen” over time.  Actually, though, I’ve still used “Jack Lumen” online, such as Google’s recent insistence on “real” names.

Why am I here?

I started blogging in 2003, and WordPress is my third blogging platform.  If you’re wondering how and why I started blogging, see the A 10-year Blogging Journey: The beginning and A 10-year Blogging Journey: The hidden beginning posts.  (Please be aware that I talk about issues of abuse in the “hidden beginning” post.)

I started at LiveJournal, which, best I can understand, was initially aimed at writer’s circles and cultures (including geek culture and gaming) that intersected with writing.  I was drawn in by the Camarilla (now known as Mind’s Eye Society, I believe), who did Live Action Role Play (LARP) in White Wolf Gaming Studio’s World of Darkness setting.  A lot of Camarilla members were using LiveJournal as diaries/journals for their characters, as well as themselves.

What do I hope to accomplish with the Zero to Hero challenge?

Well, I do enjoy writing– supposedly, I’m good at it.  I’d like to connect more with the WordPress community and see if there are other bloggers that are interested in what I have to say… and to find bloggers with similar ideas.  The possibilities are pretty endless, I think.

That’s it, dear readers!

(Yep, that’s an anachronistic expression I use a lot in my blogging.  It’s probably one of the few things I admire about Victorian culture, that phrase in literature from that period.)
I'm a Zero to Hero Blogger!
If you’d like to learn about the Zero to Hero blogging challenge, click here or click on the badge in my sidebar.

Please send my wife and her blog some Hero love, too: The Dragon’s Lair Goes Zero to Hero

and thank you once again to Flamingo Dancer for letting me know about this challenge.

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Seizing the Sword/A New Call to Adventure

the tao of jaklumen is taking the Zero to Hero’s Journey


Stay Tuned


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