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!

I'm a Zero to Hero Blogger!

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Zero to Hero Day 28: Build on Popular Content

Today I’m guest posting at Cimmy’s blog The Dragon’s Lair to help with a Zero to Hero challenge.

Comments are closed at the tao of jaklumen… come and give Cimmorene your support!

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The Dragon's Lair

I can’t believe there were no suggestions at all.  

Wait a minute, what’s this?

“Get jak to answer the question about you.”  

You got it.  Take it away, jak!  

Thanks, Cimmy!

The assignment for day 28 is to find the post that has received the most views, likes, or comments, and write a related follow-up post.

I suggested to Cimmorene that I could write a “he said” follow-up to the Day 27 question:

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from the person you’re the closest to?

Cimmy taught me to love myself more, and to smile more often.

(The character Cimmy is portraying is Scene from the Fine Bros. MyMusic YouTube show)
-She is sweet to a fault, always showing kindness and love

I love you, my dear, every time I go
You have a way to let me know
No matter how upset I…

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Hero pulls a zero on Blogroll challenge so far

The assignment for Day 13 is to create, edit, or expand a blogroll.

I have to admit, this challenge has got me stumped and stalled cold.

There’s a number of ways this challenge could be interpreted.

I have two solutions that I’m intending to move forward with.  The first part is to build something that will promote the other blogs I work on, especially the one that I work on with Cimmorene.  The second part is to build something more in the vein of what I’ve noticed a blogroll to be.

Oh, and this draft has stalled for about a half-day, too.  But I did get an awesome post rolled out today, which helps Cimmorene with Day 28 and gets 27 done for me.  Will reblog that in a moment…

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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.

I'm a Zero to Hero Blogger!

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Stay tuned: Zero to Hero Day 8

Dear readers,

Day 8 is concerning the About page… “About jaklumen” badly needs a revamp, as I’ve already gotten some feedback that readers aren’t clear about what my blog is about (although I’ve gotten 13 Likes on it).  I’m having a really difficult time completely this part of the challenge right now, but I’ve got a draft in the works and it’ll be coming soon.

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Another retrospection (Zero to Hero Day 7)

The Day 7 assignment is create and upload a simple header, or test out a few different backgrounds.

Unfortunately, the Greyzed theme doesn’t allow headers or backgrounds.

So, I’ll take a look back at some of the headers I’ve used over the years.  LiveJournal didn’t allow for any that I can recall at the time I was there.  (If they did, it cost money.)  VOX called them “banners”.

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There was a group at VOX totally devoted to “banners”, as they were called.  Various artists contributed pictures already cropped to VOX’s standard of 940 X 200 pixels.  They were free for anyone to use, but I often edited them a bit to make them my own.  When I came over to WordPress, I reused some of them and rescaled them for whatever WP theme I was using. (EDIT Jan 21, 2014: Please note that the first three headers, i.e., the ones that don’t have captions, are derivative work. The others are taken from photos I have done.)

Now, I don’t recall LiveJournal offering backgrounds for free, either.  They weren’t available on VOX, for certain.  As a general rule, while VOX was designed to be user-friendly and easy to use, it was actually REALLY HARD to customize it (I’m saying this now so hopefully I remember not to repeat it too many times on future Zero to Hero challenge days).

This was the last background I used here at WordPress:

Heroesjourneyand since it wasn’t very visible, I tried to spread it out into a tile pattern.  I see now that it was visually distracting after switching to the Greyzed theme from Superhero, and some of you dear readers confirmed that.

Have you tried different headers and backgrounds on your blog?  Are there any favorites you had?  Would you like jak to stop asking silly questions because you’re happy with the header and background you have?

I'm a Zero to Hero Blogger!

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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.


Journey out of the darkness, into the light (Blog For Mental Health 2014)

First of all, a shout-out to Calamity Rae for letting me know about this: Thank you, and thank you again for all your support!

Next, an introduction to the Blog for Mental Health project:

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”

original art by Piper Macenzie - All Rights Reserved

Want to learn more about Blogging for Mental Health 2014? Click on the image above.

This is an important issue to me because it’s something I deal with personally: I have a diagnosis of bipolar II mood disorder.  I also was in treatment recently for PTSD– although I haven’t been formally diagnosed with complex PTSD, I think that’s a more fitting paradigm and I appreciate Rae once again for bringing my attention to this issue.

The stigma doesn’t need to continue.  There are plenty of us who are managing much like anyone would with any other health condition.  Yet I know what it’s like to be stigmatized, and I really did experience such at the last blogging platform I was on– so I’d like to help bring attention to this cause.

Other shout-outs:

stephrogers – this badge immediately reminded me of her, as she sees great  significance in the rainbow as an expression of personality and essence of being.  (It’s more than just a political-social statement.)  We had a great discussion on Color Personality Theory.

Aussa Lorens – she works in a psych ward, and she’s keepin’ it real.  No, really, the first comment I made on her blog was saying that she IS telling things realistically as I’ve been there.  She still describes patients with dignity and respect– it’s some of her co-workers that are the real cray cray 😉  If you haven’t read her grand stories yet, head on over!

samara may be over in NYC, but she’s still mah hip-hop homegirl, and shown much love to Cimmy and I.  She gets this issue for a number of reasons– her Freshly Pressed IS THERE A PROBLEM IN YOUR FAMILY? is but one of them.

Le Clown and the Black Box Warnings blog– Eric cares.  Le Clown’s got swagger, but Eric is for real and he cares.  Thanks again, man.  UPDATE: Feb. 7, 2014: Eric Robillard has been outed for narcissistic and sexually predatory behavior.  Although I am upset that I had been deceived, there has been some really good posts that came about because of things coming to light.

Death of Le clown: A case study in the pathology of a predator by at Life of A Fallen Angel is an excellent breakdown of how human predators work, and I highly recommend reading it.

There are so many others that it would take me a long time to list them all– if you think I might be referring to you, I probably am!

Dealing with mental illness is a Hero’s Journey.  Help me bring this issue out of the darkness and into the light.  Things are better than they once were (if the stories aren’t mine, they’ve been told to me by others) but there’s still a lot of road to travel yet.

I think this post actually qualifies for today’s Day 12 challenge for Zero to Hero– From comment to blog post — be inspired by the community— but I will come back to where I left off, and probably come back to it again.

EDIT: Just a quick bonus, here’s our family parody on the Double Rainbow viral video:

 I'm a Zero to Hero Blogger!


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.

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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.

I'm a Zero to Hero Blogger!