Well, this is embarrassing. Also added archived posts.

(It seems I have a lot of blog posts about how I don’t blog. Oh well, I can handle it.)

So, I posted a little over a year and half ago that 2013 was the Year of Living Creatively and the Year of Finishing Things.

Fail! #fail

I didn’t do it. I watched a lot of TV, though. That was cool. I guess that I wasn’t that interested in creating, after all. Not enough to break me from my laziness. I’m trying not to judge myself.

On the other hand, I am doing well in my new job. (Oh yeah, by the way, I started a new job in 2013. I didn’t mention that in this blog, because I haven’t mentioned anything in this blog.) I’m sure I’ll talk more about my job and the interesting challenges and opportunities it presents later. I’m hesitant to talk about it too much because my employers like to keep a low profile and much of the work I do is confidential. But I can talk about things in a general sense and I can talk about the industry, which I will. I promise. Maybe. We’ll see.

I’ve also had lots of interesting interactions on Facebook. An argument can be made, and has been made, that Facebook (and Twitter) has made blogs irrelevant. People can communicate their ideas and share stories with friends much easier in the “micro-blogging” style these platforms provide. I agree, up to a point. What is lacking in the Facebook platform is the ability effectively present long-form articles and journals. In that sense, I don’t think blogs will be leaving the scene anytime soon. My hope is that the micro-blogging/social media platforms will weed out the (let’s call them) non-storytellers from the blogosphere. It’s sounds kind of arrogant or cocky, and maybe it is, but if all you have to say is what you did today, you have a couple of stinging political comments (without analysis), or you just want to share what somebody else said, then I think social media is the place for you. If you want to go in-depth, talk about the issues, engage in discussion, or have some expression of ideas that won’t fit in a Facebook update, then a blog is the right tool for you. I plan to continue to be active in social media, as well as blog. Again, we’ll see. I hope so. I like to write!

Speaking of writing/blogging, I discovered that my old TypePad account is still active. I thought that I had deleted it, but nope! For a period of time, mostly in 2007, I was very active. I blogged at least weekly, often more. I enjoyed reading my posts and putting looking through those particular eyes again. This was a period where I my political point of view was emerging and I starting challenging the conservative perspective that framed most of opinions and was becoming more liberal. At that time, I was also very active on some other websites with strong communities, “Making Light” in particular. My blog was actually trending for a period of time. I’ve imported those posts into this blog, so check out the archives, if you’re interested.

I’m not going to declare the rest of 2015 as the Year of Something Something, but I am feeling like I have something to say again. Turns out, I’m feminist. I didn’t know. I want to talk about that. I also want to talk about policy and economics and the law of unintended consequences. I will be promoting this blog on social media and other sites. I’m hoping to get some conversations going. That would be cool.

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I finally got an iPad!

Seriously, I’ve been wanting one ever since they first announced, but I’ve talked myself out of buying one every year. They are just too dang expensive.

They were to dang expensive, that is. This wonderful combination of a great job with great pay, along with a great offer from AT&T, means that this iPad I just purchased are easily within my working budget.

I’m looking forward to playing with it and finding new ways to work with it. I’ve already loaded my blog software and even composed this entry using it.

I’ve loaded some music apps, but I plan to purchase GarageBand and other programs, as well as Photoshop, to maximize my creative possibilities. I will also be loading office apps, like Pages, and try to be productive as well as creative.

Okay, I’m off to play with my iPad and spend some money in the App Store. Be good!

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Resolutions 2013

Like most people that I know, I make New Year’s Resolutions every year. And, like most people that I know, I fail to keep them. Every year.

What bothers me about this is that these “resolutions” are usually things that I *want* to do. I mean, sometimes my resolutions are about what I think I *should* do, but usually they are about what I want personally, yet I still fail.

I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve decided, for myself anyway, that I fail because I’ve turned my desires and ambitions into burdens, tests that I must pass in order to feel good about myself. I think, in some way, my body and mind know that my value as person is not based on whether or not I achieve my goals and *I* do not let *myself* achieve them.

So, for 2013, I’m changing things up. Instead of making “resolutions,” I’ve decided to “give myself permission” to do wonderful things! I want to do wonderful, awesome, creative things, and the only one stopping me is me, so I’m giving myself a break and setting myself free to be, well, me.

I’ve structured my goals and ambitions, because that is who I am, but I don’t have to feel like I’ve failed if I don’t meet them, yet I can still celebrate when I succeed (and I have criteria to judge whether or not I’ve succeeded).

My two big goals for 2013 are 1) to unleash my creativity and 2) to finish projects.

2013: The Year of Living Creatively

My desire is to create something every day: write a song, a short story or scene, take a photograph, create a poster, draw a picture, make a video, etc.

There are so many creative outlets that call to me, yet I rarely allow myself the time to pursue them fully. Yes,I am a good musician and a decent writer, but I want to be so much more. I believe that “so much more” can be accomplished if I practice and “do”. (More on that later).

I dug out one of my old journals and I intend to use it as a scrapbook and log book for all of the things I create every day. It’s only a hundred pages or so, so it won’t be enough if I actually do create something every day, but how great would it be if I filled it up and had to buy another one because I was making so much art?! “Pretty great” is the answer to that question. I would also accept “Freaking Awesome” or even “Nice!” as correct.

Ironically (or poetically), I did not “create” anything yesterday, January 1st. You would think that I would want to start this “Year of Living Creatively” off with an early success. You’d be right to think that, except I spent yesterday hanging out and playing with my favorite people and dogs, even going to the park for a while. I don’t get to do this all the time and if I could, I would. I will always give myself permission to experience tremendous joy and pleasure with the people I love, even at the expense of my art.

Lucky break for me: I’ve talked to myself and decided that it counts if create something “for” every day. For example, this blog entry counts as a “creation” and I’ve deemed it to be for yesterday (which is when I intended to write and post it, anyway). I plan to create something else today, so I’ll still be on track to bring 365 new things to the world this year. Which leads me to:

2013: The Year of Finishing Things

I’m not a great finisher, I can admit that. I work very hard and smart on projects, at work and at home, and I have a lot of energy and motivation at the beginning, but tend to abandon them in the middle, or more often than not, right before they are finished. I get distracted or lose interest. I don’t know why. Again, the obstacle is me. I’ve given myself permission to finish the things that I start.

I’m inspired by the Bre Pettis’s “Cult of Done Manifesto”. I, too, want to “make things”. I really like the part “If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it”. During this year, I plan to accomplish and create more than just small ideas that I can create in a day, I want to make big things, too! I’ll be making notes and getting inspiration for bigger, longer projects, and working on them. Yet, I will keep this rule in mind, if it takes more than a week to get started on a project, I’ll abandon it. There are lots of other ideas than can be realized and if an abandoned project pops back up and the energy and motivation is there, it can still be realized.

Where this is all heading

I have a day job and (try) to create things at night and on the weekends, but what I want to do is create things all day long. Or, at least, create things during the day and spend time with friends and family in the evenings and weekends. The problem is that I do not have the skills to make it in any professional creative field. I’m decent to pretty good in a great many things, but not at level that would allow me to support myself financially, let alone a family. My intent with this year is to change that. Before I am forty years old, I want to have the option to pursue a creative career, or several creative careers all working together to allow me to be both fulfilled and secure. I believe that my creative skills will only get better the more I use them and that if I explore many different forms of expression, I will find one or some that fit me and talents the best.

This will, of course, entail a great deal of sacrifice. I’ve already sacrificed a lot in pursuit of art and music, but not enough. I’ve already cancelled my cable TV, and will, if I want to succeed, be spending less time on Facebook and playing video games. My hope is that, even the entertainment that I allow myself will give me inspiration and ideas for my own development and expression. Also, books books books. I will be reading everything I can get my hands on, because that is how I learn and it makes my brain happy. I will dive into my Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator books. I will be hanging out with Neil Gaiman, John Scalzi, and Stephen King (and stealing as much as I can from them). I’m saving up for a higher-quality digital camera and a better digitizer for my computer. I’ve registered some more domain names, so that when I’m ready to strike out on my own, business-wise, I will have them in place.

2013 is going to be a great year. We survived the Mayan Apocalypse, things can only go up from here. For my part, I am going to work hard to be who I am. I think that’s the best thing I can do for myself and the world.

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Launching CosmicDogOnline (for real this time) (maybe)

I am not a good blogger (clearly), but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be.

I have a wide range of technical skills and I am a professional writer (for what that’s worth), so this blogging thing is definitely something that I can do. That being said, I have no expectation that this blog/site will make me any money, so this will be more of a “labor of love”.

I would like to build my freelance writing and web development businesses, though.

To further that goal, I am re-investing my time and energy into learning a wider range of professional software (namely, the Adobe Creative Cloud suite) as well as digger deeper into technical and web writing.

I’ve picked up a couple of books to help me along:  “Photoshop CS6 – The Missing Manual” by Lesa Snider; and “Letting Go of the Words – Writing Web Content that Works” by Janice (Ginny) Redish. I will be studying and outlining these books as I go through them, as well as putting the lessons I learn into practice. I will post reviews of these books once I finish them.

I’ve landed a couple of website jobs, which is good. However, I’m rusty, hence all of the studying. I’ll be working hard to make sure everything comes together well, both for my benefits as well as my clients’.

I’ll keep you updated. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a lot of work to do!

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I suck at blogging

There, I said it. Now you don’t have to.

This isn’t unusual. Most people suck at blogging, especially people with blogs. However, I pay for this site every month and I don’t use it. That’s bad.

What makes it worse is that I actually have interesting things to say. My life, especially since I’ve launched this site, is pretty amazing.

In the last few months, I’ve had friendships blow up, became homeless, and slept in my car. A very loving and dear friend passed away. My buddy and I successfully launched a new website celebrating geek culture that is on right on track and is gaining a following.

I dropped out of school…again.

I ended up getting a job that was so physically difficult, that all I could do when I got home every day was watch T.V. and sleep.

Then, I got hired by the largest, most successful business in my city as a technical writer, a career I’ve been pursuing for years.

It’s been an amazing trip, and I still have a lot of interesting challenges coming up. I’m still (technically) homeless, I’ve been house-sitting for some friends for the last five weeks or so, but that will end in August. So, I will be looking for someplace to live…again.

On the plus side, in addition to this awesome writing job, I’m starting to sing really well. I actually enjoy listening to myself these days, I was beginning to think that I never would.

Also, I got a haircut today and I look great!

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Homeless

I was going to wait awhile to talk about this, but now seems like a good time. I’ve decided to be homeless. Well, it wasn’t one hundred percent my idea, I’ve been out of work for over two years, excepting the occasional writing gig. For the last few months, I’ve been staying with friends, but, over time, that has become less and less comfortable for all of us. It’s not natural for an unrelated, single adult to join a household with a family with children. So, I moved out.

I had considered this option before, many years ago when I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you’ve ever lived in The City, you know how expensive rents can be. I had a good paying job and still had a hard time paying bills every month. I figured, hey, I’ve got a gym membership (for showers) and a car, I could be homeless and do all right. That ended up not happening, the idea of living on the streets or even in my car in Bay Area was too scary. I’m sure I would not have survived. That was over fourteen years ago, but the thought never left me.

I am now living in the California Central Valley, a much kinder, gentler place to stay in general. Also cheaper. Spring is right around the corner, so I figured if I was ever going to test my ‘homeless is awesome’ theory, now would be the time.

Now, I am lucky and blessed that I am not, yet, in the same financial position as most of the homeless people I’ve met. I receive Student Financial Aid – I am taking a full load of classes online. It’s not a lot of money, certainly not enough for rent and utilities, but it’s enough to get me through until I can find a part-time job or land some more writing and/or web design gigs. I also have some things in storage that I can sell if I get desperate, but I hope it doesn’t go that far.

Another thing that sets me apart from many of the other people on the street is that I have friends and family that I can stay with if I choose. So, this homeless thing is, ultimately, my choice.

I’ve taken a few steps to make this easy on myself. One thing that I’ve rented a storage space so I don’t have to keep everything in my car (not that I could). I also have a gym membership, so I can take showers everyday, which is very important if I want to find and keep a job. Last, but certainly not least, I got mobile 4G broadband Internet service from Clear Wireless. This is important for my sanity. I’ve gotten used to working in Starbucks and bookstores to utilize their WiFi service, but often I want to work alone. When I’m not working on school or other writing/web projects, I like to relax and watch shows and movies on Hulu and NetFlix. So, yeah, I need Internet.

I also have a power inverter laying around, so I can plug my laptop into my car’s power supply. Watching Internet TV as I fall asleep has helped deal me deal with the loneliness and fear of sleeping in my car.

Another positive of this experience is that since I go to the gym everyday to shower, I might as well work out. Since I started this journey, I’ve worked out at least one hour everyday. This is very good news since I am about 80 to 100 pounds overweight. I expect that before long, I’ll be under 200 pounds.

It’s not all roses, though. For one thing, it’s very lonely. I can’t exactly invite someone over to hang out. Not to mention that I just came from a home that was full of people. The quietness is hard to deal with. Like I said, TV helps.

Worse than the quietness is the noise. There are a lot of scary noises on the street at night and I feel very vulnerable knowing that people can just look in my windows and see me sleeping. I also worry about the police waking me up and questioning me. I deal with this by parking in fairly active parking lots of places that are open all night, like the gym. I’ve also parked in front of my old church. It’s not necessarily such a safe neighborhood, but it makes me feel safe.

Another pressing issue is the price of gas. It’s currently @$4.00/gallon. I have to be very careful about my movements throughout the day. If I stay in one place for very long, I risk being exposed as being a vagrant and asked to leave or, worse, entered into the “system”. This will become less of an issue once I get a part-time job or a few paying writing/web gigs.

Honestly, sleeping in my car isn’t as bad as it may seem, but it’s not very comfortable, either. So far, I’m dealing with it okay. Working out everyday helps. We’ll see how it works long-term.

My plan is to do this for forty days, until Easter. It vaguely corresponds with Lent, but I am not Catholic and I picked my own forty days. If I adapt well to this situation, it may well become my lifestyle for the foreseeable future. My imagination keeps leaping to the thought of how much I can save and pay off my debts if I got a good paying full-time job and didn’t have to pay rent for a few years.

I’m hoping that at some point I can get a pickup truck with a camper shell. That would be the life!

Please stay tuned to this space as I will be writing about my journey as well as writing general blog-type stuff. Because, you know, what else am I going to do?

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iPad

Apple will start selling the iPad 2 on Friday and I want one, of course, but I can’t really afford it. They start at $500, just like the 1st Gen iPad did. The problem is, the more I look at my life and how I work, I realized that I *need* one. Maybe not an iPad 2, with all it’s sexiness, but an iPad for sure.

I work out of coffee houses and bookstores, any place that has WiFi, so that I am not stuck at home all day. Well lugging around my laptop, along with my books and notepads, is really taking a toll on my body. Plus, I occasionally have issues finding an electrical outlet. My laptop is over two years old, so I don’t get the greatest battery life.

I was looking at the various devices out there, netbooks and the such, but nothing really touches the iPad when it comes to the features I need. The ten hour battery life is the main selling point. I can write all day, anywhere I want, even in the park, and not have to worry about plugging in. It’s thin and light, even the 1st Gen is only .5 inch thick and weighs 1.5 pounds.

The main barrier is price. However, Apple is selling their stock of 1st Gen iPads for $100 off, plus they are offering factory refurbs for even less than that. I’m thinking, that as long as I stay within my actual educational and business needs, along with some church stuff, the 16GB WiFi only model will work just fine for me. I can get that from Apple for $350 – $400, about the price of a netbook that has only about a third of the battery life.

My guess is that I’m going to buy one when my financial aid comes in, I’ve been thinking about it too much. I just need to get a part time job, or something, for the rest of the semester and then, hopefully, get either a full time job this summer, or start landing some good writing and web design gigs.

I wonder what I’ll end up getting. My nature is not very inclined to waiting, so if the iPad 2 is not immediately available, it will make it easier for me to just get a 1st Gen, which, again, is really all I need. I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t need all of the new features on the iPad 2, as much as might want them. If I was bringing in a lot more money, then of course I would go for the best one, but right now that just isn’t responsible.

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Welcome to CosmicDog Online

For many years, I used my TypePad blog for both personal and business activities. It worked well enough, since freelance writing and editing jobs were not high on my priority list and the bulk of my online time was devoted to personal expression. Recently, however, through my association with a new website called The Geekery Online, I’ve discovered that I am quite good at this work and rather enjoy it. So, I am expanding my business and marketing plans. Hence, the all new CosmicDog Online.

This space will be used to highlight and promote all of my creative and technical skills and passions, mostly involving writing, editing, web design, and music. You can expect to see new articles and short fiction, perhaps even some longer works of fiction. There will be examples of elegant web design, especially custom WordPress themes. And, of course, there will be new music.

This day and age, it’s important to be versatile and it’s good to be one’s own boss.

I hope you enjoy what I will be bringing forth in the coming weeks and months. I especially hope that you enjoy it enough to hire me for a project or two. I would like that very much.

So, again, welcome to CosmicDog Online!

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‘Be In Love With Your Life’, or ‘How I Spent My Spring and Summer’

Jack Kerouac said "Be in love with your life." Jesus (as in, The Christ) said "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (John 12:25 NIV)

These two things seem to be diametrically opposed. If that were the case, I'd say go with Jesus on this one. However, I don't think they are opposed at all, or at least they don't *have to* be.

So, you may be asking, "Oh wise and aware CosmicDog, how can I both love and hate my life?" Well, let me tell ya.

This year, I entered into the first 'serious' relationship of my life.  I am 36 years old, I am what you would call a "late bloomer". I met a woman, developed a great friendship and the two us clearly connected at very deep level, so we started dating.  Our dating relationship was full of passion and humor, and we ended up getting engaged.  Then things started to fall apart, we began to pull away from one another. Eventually we put the engagement on hold, and, after a while, broke up.  All in about 8 months, 2 months as friends and 6 months as a couple.  In this time period, I acheived the greatest "highs" in my life and the greatest "lows".  This is as vital a snapshot of my life that I can think of.

How do I examine this in light of Jesus' words?  I can choose to "love" this life I've been given, try to hold on or protect what I perceive as "mine".  I can choose to allow the hurt I feel at the ending of this relationship to dominate my mind and "love" my life so much that I "hate" God or my ex-girlfriend for not meeting my expectations, for disappointing me in my 'oh so precious' life. Or I can choose to "hate" my life by holding the things that have been given me lightly.  I can choose to understand that this is not end-all, be-all of existence, or why I was created in the first place, but to understand that my experiences, both good and bad, are in my life to shape me into the character of Christ that the Lord has already created and worked inside of me.  I don't love my life on this earth so much that I am not looking forward to next one.  Indeed, I am so anxious for Heaven, that, yes, you can say that I hate my life.  But I don't, not really.

Here's where Kerouac comes in. "Be in love with your life." This life, all life, *life*, is a gift from God, for His Glory and our good.  Every peak and valley is an opportunity to see the hand and care of God in my life. I have rich, amazing friendships. I've suffered devastating loss and heartache.  Through it all, the Lord has been with me, teaching me, loving on me.  I love this life the Lord has given me.  I'm in love with the Creator and He loves me through His creation.  It's good, the Lord in the beginning…and it still is.

So, be in love with your life.  Don't take anything for granted.  Feel and love deeply.  Take the time explore the external and the internal.  Meditate on life, the universe, and everything and give thanks to God for His goodness.  But don't claim it as your own.  Don't identify with this life so much that you forget that it belongs to God and not to you.

And I think that's all I have to say about that.

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Not up to posting anything today

My stomach and head hurt, I may be sick or I may have just eaten the wrong thing.  Either way, I don't feel like sitting at my computer or tapping away at my phone tonight.

And that's all I have to say about that.

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