Making Me Happy: Words

This was a hard week. Not only did I have to return to work after being off for two weeks, I had to do it with a nasty head cold that turned into a chest cold. Definitely not an easy week to be happy. But there were some things that helped mitigate the bad.

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Making Me Happy (x2): Spokane, Portland, and Seattle

Well, I have discovered just how difficult it can be to write something, even something short, when you are traveling fast and far. The massive head and chest cold that started in on me the night of the 27th didn’t make it any easier. When I wasn’t traveling, I was busy trying to just breath. C’est la vie. So this will cover two weeks of what was making me happy, and I’ll try to hold down the extraneous sidelines so it isn’t too massive a post.

So for the week ending August 23, there were a couple of possibilities. Hiking around the Devils Tower in Wyoming was certainly a highlight, beautiful views and nice exercise combine nicely there. I hope to get back and explore some of the longer trails that show more of the geological makeup of the area.

But it can’t really compete with the Sasquan Worldcon in Spokane. 5 days of nerds and geeks doing their thing together, something I have missed since Marcon in May of 2014. Had a couple of nice conversations at parties, spent way too much money on books (Well, not too much, but more than was wise from a budgetary POV.), enjoyed the various Cosplay folks wandering around, and attended some interesting panels. It was the first Worldcon I haven’t worked at for years, and it was a lot of fun.

The highlights for me revolved around Laura Ann Gilman (@LAGilman). I have been buying and reading her books for years, urban fantasy, straight fantasy, mystery, and went to her reading for her newest book, an Old West Fantasy. Or rather, the Devil’s West. Silver On The Road is the start of her Devil’s West series, and the reading showed it was off to a great start. Enough so that I went to her Kaffee Klatch and enjoyed a nice sit down with her and 9 of her other fans.

There were things that weren’t great during the con, both personally and part of the convention, but it was definitely a good thing, and it made me happy that I decided to go.

For the week ending August 30, it was much easier to decide what made me happy. Driving down to Oregon and doing some hiking around Mt. Hood was nice, and beautiful. Driving up I5 and stopping in to explore around Mt Saint Helens was too short, as was the time I had to wander around exploring Seattle. In the normal course of my life, those would make for a very nice week of making me happy. But for this week, a person beat them out handily.

I wrote a short review of Felicia Day’s (@feliciaday) book, You’re Never Weird On the Internet (Almost) when it came out, and was somewhat enthusiastic about it. And I was disappointed that her signing tour wasn’t going to be anywhere near where I lived, and not close enough to drive on my limited time off. (And my time off right then was even more limited than normal.) Then I realized that she was going to be in the Pacific Northwest at the same time I was, if I actually attended Sasquan in Spokane.

So I drove the 400 miles to Portland from Spokane on Sunday and Monday to attend her Beaverton signing at the Powells there. (It isn’t actually 400 miles if you go directly. I made some detours, which is why I was an hour late for the start of the signing. But Mt. Hood is beautiful and worth the time.) I was next to last in line to get my books signed, as gifts for a couple of young ladies I know. And Ms. Day was cheerful and pleasant, despite having signed literally thousands of books and talking to hundreds of people. The only disappointing thing about the even was the fact it was just a signing, she did not speak or do an interview.

That made Wednesday night even better. I had enjoyed the side trip to Saint Helens, and wandering Seattle during the day Wednesday. But the highlight was attending Ms. Day’s interview that night at the University Temple United Methodist¬† Church. Tracey Conway (@ShockedTracey) did the interview, and while it mostly focused on things that Ms. Day has mentioned before, it was fun and interesting. Then it was standing in line again to get my copy of the book signed. It didn’t take as long for me to reach her this time, as I wasn’t near the end. And I even got her to say she liked me, it just took some dark chocolate as a gift.

So there are two weeks of what made me happy. Posted late, but at least I got them up. I’m going to try hard to do better this week, but just finding what to write about will probably make things a bit more difficult, since I am back to work, with this cold dragging me down.

Making Me Happy: Outta Here

So this will be a short post, because I need to get on the road to Devil’s Tower. And because it is an easy decision about what is making me happy this week.

Well, not that easy. It was a very full week for happy-making things, which is always good.

Felicia Day’s (@feliciaday) new book, You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost), came out Tuesday, and it was (and is) great. You should definitely go buy and read it. Or borrow and read it if necessary, the reading it is the important part.

The Doubleclicks’ (@TheDoubleclicks) new album, President Snakes, was also released Tuesday, and you should go get it too. Because they are talented and fun and subversive as hell on it. And the best song on it is Bad Memories. Some of which it evoked.

Then Marian Call (@mariancall) got into the act and released her new album, Marian Call Sings The Classics, Vol II. And launched a new Kickstarter for her next studio album. And you should definitely buy and back those two things, respectively.

Kind of an expensive week too, now that I look at it.

But as good as this things were, the thing that made me happiest happened Saturday afternoon. I started my car and headed for the PNW, on 2 weeks of vacation. It’s amazing how much stress and tension disappeared one I got past Chicago.

Now I’m going to go explore a National Memorial in Wyoming. More happy in the making.

Okay, this is really late. But in my defense, Devils Tower.


A Busy Week for Marian Call

I was expecting this, but not so soon. – Tombstone in AZ

I knew Marian Call (@mariancall) was almost done with her second album of cover songs. And I knew that she was anxious to get it out to the backers of her first Kickstarter so she could be done with it, and could start her new Kickstarter with a clear conscience. I really wasn’t expecting it do go out until Thursday or Friday, but she dropped it earlier, so here I am working on my third post in a week (Not normal for me at any time.) and they are all about geeky gingers.

If Sam Maggs (@sammaggs) or Karen Gillan (@karengillan) start up, I may end up posting daily. Not sure my mind could take that kind of workout. (Not sure it can handle this one frankly.)

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Being Weird On The Internet

I wasn’t planning on posting anything this soon. I am still processing some of the things that I wrote about in my last post, and I thought the subject of this post would be next Monday’s Making Me Happy post. And it might still be, will depend on what is happening when I write that. But I decided I couldn’t wait until then to say something about what I just read.

And what was it just read you ask? (Yeah, like you couldn’t guess from the title of the post.) I got Felicia Day’s (@feliciaday) memoir, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): A Memoir via Kindle this morning. And thanks to spending way too much time getting unloaded today, I have finished it. So I have some quick thoughts on it I felt like sharing, even if they aren’t going to be read.

I’ve written here about trying to handle social media without actually being able to handle social. Well Ms. Day has written an entire book about it, only she managed to make it funny, and sad, and informative, and incredibly inspiring, all at once.

While reading Ms. Day’s book, I found myself occasionally laughing out loud. And occasionally crying. And a few times doing both at the same time. And I am sitting here unable to express why I did any of those things, in any kind of reasonable number of words. I think anyone reading this book will do the same kinds of things, but at different places and for different reasons. Well, there is one place I think most people will tear up, the story about her dad and the guy at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. That may be a universal emotional touchstone.

Another thing most people will get from this book is inspiration. That was Ms. Day’s goal in writing this book, as she stated more than once. To show people that being weird, being different, being yourself, was not an impediment to being a success and more importantly, to being happy.

I was already of the opinion that Ms. Day was an exceptional person, and an inspiration to others with what she has accomplished with her career. I didn’t expect that to change from reading this book. But it did. Learning of some of the things she was going through privately while having those public successes, makes her story even more inspiring. Ms. Day is certainly not perfect, but I hope someday when I grow up, I can be just like her.

And Ms. Day, for the record, it never got too nerdy for me. (And no way would Jim ever leave Trixie. Bob Whites stick together.)


What’s Making Me Happy Right Now?

Wow. Just looked and the last post here was over 2 years ago. That really surprised me, because I remember writing so many thing over the last couple of years. Then I realized doing it in my head as I drive down the highway doesn’t actually get them typed in or posted. This place would have been a lot busier, at least on my part if that worked. Then again, there are a few of them that I am pretty sure would have been embarassing (well, more embarrassing than normal anyway) so it is just as well they didn’t end up in public.

So the last couple of year has happened. My father died in January, 2014. Lung cancer, his second bout in a year, just not strong enough to keep fighting. Not a great man, sometimes not a good one. And I did not always like him. But he usually tried for good, and I still miss him at times. No services, just a plain cremation, my sister and I finally got it paid off with my tax return this year. Amazing how expensive dying is.

I’m now a Type II diabetic. Since August of 2013 actually, missed a few months of work because of DOT regulations. Controlled with diet and some generic pills. (Metformin, if anyone cares. Pretty standard and cheap for 3 months at Walmart.) Happily, I had already moved to diet sodas years ago, and cut out most of the sweets and carb heavy foods. So the basic adjustments to my diet were not that large. More salads and smaller portions are the primary change, with some increase in exercise. I have never been one to denigrate salads, although I do prefer meatier meals, so more of them is not an issue. And the smaller portions with more exercise has been a little helpful with keeping my weight down, never a bad thing.

Earlier this year, I had a very frightening health scare. The kind where you spend a couple of months wondering if you have been wasting your years here on earth. The doctor was fairly sanguine about it, although that may have something to do with it not being his life and seeing it happen a lot.

Turns out he was right, they think. And I get to have 6 month check ups for the foreseeable future. But it has really messed up my inner gestalt, such as it was. Decisions I made years ago, that are clamoring for attention, despite no change in the reasons for the way they were made then. Things I have considered doing, but not down that are nudging me to get them done. Those are at least reasonable, seeing a deadline looming does have a way of bringing out things that are undone.

Overall, this has been a less than fun year. And I have been spending too much time with not fun in my thoughts. Driving it great for thinking about things, unless those things are unhappy and not really solvable problems, just worries and regrets. Continue reading

The Do’s and Don’ts of Kickstarter – A Backer’s POV

Well, this has taken longer than I was hoping or planning on to get done. But I have only myself to blame, since I started it 3 different times (besides this one) and kept writing about things I didn’t want to say. I am hoping this time I have narrowed things down enough that I won’t be starting this again and saying I had tried 4 times.

As I mentioned in my last post about Kickstarter, I have never started a project on any crowd sourcing site. I have only backed projects, mostly on Kickstarter. The numbers since that post have changed somewhat. I have now backed 35 projects in 2013, and overall have received 65 complete rewards, 6 partial rewards, and have 35 rewards that are past due. And have backed 20 unsuccessful projects. I’m always disappointed when that number increases.

While I don’t know what it is like to actually create and run a Kickstarter project, I have tons of experience with what does and doesn’t appeal to backers. At least backers like me, other people obviously have other tastes. So let’s take a look at them.

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A Personal Look at Kickstarter

Lots of noise around the interwebs these days about crowdsourcing, especially in the subcategory of crowdfunding. It isn’t exactly a new thing, in fact it is an extremely old (For American values of old anyway.) way of getting things done. Barn raisings are an age old form of crowdsourcing, that is still practiced today. The only thing that has really changed is what is being worked on and the number of people that can contribute.

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Marian Call is Really Something Fierce

As I have mentioned before here, I am a fan of singer/songwriter Marian Call (@mariancall). I first reviewed two of her albums back in March of 2009. They were the only ones she had out at the time, and they really stuck with me. Then I reviewed Something Fierce, her third album, in February of this year. (Ignore the first few paragraphs, do down, read about and stream the album.) And not long after, I finally got to see her in concert over a couple of days in Atlanta, GA. I also got to see her sing in Cleveland, OH, on August 26, backed by Seth Boyer (@sethboyer), with some help from a young group named Lumpia (@LumpiaBand). (I am going to get a review of the concert and some pictures up eventually. I hope.)

Ms. Call has had an incredibly busy year. Besides her full tour schedule around North America, mostly driving everywhere, she set up and ran a very successful Kickstarter campaign, with a second website that is still in use for promoting the re-release of her Something Fierce album. Fans can go to the Adventure Quest website and find a daily quest to complete leading up to the album’s release on November 13. It is a bit late in the game, but you can still participate, as long as you get everything done by the 13th.

Some of the quests are not too difficult, like the first one at The Insomnia Radio Network, or the second at either If My Thought-Dreams Could Be Seen, Anansi’s Web, or Whedonopolis. Then there are some real challenges, at least for me, like using ? for commenting on the Album Premiere page at American Songwriter. But even if you don’t want to give the quest a try, you should check out Something Fierce. As time has passed, my opinion of it has only grown.


A Nerd on Social Media

Obviously I am not trying to be consistent on how often I write here. Not because of a lack of things to say. On the contrary, I think of a lot I feel like writing here. But I generally do that while working, and they tend to frown on writing a blog while driving an 18 wheeler. Pure prejudice really. Plenty of people write their blogs while working, but me, not allowed. Such is life.

So I think of things to write, but remembering them when I have stopped moving and unloading and loading and doing paperwork, with the occasional meal and sleep thrown in, has not worked out too well. And when I do remember what I was thinking about, I am not always ready to write that particular entry at that particular time. It isn’t like I am a professional, getting paid and needing to meet a deadline. Even my most popular posts get maybe a couple of dozen hits before disappearing, so I am really doing this for myself.

For this one, the nerd in the title is me, as if you couldn’t guess. I have been one all my life, not by choice, but by whatever combination of genetics and environment brings it on. In some ways a typical one, poor eyesight, constantly reading, especially SF and Fantasy, extremely poor social skills, if you could call them social at all. In other ways, not so much. Ran track, varsity cross country, varsity wrestler. But it was a small school, we all had to wear more than one hat, and you couldn’t expect someone on the basketball team to take the nerd role, they were all cool.

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