If you got here through some happy accident right click and save this link! Tim's Own Thing Blog

Friday, April 29, 2005

Friday, three AM

I'm posting before I go to bed. Not the 'funny blog'...I've had a rough day. What I thought was a rough day.

There's a thing called BlogExplosion. They are a 'traffic service'. This isn't news to a lot of you...they brought you here. For those who got here some other way, BE's engine sends people here and gives them a little counter at the top...if they stay 30 seconds they get 'credit', and the engine sends people to their site based on those credits.

I don't know if BlogExplosion generates any traffic of value or not. I can only look at myself, and a lot of times I'm just doing the thirty second shuffle. Things catch my eye and I'll stay longer, but mostly it's about moving on. Sometimes I think I'd like to go back and check out something at greater length or keep up with some particularly interesting blogger...but there's a catch...the address will show up as BE, not the site itself. So I added that 'save this link' line at the top for you BE surfers in case any of you want to come back.

I thought about posting some commentary about blogsurfing a few times, and I really should be doing BlogExplosion more justice because they are a great service. They do send complete strangers to my blog, and sometimes those people come back, comment, become known to me. There is also a great adventure in surfing on BE...clicking that number to go to the next blog and never knowing if it will be a comic strip, photoblog, product reviews, recipes, amusing scenes from someones real life, or mad political rants from any or all points of view. I could make a dozen funny posts about surfing blogs...but not tonight.

I can't add this link to my 'serial fiction' list, because I believe it's a true story. I can't recommend it in a humorous entry, because it is so far from funny. What I can say is that I had every intention of surfing a dozen blogs or so and going to bed...around midnight. Then I saw this. I read it all. I did a search to get the direct link. I marked it so I can read the rest as it is written. It is disturbing, and I've never recommended a blog before, but I recommend this: http://www.63days.com

My day was not so rough. None of them really ever has been.
PS...don't click that link if you are at work, or have something to do in the next few hours...just in case.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Jack and his girlfriend

As a writer I sometimes refuse to accept the old expression "a picture is worth a thousand words", but in this case...

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Sneakers on her tree

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Jack under the tree

As you can see they have a very intense relationship.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

So Many Games, So Little Time

While my brother was out from Louisiana he introduced my mom to yet another game on Yahoo. I tried to ignore this. I've played the four that show up on Yahoo Messenger, and I know just how much time they can eat. But like the elephant in the living room, this Bejeweled just couldn't be ignored. It seemed like every time I walked into mom's computer room she was delightedly blowing things up.

Bejeweled is a puzzle game. You line up three similar jewels and they disappear. Line up four and three disappear and the fourth turns into a bomb. Line up five and four disappear, but the fifth turns into the highly desired blow up lots of stuff vortex. It is very simple to play, so it is really maddening when it says 'no more moves'. I know, since I broke down and started playing it. Of course.

To play through twenty levels takes almost two hours. When I did it twice in a row I felt like I could retire this one. The second time my computer crashed at level 24. Otherwise I might still be playing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

And Film Still Exists Because?

I dropped off a roll of film for my girlfriend yesterday. I carried it in my pocket for two days and left it on my counter for three or four more first. Half of it is pictures of Sneakers the cat and Jack, taken recently. The first half I think she remembers, but I don't know what they are. That is how I remember getting film developed has always been. "Stand still, we need to finish this roll," seems to ring familiar.

It costs like twelve bucks to get these mysterious photos developed. I know some of them are no good. Jack and Sneakers close together for a photo are not the most stable composition elements. Basically we wanted one 'good one' to post on our family blog. I'll undoubtedly post one here too as a reward for those who slog through my rambling prose.

Twelve bucks. What does film cost anyway? I have no clue since I have never been much of a photo guy. Boxes of pictures that no one really looks at until you are dead just never made much sense to me. Of course when they have to be paid for just throwing them away would seem pretty hard I guess, so best left for the descendents to do.

But a picture is worth a thousand words, so they say. Buying film, getting it developed, stacks of irrelevant photos; that was the price for being able to say "This is Jack with Sneakers the cat. Aren't they cute?" We need a digital camera. How in the world do they still sell cameras that take film?

Monday, April 25, 2005


On my home page I have the listing for the nearest theater. I don't know if I really have a 'home page'. It's my Yahoo page with personalized content. Is that a home page? I digress. Whatever it is I have the theater listings. With dad in the convalescent hospital I don't have the constant work demand that I got accustommed to. With my girlfriend's parents in town I have time on my hands that I would normally get to spend with her. For the first time in a long time I actually looked at this movie listing.

There's lots of good stuff playing right now. I think I might go see something today in fact. But what really got my attention is the show times that are in parenthesis. At the bottom it says "() - discounted/bargain shows." Well everybody knows what that means I suppose; even me. But I was still surprised, and will definitely cruise over today during the afternoon to take advantage.

I just don't know how much of a discount I'll get. The theater right down the street, which is the one I have listings for since it is so close....it's the dollar movies.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Responsible Adults

I don't usually comment on the news, mostly because I try not to pay any attention to it. This one caught my eye though. A twenty year old hopeful performer had her violin stolen. It was recovered by a good Samaritan who is of course being investigated by the police for their trouble. If the cops can't pin the original crime on him he is going to get a ten thousand dollar reward that was put up by the parents of the future star.

They put up a ten thousand dollar reward for the return of the violin because it is one of only thirty of its kind and worth approximately eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars! You may wonder how a twenty year old comes to be in possession of such an instrument. I certainly would. It was loaned to her by a collector. Loaned!

The collector's insurance specifically does not cover theft from a vehicle. He apparently didn't bother to tell her that. Maybe he assumed when he loaned her the irreplaceable instrument that she would have better sense than to leave it on the seat of her car.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Do I Pace Myself...

...or am I just bone lazy?

I've been putting down weed barrier for the last two days. Two days, and I'd say the yard is about half done. Four courses of the cloth are down, and I think it will take three more, but the last one is really long. To lay this stuff down involves moving the bed of cinder rock out of the way with a rake, rolling the stuff out, then putting the rock back on top of it. I can do a strip in about an hour. So why only four in two days? Three or four hours rest in between strips is why.

So technically I could have done the job in one day of steady work, but I didn't. I did pretty much anything but work steadily. I would be sure about the bone lazy part, but I was still close to crippled from the effort, so instead I say it's a good thing I know how to pace myself. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it...but I won't fight about it. I'm too sore.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

My Game Is An Embarrassment

I have been considering myself a solid 1550 chess player. I slide down to 1500 sometimes, and I hit 1600 occasionally, but most of the time I'm within twenty points of 1550. 1550 is not an extraordinary rating, but it isn't just average either. Yesterday I decided I am going to get above 1600 and stay there.

I decided this after winning two games against 1600 plus players. Those games illuminated something so brightly that even I can't ignore it. In one of them I actually slipped with the mouse and made the wrong first move. In the other I didn't. It made no difference, my opening was abysmal. After ten moves I was in such an inferior position that I'm sure both my opponents wondered how I held my rating. They found out. In the midgame I fight like a cornered wolverine, and if I can reach the endgame somewhere close to even I am like a death machine.

I have a database with a thousand quick lessons in opening strategy. I did three or four, acknowledged its usefulness, and haven't opened it since. What a knothead.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

On Vacation

When I took on taking care of my parents some part of me looked at it as an escape. With a roof overhead and food on the plate I would be free of the constant hustling of running businesses or being a salesman, so I could really settle myself, do some soul searching, write a book. What I didn't consider is that life isn't really organized into weekdays and weekends. Health and personal needs take no breaks.

My dad is still in the hospital, but he is getting stronger every day. Friday there's a meeting for training in the even more extensive care he will need when he comes home. Chances are that leaving him to my mom, even for a day, is going to be a thing of the past.

So I've escaped for a few days to a resort in Palmdale. A couple days here is probably going to have to carry me through however long dad has left. I'm confident that it will. Even though the groundskeeper and the pool man are both me, the company is that good.

Monday, April 18, 2005

It's A Dog's Life

Jack is spoiled. He is spoiled in a way that I've never seen a dog spoiled. I did it. I admit it. I'm not even sorry about it. I wish everyone could spoil their dog this way.

Jack gets some treats to eat now and then, but he has to work for them by learning commands, so he isn't spoiled that way. Sometimes he gets a substitute for his dinner, like a bacon cheeseburger or meat loaf and bread, but it's a substitute not a bonus, and I make sure that the ratio of protein to filler is about the same as his dog food. So he isn't spoiled that way. Okay, right now some people are saying 'cheeseburger? that dog is spoiled', but really.

How Jack is spoiled is that he is always with me. I work from home. I write, he lays on the couch next to my chair. His designated couch and the only furniture he is allowed on by the way. I go take care of stuff at my folks house, he comes along. I go to my girlfriend's house, he comes along. I'm working on some way to get him declared a service animal so he can come to the store with me.

If I claim that being his seeing eye person keeps me from being a threat to society do you think he would qualify?

Friday, April 15, 2005

I Might Be Nocturnal

At one time I had three cats. They were all from the same litter. They all could have passed for pure-bred cats, but obviously weren't since they would have passed for three different breeds. One is a perfect apple-head siamese, one is a classic orange tabby, and the third is a bombay black. The orange tabby made it a very strange mix indeed, since the red genes he obviously held in force did not show up at all in his brothers. Clearly sons of three different fathers and a mother cat who contributed nothing to their genetic mix. But what has them on my mind is their behavior.

Two of the three seldom touched the floor. They slept on top of the kitchen cabinets and traversed the living room by a series of leaps from couch back to chair to piano. Their brother prowled the lower regions, keeping his feet firmly on the ground. On the rare occassion when he got up on the kitchen cabinets it would take near starvation for him to make the jump down to the counter. I think in the common housecat there is a blend of ancient tree dwelling species with other creatures of the broad savanna, and my three boys came from widely divergent branches of that heritage.

People might be just as diverse a blend. I think I must be descended from some rare nocturnal stock.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Old Times

I took my brother to the airport yesterday. Most people hate the drive to LAX, and someone that lives the better part of a hundred miles away might be expected to hate it more than most. I have an ace in the hole though. The best people I ever worked with work in an office building right down the street, and every time I have to go to the airport it gives me an excuse to visit them.

I didn't work there very long, and most of the actual individuals I worked with have either moved on or didn't actually frequent the office in the first place, but just the atmosphere there can recharge batteries. They sell great lives. Every day they fly into the face of disbelief, sometimes hostile disbelief, but they never fail to deliver. It is by far the hardest job I ever had, and I've had a lot.

Hats off to my friends at Landmark Education. I love you all, whether I ever had the pleasure of actually meeting you or not.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I Have This Theory

I am pretty much a routine driven guy. I do what I do, and I like it, so I pretty well just keep on doing it. So once I got through the first couple weeks it wasn't really too hard for me to keep my blogs going. Until recently.

Two and a half weeks ago my dad went to the hospital. The place promptly flooded with family. Dad's illness is bad; having the clan gathered around is excellent; both are disruptive to my routine.

But the blogs tick along. Not always first thing in the morning as was my routine, but they have been maintained daily. My theory is that things are now getting settled back to normal. Cross your fingers for me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Miracle on 47th Street

So the other night my girlfriend and I found a bunch of water in her house. Not wanting to start tearing things up at one in the morning we went to bed considering the problem. I spent yesterday with my family...in the background considering the problem. I got here last night fully expecting that by now I would be up to my ears in water logged drywall, moldy carpet and the other detritus of disaster. Anyway, I pulled up the carpet and pad and we set up a fan to dry stuff out...especially the standing water on the slab. That was most important to me so I could trace any new water back to its source today.

As we went to bed to the accompaniment of the roaring fan we talked about what those sources might be. I was already feeling pretty good; drywall seemed pretty much unscathed, carpet soaked but no major moldering. Hose bib leaking in the wall and roof leak flowing down inside the chimney were my favored betting lines. The easiest thing to check though was the sprinklers; probability near zero, but really easy to check. I jokingly said 'first thing, we'll turn on the sprinklers, maybe one broke and by some weird twist it is shooting water straight into some gap in the siding.'

So the sprinkler is fixed using a spare part from the garage (cost = zero), carpet is almost dry and ready to put back down, and it's not even lunch time. Without the direct sprinkler blast for twenty minutes a day the minor roof leak on the down slope side of the chimney is hardly even worth fixing. Miracle made to order; can I call 'em or what?

Monday, April 11, 2005

A New Week

...and no predetermined subject...boy am I in trouble...NOT! With a whole week of accumulated material I hardly know where to start. I guess last Friday's trip to the laundromat.

Yes I have a washer and dryer. Yes I could do laundry regularly. I could even throw stuff in with my girlfriend's laundry since she generally doesn't have real full loads. But I don't. I enjoy the laundromat too much. There's something monumental about doing all my laundry at once; makes it kind of like climbing Mount Everest. Besides, they seem to be full of people who think they don't want to be there, and that's always amusing.

One woman I met was wishing she was in Hawaii instead. I stood there and looked out the front of the place with her. Strip mall parking lot. Cars. Palm trees. Sky. I lived in Hawaii for three years. Near as I could make out if we had been instantaneously transported to a laundomat in Honolulu we would not have been able to tell the difference if not for the warrior on the license plates. I don't know if she appreciated me pointing that out. Now if I had had to slog my hundred pounds of laundry through the snow to get there I may have seen her point better. If I lived where it snowed I'd have to have fifty more pounds of clothes so I could make it through the entire winter without doing laundry.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Hello? I Know You're Out There!

End of the week and a last thing about getting going with a blog. I'm gonna have to go back to thinking about what to write about from day to day. Ah well, it has been a nice vacation.

It is completely possible for me to delude myself into almost anything...sometimes. Telling myself 'hey, a whole bunch of people are reading my blog' could have been on the delusion list. But the first time I really didn't feel like writing, like all good delusions it would have instantly changed to suit my purpose...becoming 'heck, no one reads it anyway' and supporting taking a nap or whatever other project had just risen to high priority.
So here is how to avoid the delusion. It is a widespread tried and true solution, for lots of things besides blogs. Statistics. What a miserable word. Bleeeeech, as we would say in the comics. But in the wonderful world of the internet statistics takes on a whole new meaning....because someone else takes care of them! Gotta love that!

I use a service called 'statcounter'. It's free. Gives me the cool rolling counter gizmo down there at the bottom of the page (leave a message if you are reader number 1000 by the way). It also gives me a list of all sorts of top secret information about my readers. That includes you, since you are here. Things like what country you are from, so I can call myself an internationally acclaimed writer. Also what operating system you use, so I can watch for myself how the battle against big Bill is going. (For those that don't know, he won.) Anyway, statcounter is really easy to use. They give you code that you just paste into your template. There are lots of others out there I'm sure, and they are probably just as easy.

So there you have it. If one person starts a successful blog after reading this I will call it an unparalleled victory, even if they would have done it anyway. I'm not completely averse to delusion, after all.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


Promotion? I didn't even know I had a job! Oh, not that kind of promotion...

Some people I suppose write their blogs the way people keep a diary. They just write for the sake of writing, and maybe don't even realize that anyone with the address can read what they post. Of course if they never give the address to anyone and keep it off the various scan lists they have little to worry about. In the bazillion words floating around the net their little secrets are probably pretty safe. So are mine, and they aren't meant to be secrets.

I don't write for the sake of writing, I write to be read! And there comes a moment where if I didn't know there were readers I'd probably not write. Okay, comes a lot of those moments. But in those moments I know I have readers, and that gets me through. So where did they come from? How did they find my words among the zillions? Not by accident, mostly.

Another advantage of the topical blog; whatever your interest you are not alone. I write serial fiction based in the world of a computer game. I searched out bulletin boards and forums related to the game and got on there and hawked my ass off. Then I did the same thing with fantasy/science fiction forums. Then I posted an author's note asking my readers to send the link to their friends. It looked like this:

Hey you readers, send this link to your friends: http://timsownthing.blogspot.com

Well...it was a little more diplomatic, but you get the idea...and by the way if that worked and you are here because someone sent you that link leave me a comment!

Bottom line....promote your blog, even if it's just telling your friends and family to read it as a way to make up for your bad habit of not answering your e-mail. Save up some readers for the rainy day where you really don't have it in you to write just for the sake of writing.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Contents and Packaging

There's this thing called a template. It makes no difference at all. For this blog, it's the thing that keeps the sidebar over there---> instead of over <---there, which I suppose could be considered a useful function if you really care which side it is on. It also determines the colors of things, which is very important. What colors exactly isn't so important, but it's good to avoid things like white text on light grey background unless you're some sort of stealth blogger. The standard templates are good for that since they've been tested not just on your 32 bit super video card and 19 inch flat screen, but will be visible to Billy in Botswana. No offense meant to Billy or the rest of my Botswanan fans.

There's a button up at the top marked 'next blog'. You can use that to surf randomly through blogs on blogger. If you do you will see the same templates used by many people; sometimes heavily modified, sometimes so straight out of the box that the links section still says 'edit here'. Some of the best content will be on those straight from the box templates, and you will find some idiot savant blogs with extensive templates full of banner photos and animated text marching across the page...filled with weather reports apparently misspelled by a ten year old.

So pick a template from the ready supply and get going is my suggestion. For one thing you aren't stuck with your choice anyway, so there's no point really sweating over it. For another thing, if you have the content someone might come along and offer to dress up your packaging for you. Thanks Bravo.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Now What?

Okay...so the latest thing I've learned about blogging...shouldn't have said yesterday what I was gonna talk about today, since I really have no idea how to go about it. Ah, but I am going about it...so I need to erase this and start over....but then I wouldn't be going about it...so I don't need to erase this after all...wait...

Now that that bit of paradoxical inanity is out of the way I can actually get started, and start by really voiding out that whole thing. Saying yesterday what I was going to talk about this week actually does make things easier. The key difference between my first successful blog, Arvil Bren's Journal, and all the previous failures was that I knew every day what it was going to be about. I still had to write it, but I never had to wonder what to write about. Without the things I gained from that success this blog probably would have folded like so many others, because this one I do wonder every day what to write about.

So, first bit of advice to the hopeful new blogger: get your feet wet with a topical blog. Mine was serial fiction. My son with the tarantula collection could post a picture and biography of one of his pets every day for the next three months. My brother could analyze a chess game every day for the rest of forever. People with kids can usually post a stupid thing their kid just did on a daily basis, and many of them do. Pick something you can talk about every day...of interest to you. Don't worry about who else might be interested...whatever the topic there is always somebody on the net looking for it.

Monday, April 04, 2005

One Post Wonderment

I've told a lot of people about blogging. I've also got a couple methods for surfing blog sites. I also have my own previous experiences with blogging. Taken altogether the conclusion I've reached is that this is just not as easy as it seems to me now.

I have a routine that includes updating my blogs. I have a system that keeps me aware that I do have regular readers. The first critical part of having a system to tell me that is having regular readers. My previous blogs, which shall be nameless and unmourned here, never had any of these things and they fall into the category I call 'one post wonders'. They might have had more than one...maybe three or four even...but no one ever read them, or even heard about them.

Now I've had the experience of keeping up a blog, and it's great. I so clearly enjoy it that I frequently hear 'that's so cool! I'm gonna do that!' It makes me cringe, and I want to say 'don't try this at home!' I never do. It isn't dangerous, or even hard, and the reward is great...but I think this week I'm gonna talk about what I've learned about being a blogger and see if I can help some people get through without leaving the litter of dead blogs that I left.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Stone Cold

I had my first experience with the Coldstone Creamery yesterday. Very cool, so to speak.

I'm glad my brain engaged itself. My brother suggested ice cream, and we promptly shed thirty something years and resorted to old habit. As we were standing in the intolerable line at Baskin Robbins, scene of numerous after school stops when I was in junior high, it suddenly dawned on me that there was a reason I hadn't been in a Baskin Robbins for a long time. More than one actually. Rosemary's Creamery in Bako. Dewar's, also in Bako. Swensen's. Ghiradehli's.

The old 'why am I stuck in this desert again started to strike me, but then I remembered seeing the Coldstone...I can at least be stuck in the here...now...instead of stuck in Lancaster circa 1974.