Crap. I knew I’d been derelict, but didn’t realize it was that bad.
Sorry! I’ll try to get back on this horse soon. It’s getting pretty late and I don’t know if I have the time to cover our sixth (and final full) day in California. We spent that day finishing up the things we hadn’t been able to get to in the previous days (and we finally got to the Griffith Observatory!).
Until then, here’s a cat picture:
My Phobos on top of the washer.
I hope to link this picture to Jenny Lawson’s post on her bout of the flu. She asked for cat pictures and I’m really proud of this one. I’m going to try to post it in a comment, but just in case it doesn’t take, I’ll post a link to this post so that she can see it.
You see, Phobos has a bit of a weight problem and a few months back I began restricting his caloric intake (he used to free-feed 24 hours a day and now he only free-feeds 16 hours a day — I pick up the bowl between midnight and 8 am). So back on December 4, I was sitting where I’m sitting now and I heard a loud “WHUMP!” from the laundry room (which is behind me). I walked back there and looked in to find that Phobos had actually managed to jump up on top of the washer.
I was so pleased because this is evidence that, even if he’s not losing weight (which I’ll bet he is), his energy levels are getting better.
Well, a temp-to-perm assignment, for the time being. I’m still working as a pharmacy technician, but won’t be in retail anymore. Well, I’ll still be in retail part-time for at least the next few months, because I won’t be able to afford the COBRA payments if I were to leave completely. Instead I’m going to work at least enough hours to meet my share of the insurance payments until I can get on my new employer’s insurance. After that, I may decide to continue working at my old job part-time, because I like money. Also, did you see the words “temp-to-perm” up there? If I’m not a good match, I don’t want to end up completely without a job. So if it doesn’t work out I can always go back to my old retail job.
I really, really want it to work out, though.
What does that mean for this blog? Well, I’ll have more weekends off for travel, and even as a temp, I’ll be making about 110% of what I’m making at the retail job. If I stay on after the initial three months, and my pay goes up as much as the temp agency guy says it will, then I’ll be making 130% of what I’m making now. This means that I might be able to go back to putting a little money aside every week for an international trip in the next few years. Also, my day will now be ending, at a minimum, two hours earlier than it is now, so that will hopefully translate into (a) visiting museums and parks and things in the evening sometimes, and (b) more energy for blogging in general.
I’m still just so nervous, though. I accidentally discovered the off-label use of propranolol for anxiety (I was prescribed it to prevent migraines) when I was in and just out of college. I wonder if I could get away with intentionally using a beta-blocker that way.
Now, I want to make money from my travel writing somehow. I’ve actually made a tiny bit ($15 or so, I think) from writing on different for-pay sites over the years, but I really want to get somewhere with this. So I’ve got some ideas:
- I’m actually breaking ground on a travel book. I really need a public-domain map that I can modify for this purpose, though. What I want to do is break the city up into manageable slices and do something a little more than a pamphlet but a little less than a book on each and then eventually join them up into larger regional guides (like having a downtown guide, a Missions-area guide, etc.) and then, if I ever finish the whole city, have one larger guide for everything. I have pictures taken of two of these sections of downtown and (as I write this on August 31) hope to get downtown to take pictures for the third soon. I’m planning to hit my friends up for personal experiences in/near/with these places to include. My dream is to include nearby towns like Boerne, New Braunfels, etc. in this guide eventually.
- Kinda/sorta sell photographs. My idea isn’t to actually sell them, like setting up a booth or anything, but to take requests for photos to post in my blogs. If someone, for example, wants to see if the Alamo is really in the middle of downtown (it is, but it’s not really downtown as someone from, like, Chicago or New York would understand the term), they could pay me a relatively small amount and I’d go downtown when things aren’t so crowded (an early Sunday morning in January, say) and take a panoramic shot, which I then would post in my blog for the requester and anyone else who cares to look at it. There would be a sort of mileage scale to this, so 0 to 20 miles from downtown would be X and 20.1 to 40 miles from downtown would be 2X, and so on. And I would reserve the right to reject offers that I consider to be trespassing, like you can’t take photos inside the Alamo, and so a request for a picture inside the Alamo would be trespassing and I would refuse. I like this plan, and may make this an actual thing down the line. And if there’s a fee to take professional photographs in an area, and getting paid $X counts as “professional” for the owner of that area’s purposes, then the requester of the photograph should probably foot the bill for that fee.*
- Start a Patreon. This is what all the cool kids are doing and I’d like to get into this, but I don’t have enough traffic to make it worthwhile and even if I did, I’m not sure how to give bonuses for people who subscribe. Maybe I could modify point 2 above to be $X into the Patreon will get you a picture posted on the blog, $X+Y will give you a photograph emailed to you a week before posting on the blog, $X+Y+Z gets you a photograph that no one but you will ever see? I’ll have to mull that over for a while.
*The fee for the Cibolo Nature Center is $20 and the Cibolo Nature Center is 31 miles from downtown, so assuming that the Cibolo Nature Center people consider getting paid $2X for the picture counts as “professional,” I’d ask the requester to pay $2X+20.
Author’s note: I started working on this post late on August 25 and while working on it, it became August 26. As a result, read all of the “tonight”s as “last night”s, all of the “tomorrow”s as “today”s and so forth.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall not that long ago down in Corpus Christi. I’m really fond of Corpus and it looks like Alex and I may be visiting there again to see what it looks like after the storm sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Until then, though, here I sit in San Antonio, looking at the Weather.com map of my city and noticing that my neighborhood is pretty much surrounded by rain.
They’re expecting some flooding for San Antonio and at some point the electricity is going to go out. I got home from work a bit late, as we spent some time covering electronics with plastic bags and things, just in case the roof caves in or something. Then I got to work using electricity while I have it. Alex and I cooked some turkey bacon, I did a load of laundry (and probably will do another one while I settle down for bed), I’m running the dishwasher, and I’m charging pretty much everything that needs to be charged (I’m almost done charging my phone-charging batteries and am about to start on the bluetooth speaker that we bought for the Nebraska trip).
I’m probably going to do a lot of reading tomorrow (particularly if the electricity goes out), since the wind will probably stop me from really going anywhere. I may take a hike down to the creek, which is usually dry, to watch the water flow past (which will make a dent in the 6,700 steps I need to make to get caught up with my goal). And maybe I’ll start to make a dent in my next National Geographic post and, maybe even work on the post that will be the preface to our California trip, which will explain how Thomas and I ended up going to California for the very first time, in the mid-1990s.
Or maybe I’ll just stay in bed all day. That’s a possibility, as well.
Every time I think about posting here, I remember how long it’s been and put it off again.
Welcome to procrastination.
I think I’m going to stop recapping absolutely everything I read in National Geographic. So much of what they are writing about now, all of the scientific research stuff, particularly, is interesting to me to read, but not so interesting to blog about. So I think I’m going to limit myself to travel articles.
I’ve been stressed out by work and my elderly animals. Diabetic cat, Cosmo, has been losing weight and we’ve slowly been decreasing his insulin. Long story and I need to get to bed. We’ve added gabapentin to our arthritic dog, Foxy’s regimen. Another long story.
Why do I need to get to bed?
Because in about six hours from right now, Alex and I will be off to Los Angeles for our annual “big trip.” In less than 12 hours from now, we’ll be starting our trip along the Pacific Coast Highway starting in Orange County and working our way northwest. I also plan to stop off at Sweet Cup in Garden Grove for an ice cream taco in the morning, as well. So I hope to have a bunch of adventures to share with you once we’re back. I may make a post or two while we’re out and about.
Oh, and I’m doing the Samsung Health Global Challenge for the second month running. I ended June somewhere in the low 100,000s and right now I’m in the low 80,000s (with 194,000 steps so far this month). Hopefully we’ll find lots of opportunities to walk over the next week and I’ll be able to keep and improve upon my standing. We’ll see what happens down the line.
I guess that “post-mortem” is probably as good a term as “look back” or “wrapup”or any other term that comes across more neutral, particularly after that election.
So, here goes.
- We all know how that election went. The less said about that the better. However, I did offer to do something to help the Bexar County Democratic Party. What will I do? No clue. Let’s see what I come up with. Perhaps I’ll have something definitive to say at the end of December or January.
- I did catch up on my steps with one day to spare. I ended up averaging a little over 8700 steps.
- I did not win NaNoWriMo. 2016 may have been one of my worst years yet, with just a little over 10,000 words. But there’s always 2017. And I don’t mean just November. I attempt the same goal in February, April, June, and September, as well. If I make it, I at least will know that I can do it.
- I’m sticking to my schedule of working on my language skills. I’m doing a couple of Duolingo Spanish lessons every day and also a few Rosetta Stone lessons. My employer is one of the companies that gives access to Rosetta Stone to its employees and so, based on my experience with customers with limited English, I’ve chosen Vietnamese. I’m almost done with Unit One. If I keep to my schedule, I estimate that I’ll spend about six months learning Vietnamese. I also try to do an Italian and a German Duolingo lesson every day and I’m trying to get back into Rosetta Stone Mandarin. I’m paying myself more for Rosetta Stone because Rosetta Stone lessons take a lot longer than Duolingo ones. So far I’ve saved up over $14 and will have accrued at least a penny in interest by the end of the month.
No, I’m not taking up stripping. There’s no way I’m in shape enough for it. I have to admit that I have nice legs, though.
When I first started blogging, I read a bunch of articles saying that you need a “niche.” If you don’t bring your readers something that no other writer focuses on, you’ll never find an audience or whatever. The examples they gave were budget travel, traveling with children, and so on. Like there aren’t dozens of blogs on those subjects.
Then, sometime this summer, it hit me. Two things I really love, and the reason I cannot see myself living in a rural area, are public art and urban parks. I’m not going to only write about those things, there aren’t enough days in the week for me to visit all of the art and parks in all of the cities to be able to keep up a regular schedule of posting on just those two subjects. But as Alex and I (and, once Alex is grown, just I) travel, I’ll be visiting the parks that I can get to and photographing and exploring the history of the public art that I see as we go. There will probably be a side order of museums along the way as well.
The plan (and I’ve saved nearly all of the money up for both) is to visit Quebec City, Montreal, and Toronto in July 2017 and then Memphis, Nashville, and Cincinnati (possibly Louisville as well, depending on how early we get out of Cincinnati) in August on our way to and from Kentucky for the eclipse. I think I’ve only visited one park in one of those cities, Centre Island Park in Toronto, so that will give me some new areas to explore while I’m on those trips.
Speaking of “You Gotta Get a Gimmick,” it was probably about 10:00 p.m. or so when I heard Gypsy coming from the other room (my dad watches Turner Classic Movies a lot). I knew that Alex had never seen most of the classic movies and Gypsy was a particular favorite. So I offered Alex a choice, he could go to bed or stay up with me watching a movie about a stripper. I assured him it wasn’t *that* kind of movie (its TV rating is PG), and he was intrigued enough to check it out and interested enough to stay up until the end.
Today, Google Photos reminded me that this is the first anniversary of the day that Alex, my phone, and I went down to San Pedro Springs Park to take some possible header photos for my blog. I had just discovered the panorama mode on my phone. My older digital camera — which has a wrist strap, so I still use it in situations where I’m afraid of dropping my camera — has a panorama mode that takes separate overlapping photos which I can then stitch together into one. My phone’s panorama mode is one continuous shot. You move the camera from one side to another (or from top to bottom/bottom to top) and the camera makes one image out of it. This works out really well outdoors. Indoors, it makes the walls look like they’re bowing inwards. It’s kind of a neat effect, but not exactly what you want for an indoor shot most of the time.
Below is the panorama I took of the inside of Grand Central Terminal so you can see what I mean.
Grand Central Terminal taken with my Samsung Galaxy S5 on panorama mode
As I said, though, the panorama mode is pretty good outdoors, so I went around to different parts of the park and took a variety of pictures of different parts of the park and sometimes the same part of the park from different vantage points with different aspect ratios (the width-to-height measurement of an image).
Then, once I was certain that I had the layout that I wanted, I looked for an image that could be cropped and/or resized to fit the dimensions of the header image for the layout without compromising the subject. The winner was the panorama I took from the top of the stairs above the springs. And now, one year ago later (to the day!), I’m still pretty proud of that photo.
Frankly, I don’t know. I keep reading about people who get comped meals and hotel rooms and things so that the blogging helps pay for their travel. And that might be great for them, but it would make me uncomfortable. Besides that, as someone who’s taster-gene impaired, I really don’t think I’d give my readers a good idea of the food at restaurants.
Although, since I work in a retail pharmacy, I sure could use some help paying for travel. As you’ve probably noticed, I haven’t really done anything to monetize this thing. I’m just not sure I have enough of value to do so yet.
When will I feel that I have? I’m not sure. Possibly after I get back from vacation in two-ish weeks and have that trip written up, maybe not even then. I would, ideally, like to find some kind of audience and I fear that having ads on the blog might impede that. On the other hand, perhaps the ads should be in place when I find the audience to begin with.
Should I experiment with clickbait titles? How could I make a clickbait title out of the Witte Museum, or Walker Ranch Historic Landmark Park? Or even Yellowstone? Well, maybe I’ll have “Three Encounters with Wildlife at Yellowstone” or even “Three Encounters with Wild Life in West Yellowstone” or something of that nature.
Fortunately, I don’t have to make any big decisions. I’m just navel-gazing at this point.
I had a few posts written ahead of time, then a few things happened to throw off my groove:
- One of my coworkers took a couple of weeks off. During that time, others had obligations that meant that they had to take a day or two off. This led us to being short-handed and to my boss scheduling me for the early shift pretty close to every day. I was used to working one of our later shifts except for, generally, one day a week (Wednesday), which means that my brain is used to going to sleep much later than was comfortable and I don’t write so well when I’m sleep-deprived.
- I was feeling kind of under the weather. I developed some kind of rash on my neck (the doctor says it looked like some kind of allergic reaction) which itched all the time, so even when I was asleep, I didn’t actually get any rest (see point 1 above about sleep deprivation and my writing skill).
- I just hit the November 2015 issue of National Geographic. When Netflix first became a thing (back in the days when they’d send you a DVD in the mail), my now-ex and I watched at least one episode of The X-Files a night. Watching it like that brought some of the weaknesses of the show into sharper relief than might have been obvious to the viewers who watched it as it was broadcast (don’t get me started on Samantha Mulder). I am having a similar problem with reading this many issues as quickly as I am. In this case, though, it begins to get kind of monotonous — unrest in Africa, global warming, global warming, unrest in Africa, here’s some pictures of Norway, unrest in Africa, global warming . . . . The November 2015 issue is entirely dedicated to global warming and I just needed a break. Oh, and my dad’s subscription seems to no longer allow me to access the issues online, so in order to write on the issues, I will need to hold them on my lap while I type, which seems like it will be kind of a challenge.
At any rate, I am working my usual schedule tomorrow and have Thursday off, so I’m pretty sure that I’m going to be able to get back to writing soon.
And I’m almost back to where I was when I lost my external hard drive, so I’ll be back to counting the pictures I’ve scanned in soon, as well.