Today I received an invitation to attend a day-long big corporation design meeting at the end of March in Washington, DC, for a volunteer project that I’m passionate about. Flight, hotel, transportation, and most food paid for by the big corporation.

I know. That should be an easy decision, and that decision should be “Hell, yeah!”

But attending means taking one, perhaps even two, days off work (and no work means no pay for a contractor). That would be about 1/7 of my monthly pay I’d be giving up, which is a particularly big deal because of lingering financial issues related to my lengthy underemployment over the last year.

I don’t have a passport. I’ve never had a passport. I’d have to get photos taken, find a guarantor to vouch for me, and then apply for (and more importantly pay for) express passport processing. The fees are an issue right at this very moment, but more of an issue is the time — I’m in the middle of two fairly intensive freelance jobs at the moment (not to mention my “day” job) and just trying to figure out where to squeeze getting a passport in there stresses me even more than I’m already stressed out.

And there is the issue of leaving my cat alone. He’s old. He’s still unwell. Leaving him alone for a day wouldn’t be too bad (he’s already alone for half a day on days I’m working), but if I end up trying to mitigate the payment losses by going directly from the airport to work, then he’d be alone for almost two days.

I have to decide by end of day on Friday and I just don’t know. I’m truly torn, though I admit I’m leaning towards declining the invitation as that’s the option that eases my stress the most. But it would be a huge shame to miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — the company isn’t likely to extend the offer again in the future, especially since it looks like almost no one who has been invited to attend in person will actually be able to go.

So…I just don’t know.

And I have less than two days to change that.



The NaBloPoMo theme for daily blogging this month is “In a Word”, wherein you’re supposed to choose a word and build a blog post around that word, whether it’s just a word that strikes your fancy at the time or one that describes your overall day. It’s up to each blogger to decide what exactly it means. (And you’re by no means required to stay within that theme — the point of NaBloPoMo is really to just blog every day, and the theme is a tool you can use to inspire you to do that.)

I’ve been AWOL from this blog for months now, posting only occasionally. So I thought I might try (once again — I haven’t succeeded yet, though that doesn’t stop me attempting it) taking part in NaBloPoMo this month. I like the idea of picking a word a day to blog about. It’s likely to mostly be a word describing my day or state of mind that day, but who knows.

Well, there’s your problem

So, despite some 5-hour Energy and a (mostly) willing spirit, I did not actually get much of anything accomplished today.

I’d like to say that I was distracted by some meaningful activity, like job hunting, but no. I got lost doing mostly meaningless crap, though I did get several blog posts written and published. (Yes, I hoard blogs like I hoard everything else; that shouldn’t surprise you.) I also changed the header image on this blog — thought it was perhaps time to retire the moody, black and white Winter shot of the Rideau River in favour of a more upbeat, Summer panorama shot* of the Ottawa riverfront — and finally uploaded some photos from my flight home from Halifax on June 30. (They’re in my Flickr photostream. Have I mentioned that I love Porter Airlines?) Sure, you could argue that all of those items were really low on my “to do” list compared to so many other things, but at least they were on the list. I could have spent the day just watching TV or sleeping.

In any case, I’m sitting here tonight (er, this morning) thinking that I can get stuck into things full on tomorrow. Except that tomorrow I really *do* need to finish up some freelance work that I’ve been putting off (payment would be nice and, so far, no one seems willing to pay me for doing nothing), and it really has to take priority over everything. So the declutter gets put on the back burner for another day. Aw, who am I kidding? Another couple of days at least.

Before you know it, another week rolls by and there I am, exactly where I started, saying to myself that I won’t do this again. Except where I do. This is where this all starts, where it all balloons into a situation you’ve lost complete control over.

How do you choose between activities when all of them have the same importance? (Forget that I’m sometimes choosing between activities that have no importance at all. I’m talking about those times when the activities really are things that have to be done sooner rather than later.) How do normal, sane people cope with this? Do they just never put themselves in situations where there is no hierarchy, no clear choice? Or do they artificially inflate/deflate the importance of conflicting obligations in order to ensure that there is no question which one must be done first?

* Panorama image purchased three years ago from iStockphoto for a different blog, but never used. See? I guess I did actually accomplish something today after all.

I seem to have misplaced April somewhere

Still free-floating in a weird place.

I’ve been here so long I should call it home, though I hate it here. Except when I don’t care.

My days have become a tangled mess of sleeping, introspection, procrastinating, avoidance, talking to my father on the phone, and taking care of Internet tasks that alternately make me sad and really very angry. My insides are being wound up to breaking point.

National Blog Posting Month - May 2010Last month was a blog washout because of where I was.

This month might be a blog washout because of where I need to go.

My May Jonathan Cainer horoscope says it all: “You can fix the one source of trouble that’s more daunting than all the rest. Focus on it. Don’t be distracted. Once that is sorted out (as it WILL be!) all else will fall into place.” It’s like he read my mind. I know what I have to do, and it’s time I actually did it.

Stick with me, though. I *will* be back, but it might be June. (Then again, it might turn out that I get really chatty during May. 😉 Look up, look waaaaay up.)

Call me crazy…

National Blog Posting Month - March 2010…but I’ve decided to try to tackle NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) again. If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know that, for a couple of months in late 2008 and early 2009, I tried to blog every day. It can be tough to do, but it’s good for improving your discipline if, like me, you frequently just don’t get around to writing.

So, starting tomorrow, I’ll be attempting to write at least one post every day for the 31 days of March. I can’t guarantee that all (or even any) of them will be brilliant, but I plan to pick through the many, many, MANY half-written posts sitting in my Drafts folder. That’s a win-win for everyone.  🙂

I think I’m officially “a blogger”

Almost the entire time that I was in Toronto earlier this month, I was working out in my head how I’d blog about whatever it was I was watching or doing. If I’d been there on my own, I’d’ve hauled out my netbook and done it right then and there, but Nik was already glaring at me because I was fidgety — I don’t think she was impressed when I told her what was going on in my head when I was supposed to getting enlightened.

And by the time we got back to the hotel room, there was no time on my own to write everything down. (Yes, I could have written it by hand, but that’s journalling, not blogging — besides, I can’t handwrite fast enough to keep up with my brain and I’d never get around to transcribing my notes either.) I kept forgetting to take my camera with me, which ruined the blog posts in my head. (They needed visuals, dammit, and I blame XUP for that because her posts always have visual aids.) By the time I was home, there was little point in writing the posts I’d had in mind (the moment had passed) so I just wrote the one.

The lesson I learned is that I need a BlackBerry with a built-in camera so that I can write surreptitiously when the urge hits me. Now I just need the job that will allow me to afford that. 😉


(ooh, hey, on a completely unrelated and mostly irrelevant note, today is the day I was supposed to be born 44 years ago, but I held out until the sun had just moved into Taurus. When I’d made the decision that it was time, my mother barely had time to get through the traffic to the Halifax Infirmary — I was almost born on the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge. I like to think I waited so that I could give my older Aries brother a hard time, as only a stubborn cuspal Taurus-Aries can do to an Aries…we know ALL the buttons to push.  ;-))

The down side to anonymity

I’d considered before what would happen if someone I know in Real Life attended one of the  Ottawa blogger breakfasts, too, but that seemed to be an outside chance. Now I realize that it not only has an outside chance, it’s a dead certainty.

And that leads to my conundrum. If I attend one of these breakfasts, I either have to be answerable to my real name or I have to ask people that I might know to pretend they don’t know me. One exposes who I am (defeating the purpose of having a semi-anonymous blog) and the other is just plain weird. So, the only real option I seem to have is to just not go. Or restart my old, non-anonymous personal blog so that I can actually attend as myself.

Drowning in drafts

I have a lot of e-mail accounts that I use for various purposes. Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, organization-specific, work-specific, job hunting-specific, hosted domains — I like to keep the various parts of my life separated. My primary account is a Yahoo account that I’ve had since I first got online in 1998. I’ve paid for a premium account since about 2001 so that I can use that account to reply from my various addresses from the same place, and so that I can keep an archive of all of my e-mails from all of those addresses that is accessible from anywhere. Currently, the Yahoo account holds over 65,000 e-mails, including 121 drafts that have never been finished or sent.

(I know that that looks like yet another serious hoarding problem, but it’s really only a minor hoarding example. Yes, it needs a good clean-out — there are probably only about 20,000 e-mails that must be kept — but I have frequently had to refer back to e-mails I sent or received several years ago so having a long-term archive in general is not an issue. Better an electronic archive than a printed one, which is what I used to do.)

The drafts are a little worrisome. Especially when I see that I’m rapidly building up a comparable drafts pile here on this blog. I have started but then not published over 60 posts here. Some may yet see the light of day — some I could have sworn I’d already published — but most, from last year, were about news articles or events that are no longer relevant. My goal for February 2009 (as a part of my dehoarding efforts) then is to go through those draft posts, delete the ones that are now pointless, and rescue the ones that can still have life breathed into them.

Pingback spam

I’ve noticed an increased tendency lately for people to place links to other blogs within their blog posts on a temporary basis. The link only remains for a few minutes but it’s enough to trigger a pingback request in the other blog. I presume they hope that the other blog either automatically accepts pingbacks or that the owner of the blog won’t check the origin of the pingback.

Got a pingback request from someone earlier today who is clearly employing those tactics. Lord knows how long a link to this blog actually existed but it is long gone now — their post was from January 9 but they’ve obviously been updating it regularly to change the links within it as both of the current links are from a week or more after the post was published; one of them is from today. I’m used to seeing that kind of behaviour from spam blogs — you know, those blogs that contain no content of their own but just scrape other blogs for content — but this is the first time I’ve seen it coming from someone who appears to have legitimate blog. Employing that kind of tactic just makes it look as if your blog is junk. After all, if you have to trick people into visiting you, how worthwhile is your content?

I know that this kind of thing has been going on for a few years, but this is my first experience with it coming from a real person. Shame. It might have been a blog I’d have linked to had the pingback been legitimate.

End-of-year blogging stats

This blog certainly isn’t in the same league with the more popular blogs. My view stats are probably quite humourous when compared with them. But the growth is more important to me than the numbers.

Life Beings at 41 monthly stats graph up to December 2008

You can see that I really didn’t do much with the blog until early 2008. (Views prior to that were primarily just friends dropping by.)

Stats by year:

  • 2006 = 28 views, 27 posts
  • 2007 = 626 views, 61 posts
  • 2008 = 11,437 views (1/2 that just in last three months), 234 posts

Total: 12,215 views, 322 posts, 188 comments, 490 tags (I didn’t start tagging consistently until late April 2008 so I’ve been going back through the old posts over the last couple of days adding the missing tags — it’s going to take me awhile to get them all updated. You can see that the view counts started going up when I started tagging — that wasn’t the only reason for the growth but it certainly helped. Let that be a lesson to you.)

Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep up the momentum. NaBloPoMo is helping in that it’s making me more conscious of keeping up with posting. By the way, the NaBloPoMo theme for January is CHANGE.