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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The end of the beginning

As Winston Churchill put it, "This is not the End.  It is not even the Beginning of the End.  It is, perhaps, the End of the Beginning."

With this entry, I finish my participation in the December version of NaBloPoMo 2008.  It has been worthwhile; once again, as with NaPodPoMo, I've had demonstrated to me that one only inspires interest by continually producing interesting content.  And "continually" is the operative term here.

Someone once pointed out that for a blog to be successful, it has to be consistent in content, but also consistent in producing new content.  For all the claims of SEO mavens, Google mostly looks for continual production of new content.  For all the contentions of quality-over-quantity mavens, if you don't have sufficient quantity, no one will notice your quality, or at least not as many folks will.

For 30 days I produced one podcast a day.  For 31 days I produced one blogpost a day.  I have seen more interest in both cases, simply because there was more to be interested in.  Certainly, I could have produced better-quality and more interesting content.

But that would demand I actually know something.

Not happening this year.  Maybe next year.

Griz


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Brown Recluse

I've noticed something that's kinda troubling.  Since I've been laid off, I've essentially never left the house.

This is not a good sign.  While I'm still blogging, still podcasting, still Twittering, still doing alla the online stuff I usually do, I'm not going anywhere, outside of the occasional cigarette run.

How the heck do I get up to speed on a new job, or even find a new job, when I don't even leave the house?  Add to that, it's not particularly good for me to just sit at home all day.  Should really get out and go somewhere, anywhere, just to break the cycle.

I'm very much lacking in social skills, and if I don't exercise what little I have, I lose them.  Happened once, a few years back.  Wasn't pretty.

This reclusive behavior has really gotta stop.  The Internet is not the world.  Even if the world outside is cold, it's still the world.

(sigh)


Monday, December 29, 2008

Another big storm?

We're supposed to get another moderately big snow today, with more on Wednesday, they say.  Mostly, it'll be a wind problem.  Blowing snow is always a worry, especially travelling around here.

My sister and I are supposed to go up to Mom's in Silver Bay in the next few days.  The "Winter Weather Advisory" is mostly for north of Duluth, but it extends as far east as Silver Bay.  So driving up there is liable to be worrisome.  And if the snow persists up through the rest of the week, who knows?

We each got Mom a big present this year.  I got one that arguably will be more fun for me than her, but it'll be a good thing for her to have, one of those things it'd be marginally irresponsible for me not to get for her.  Although my sister says I'm kidding myself, she doesn't have the technical background to understand, really; no offense, just sayin'. 

My sister got her something I recall Mom saying she was considering getting.  Even if she doesn't use the full capabilities, it'll still be useful -- and it looks very nice, too.  Gotta be careful what I say about the gifts; dunno if Mom reads my blog, and I don't want to spoil the surprise!  ;-)


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

I'm mentally working through the idea of doing more frequent podcasts.  Again.

I said I was going to do that at the end of NaPodPoMo, but then I didn't manage to have a book ready to record for "Stories from the Hiber-Nation."  I still don't have a book picked, so I'd imagine I'm unlikely to get anywhere near daily on that podcast.  But it seems like a good idea.  I notice that since I did 30 podcasts in 30 days, my listenership has gone up tremendously -- not Feedburner-detected subscribers, but listeners who go to the website to download shows.

I am also learning the true meaning of "the Long Tail."  The biggest recent show I've had is 60 listeners.  But go back to the earliest shows, I've got one with nearly 500 downloads over the past two years.  Eventually, everyone listens to "The Lost Episode."  Didn't think it was that big of a deal at the time, and in fact, I was thinking then I'd just pull it back down after a few days.  Still don't know why people still listen to that, though I suppose it was a rather intense, personal show.  But folks still do. 

The other big show is episode 17, "Infinite Diversity."  I suspect that's all about TR Kelley's music.  The audio on my talking is a bit crappy, but the music turned out well, and I "went deep" on TR's music and background.  Wish I could do more of that.  And then there's Episode 43, "Some Days You Eat the Bear," which has an incredible number of listeners.  That's another one that stumps me.

And every show I've ever recorded has been listened to at least twice this month, and is listened to multiple times every month.  That's the long tail.  Do enough small projects with a little bit of interest at a time, it can really add up quickly.

It's almost a shame I can't set up one of those pre-roll-advertising redirects with my Libsyn-hosted page.  I just might have enough traffic there to inspire some advertiser interest.  Wouldn't get rich, but it might pay the podcasting bills.  Actually, the podcasting bills are the least of my worries.  It really isn't very expensive to do what I'm doing now.  There's more I could do there, and I have a friend who's been strongly suggesting (shall we say) that there are projects I could start rather straightforwardly, that could lead to potential business.  It wouldn't be impossible to turn podcasting into a small business -- not a living, but a small business.

And maybe a living.  I can still dream.




Saturday, December 27, 2008

My next big promotional idea -- and a Win-Win Proposition, too!

I have a wonderful plan.

I just started following @ScottMonty on Twitter, the Ford Motor Company social media guy. And that got me thinkin'. Ford has lots of trucks, and their sales have fallen off a bit with the current economic situation. I have a podcast, and listeners have fallen off cause I'm kinda boring...

So, how about this: Ford gives me a Ford F150, no wait, make it a Superduty, that's the big one, right? And I do a promotional giveaway on my podcast. I get listeners, they get Social Media Buzz, everybody wins. I mean, sure, they could do that on one of the really big podcasts, but where's the news value in that? This would be Really Big News, now wouldn't it?

I can't see any reason why Ford wouldn't go for that, can you? But I'll have to ask the folks who make the Grizzly ATV, too.




Friday, December 26, 2008

Four Walls Around Me

Listening to an old James Taylor song (there's another kind?), "Bartender's Blues:"

I need four walls around me, to hold my life,, to keep me from going astray,
And a Honky-Tonk Angel to hold me tight, to keep me from slippin' away.

Yeah, that's about right. Right now I'm laid off from work, and I know I could well do better finding a job somewhere else. Even in good times, this is a bad place to be unemployed. And these aren't good times. But here, I have all my stuff in messy piles around me, and I have a pretty good idea where it all is. That's important to me.

The other day, I was watching "Mozart & the Whale" on my DVD player. (Got it from Netflix, and now my sister's mad I signed up for it. Oh, well, just wanted to see that one film.) At one point in the film, Isabelle cleans up Donald's (thoroughly filthy) apartment. She even replaced his (slimy) shower curtain. Donald comes home and sees all that neatness, and freaks out. "I thought you'd like it," Isabelle says, bewildered. And Donald shouts, "You stole my life!"

Aspie thing. You wouldn't understand.

Or maybe you would?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Translations for Christmas

Added yet another Cool Feature! Consider it a Christmas present.

I added a script from Yahoo Babelfish that translates the page(s) into a dozen or so different languages. I don't know if anyone not reading English will be interested, or will even find the page, since the original language is, of course, English. I found it when trying to read a German-language webpage, the only page I could find on one particular topic.

But it was easy to do, and I thought it might be useful for some people. Hope you get some good use out of it. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twas the Morning Before Christmas

I'm supposed to go to my sister's late husband's family's house for Christmas Eve dinner. I didn't really get them anything. I did make one of my Audio Christmas Cards, but that's it. I'm tempted to bring along my computer, just so I have something to do.

I will bring along my audio recorder and digital camera, of course. Let's not be unreasonable here. And hey, that'd give me a reason to bring along the laptop, so I could record the party and then burn a CD of it! Yeah, that's a good excu... reason.

I hope you're all happy and warm as you can be this Holiday Season. It's been a stressful holiday for me (that not-currently-employed thing), though I think I did at least one thing rather well, the "Audio Christmas Card" podcast episode. Hope you downloaded a copy, since I didn't send you a card as such. I didn't send anybody else cards, either.

Oh, well, Christmas comes but once a year -- thank the PTB -- and then we get to enjoy the coldest part of winter.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Audio Christmas Card

As I've mentioned, I'm laid off. Don't have much in the way of cash. Still getting Unemployment, but that's no where near what I was making fulltime, when I was fulltime.

Wanted to get a few things for a few people, at least something for all the usual suspects. Spent some money on Mom, because she's Mom. Spent some money on my sister, because something perfect for her came up, and it wasn't too expensive.

I found an alternative. While I don't have money, I do have recording gear, a CD burner, blank CDs, a working inkjet printer, and regular paper. So I did an Audio Christmas Card. I kinda cheated on it, granted. I recorded a Christmas story for my "Stories from the Hiber-Nation" podcast, for the Christmas episode, tonight. The story came out well enough and pretty enough and sentimental enough, that was what inspired me to create the Audio Christmas Cards.

I also Googled for "CD Sleeve Templates," and found a post describing how to format a sheet of 8 1/2 X 11 paper so it can be folded into a CD sleeve. Added a bit of artwork, burned a CD with only the story part, not the intro or extro, folded it up inside, and "Bob's yer uncle." And I can repeat that till I run out of blank CDs. Got lots of paper and a new ink cartridge.

The CDs could be prettier. The sleeves could look more expensive. But this much, I could do.

Merry Christmas, fellow unemployed folk!

Griz

Monday, December 22, 2008

Nothing Goes As Planned

A short while ago, I spent $25 to order a pop filter from eBay. I've been having a real problem with pops when saying P-words while recording my podcasts.

Last night, I went to Radio Shack and spent $3 on a "wind filter." It's basically a little "cap" made out of "audio foam," that you put over the top of a microphone, to block wind, especially when you're going to be recording out of doors. I'd lost the wind filter that came with my H2 recorder, shortly after I got the thing. I tried to replace it with a random piece of foam.

Turns out, with the wind filter on there, I don't get pops anymore. (sigh) So now I have a $25 pop filter that serves no particular purpose for me. I suppose I'll give it a try, to see if it helps anything. Can't return it and get the $25 back; it is eBay, after all.

I really shouldn't be allowed to have money.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Shopping

Went out with my sister tonight, to do some Christmas shopping.

I didn't really accomplish much. I got something fairly expensive for my Mom, but I don't know if she'll understand why it's necessary. I have some other stuff to do related to that, and the additional stuff might make it more worthwhile for her.

I got something moderately expensive for my neighbor. He might actually appreciate it. He'd borrowed something from me a while back, and so got him something similar, figuring he ought to get some use, or at least some fun, out of it.

I have a phenomenal number of young relatives, and I have no idea what to get for kids these days, and if I did know, I wouldn't be able to afford it anyway. Stuff is so expensive, and I'm unemployed at the moment. The real young babies, they I understand even less. I'd get the wrong thing.

I dunno what to get my sister. There's probably nothing appropriate. And I hardly ever see my brother or his wife & kids anymore, so I dunno what they'd want, and again, I probably couldn't afford anything.

I hate Christmas. Except, there's pie. I like pie.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Why I like MediaMonkey


Didn't have anything else to talk about today, but I wanna make sure to post something, and I was just sitting here listening to my next 97 hours of podcasts on MediaMonkey, and I thought, "Hmmm..."

I've been using MediaMonkey again for what, a week or three now. I say "again," because I started using it quite a while back, then gave up on it. It was fine for playing audiofiles I already had. But I had to cope with downloading alla my many podcasts, and then try to get MediaMonkey to handle them properly.

I tried several other options for the podcast-aggregation process. The system that should have worked best was PodcastReady. They do have some seemingly well-conceived products, including especially "MyPodder." Works on almost any computer, almost any MP3 player that can be managed as an external harddrive. Doesn't work in Vista, though, and my computer runs Vista, so I was out of luck there. Their other product, "AutoPodder," works under Vista. But it doesn't work reliably. In fact, it would periodically lose all its setup information, and I'd have to start over.

I looked at "Juice Receiver," free form Sourceforge.net, very capable, and almost what I wanted. Insists on storing MP3's in folders by show/album name, and apparently not configurable to do otherwise. Didn't like that, so I dropped it.

It was about that time I remembered MediaMonkey from years earlier. Thought it was at least worth a look.

First of all, MediaMonkey is up to version 3.06, so it should be very stable and reliable, and that's been my experience. It had its roots as a music file/MP3 manager, and the Podcast-specific stuff is a later addition. They claim it can manage as many as 50,000 files, and I don't doubt it.

It reads the metadata inside MP3 and other sorts of files, and indexes all your audio based on all the main ID3 tags. It also offers user tools for changing the tags in your files, and a substantial number of user-configurable, additional tags, also indexed. This offers tremendous flexibility in searching your collection. You can create playlists based on any parameters the program can identify and has indexed.

It has built-in CD ripping and indexing capabilities. You can either have the program index the music on your CD collection, or rip digital copies of your CD audio and index that, or both. I only own 4 music CDs these days, so I used that functionality, but certainly didn't stress it much.

It also has CD Burning options. So, you could rip your CD collecti0n, build a playlist of your favorites from all your CDs, and burn a CD "mixtape" with only your favorites. Haven't used that, but I have my pack of CD-R's sitting next to the laptop for Some Day Real Soon Now.

What I do use, heavily, is the podcast subscription options.

Setting up a subscription is fairly simple, and can be made lots simpler. From the Podcasts menu, select "Subscribe to new Podcast." Give the setup screen the link to the RSS feed, MM goes and gets the show title and description from the feed. Uncheck "Customize this podcast," and it will be handled according to the current "Global Podcast Options."

Currently, I am subscribed to 122 podcasts, including a half dozen audiobooks from Podiobooks.com. Yikes! I set Global Podcast Options to check all 122 subscriptions once an hour. If it discovers new content, it downloads the latest file. And if any podcast file is over 1 day old and already listened to, it is deleted in the update process. So I don't have a bunch of old podcasts I won't be listening to taking up space on my harddrive. Sounds simple when you put it that way, huh? It took me most of a week to figure that out.

Through Global Settings, Media Monkey can hold onto old files for a week, a month, or a year, or simply never delete them. It can also delete shows that are, say, 1 week old, even if you haven't listened to them, as far as you know. That way, you can ignore past shows you'll never catch up on anyway. This is particularly handy if you subscribe to something like AP's hourly news podcasts. One podcast an hour can pile up really quickly, even if they're short.

You can also manually download any or all the files listed in a Podcast feed. For example, I just subscribed to Coffee Break Spanish. Lovely show, teaches one Spanish bit by bit. Unfortunately, I subscribed 10 weeks after they started over from the beginning, and Show 10 was pretty much unintelligible. So I went back and told MM to download Episodes 1 - 9 inclusive. "Hola! Que tal? Bien, Grathias!" (It's Spanish from Spain, not Mexico.)

Now, let's suppose, like me, you subscribe to the main TWIT.TV feed. All their different shows in one feed. With Media Monkey, I'm fine, I can separately configure any subscription. In this case, I told the system to download 10 files whenever there's new content. And, apparently, it successfully ignores files it's already downloaded, even then.

If I want to listen to my podcasts my usual way, that would be all of them, oldest-to-newest. So I set up an AutoPlaylist that does the searching and sorting for me. Periodically, I tell MM to update my "Now Playing" list from that AutoPlaylist.

Use an MP3 player, maybe? How about an iPod or iPhone? Media Monkey is fine with those last two, they say; I don't know, I don't own one. But it copes with my generic $30 MP3 player by treating it like an external drive. I pick and choose which podcasts I want kept up-to-date on the player, and then have MM fill the remaining space with randomly-selected music from my ripped CDs. It maintains a list of the files that should be on the player, prompts me to delete any it thinks should be taken off, and does this automagically whenever I shove an SD card in the slot on my laptop. Or, I can tell it to update from a Playlist, say that AutoPlaylist I mentioned.

Lately, I've been listening to my podcasts on my laptop, since I've been off work and don't go out much at the moment. The internal player is currently loaded with 96 hours of podcasts of various lengths, and is playing them in sequence old-to-new, while periodically adding new ones on the end. It acts very nearly like a radio that plays only stuff I want to listen to. Sure there are web-based options that will do this. But MediaMonkey would work for another 96 hours even if I was nowhere near a WiFi Hotspot; the files are already local, stacked, indexed and organized for continuous playing.

I can set in detail the filenames and folder structures MM uses to store the files, including the option of just keeping the filenames the original feed uses. And I have the option I wanted in the first place, just save all the files in the root directory on my SD card for entirely straightforward management as I choose. Which gives me the further option of using the same setup to create a card for either my Motorola GPX or my Palm Tungsten E, which also works as an MP3 player.

It also has built-in support for various Internet Radio sites, configurable inside the program. It doesn't do video (yet). But it will play the audio from some video files, MP4 files being a noteable example.

Sounds pretty formidable, huh? Well, yes, it is, and that'd be the downside. The program is massive. It is likely Media Monkey will do what you're likely to want to do, but there's a significant learning curve. So, if you're like me, an inveterate tinkerer, you'll be fine with this program.

I think this program does everything my Mom would want for listening to podcasts. But she's not very technically savvy, and I think this program would intimidate her. I'd have to see if I could get it all configured so it'd do it all automatically, with essentially no intervention by her, other than clicking the Play button. And I'm not so sure that's possible.

I use the Free version. There's also a Gold version, with several more options fully implemented. There may be options I don't even know I don't have, because I've never tried them. I dunno if the paid version is worth it, but I think the Free version of Media Monkey is worth trying. As I said, if you like fiddling, this is your fiddle.

Griz

Friday, December 19, 2008

Young Junius

I'm currently listening my way through "Young Junius," an audio novel by Seth Harwood. It's sort of a prequel to Seth's first "dead tree" novel, "Jack Wakes Up," and the rest of the Jack Palms series, all of which have been previously available on Podiobooks.com.

In "Jack Wakes Up," Junius Ponds was a player, a mover and shaker in a dark world. In "Young Junius," we see him as just a kid in a dangerous world, where trouble, crime and death are part of the neighborhood. When his brother Temple is killed in the street, Junius goes to Marlene, the Oracle, to find out why and by whom. And things pretty much go downhill from here.

I listened to book one, "Jack Wakes Up," and loved it. I listened to book two, "This is Life," and liked it. Different tone, different style. I listened to Jack Palms 3 -- don't know if it ever got a formal title -- and didn't finish it. Got too violent for me, about halfway through. Too many people, and one in particular, loving violence, cruelty, and causing pain. I'd imagine people who aren't me might like the third book as well as the other two. And some might like it better.

This book hearkens back to what I liked about "Jack Wakes Up." There's violence here, people die. But no one takes joy from it -- it's just something you do, when you have to. It's a different world than where I live, though not so different from some places I've lived in the past.

Young Junius is clearly the boy who becomes the man we see in "Jack Wakes Up." He doesn't entirely understand the world he's fallen into, but at least he knows that. And he knows that he's been put into a situation he really can't control, and doesn't want. But there's stuff he's got to do, and it'll be ugly. It's do or die.

I recommend you check out "Young Junius" on Podiobooks.com, if you've listened to the Jack Palms series first. And if you haven't, well, you can appreciate this book without the first three. But they'd be a good place to start.

Come to think of it, the first book in the series, "Jack Wakes Up," will be available in paperback via Amazon.com, coming up in May 5, 2009. And to think all Seth's success was due to my reviews! ;-)

Here's a link, if you wanted to pre-order.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A First Attempt at Voice Acting

Today, I got to record my first voice acting roles, for two audioplays done by a group called Misfits Audio. It was kinda cool, and Captain John Tadrzak, the producer/director, seems to have been quite pleased with my work. I suppose I have a bit of an advantage; I have the tools and experience to clean the files up a bit before sending them off.

It's a bit wierd-feeling, recording lines all by myself. When I used to do stage acting, of course, there were people to play off of. Not now. And of course, I always seem to sound much better before I start recording. Can't think why.

And now I want to do more. And I want it now!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A New Job, Maybe?

I signed up on Monday to go out for a job interview/testing today at a local company. I've actually tested and interviewed out there before, for two jobs at once, in fact. But they decided at the time to not hire me. That happens there. It usually takes several tries to get a job at that (rather large) company.

And how do I know that? A whole slew of folks who'd previously worked for my erstwhile current employers got hired away by that other company over the last several years. I still have, I hope, a number of folks to give as references for the job, who I've worked with in the past, and who work there now. In fact, the lady who hired me where I am now (more or less) works at the new place now.

So we'll see. It'd be a heck of a commute for me. But I knew that going in. And hey. It's a job, and even pays well!

In further news, I decided to drop my membership at Voice123.com. It turns out the free membership there, apparently, just gives me the opportunity to link to their site, which helps them more than me. And I get informed of all the new projects they have. But I don't get invited to try out for them, and can't even be found in their search engine, unless I pay $300 or so for a Premium membership. Since I don't have $300 to blow on something so chancy, I quit the free account.

Use your own judgement.

As for me, I've been cast for an unpaid voice acting role in an audioplay coming soon to an Internet near you. So we'll see how that turns out, huh?

Griz

UPDATE: I missed the bus, so I missed my appointment. And they didn't have a day available for rescheduling. Oh, well. Next time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cars and Lightning

Listening to Leo LaPorte's radio show (via podcast), called "The Tech Guy." Fella just called in about his car getting hit twice in a minute or so by lightning. Leo brought up the old, mistaken assumption that cars are protected because of the rubber tires. Not particularly so., and I'm surprised Leo didn't catch that. Maybe he didn't want his listener to feel foolish?

Cars are (or have been) protected, not by the rubber tires, but by the steel bodies. With the massive voltages involved, wet rubber doesn't do that much, and certainly cars can and will be struck by lightening. The conductive body of the car does provide a better path to ground than the surrounding air, so the lightning is more likely to travel through the car than the air. Same with aircraft, even though they "aren't grounded." A path travelling through the body of the aircraft is electrically easier than a path through air, even wet air. Above and below the aircraft, the lightning is travelling through air, of course.

So, how are cars protected? Well, the metal box inside which you're sitting is lots more conductive than you are. The car's body acts as what's called a Faraday Cage. So the lightning is much more likely to travel through the metallic car body and around the human passengers.

And now I'm wondering -- cars are now made out of non-metallic materials, cause they're cheaper. Do cars still adequately protect their passengers from lightning?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Back in the Saddle


Ya know what I'm thankful for -- or at least I will be, I think?

If you've followed the blog from the beginning, you'll recall I used to do some stage acting. Even got paid a couple times. Never was good at all that eye-contact and physical coordination stuff, though.

Well, just a couple days ago, I auditioned for a audioplay being put together by Misfits Audio. And I got a part!

It's acting, a bit like radio acting in results. But I can record my lines here, send them across the InterTubes to the Producer, and it all gets massaged into a (hopefully) cohesive show on his end. I've got one or two "spear carrier" roles I might end up doing, and one fairly meaty role. Both comedies, so I can't really say "audio drama." And I don't have to schedule time to get to tryouts and whatnot., either.

This sounds like fun. I hope it still "sounds like fun" when I'm done recording it! ;-)

Yay! Now I've got something to be thankful for!

Griz

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Big Storm Today!

The news is claiming we're gonna get hit with a really big snowstorm today and tomorrow. They're talking maybe a foot of snow in some areas, with us getting maybe 6 - 8 inches.

Been a while since we've seen any real snowstorms. We used to get huge storms several times a year. These days we might get one significant storm a year. Otherwise we have bare ground and deepfreeze temperatures. This is not good for the crops, the lawns, or the pipes; we've seen a lot of burst waterpipes over the past few years, seems like.

I plan on taking some nice pictures with the digital camera I was given by a friend/fan/fellow podcaster last year. I've never been much for taking pictures. But hey, got the camera, got a Flickr account, got a whole bunch of places I'm expected to put photos, guess I oughta take some, huh?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

ON Second Thought


After listening to my previous review of Terry Fallis' book, "The Best Laid Plans," and listening to the rest of the book, I decided I was dissatisfied with the review. So I'm going to be recording a followup review as part of my next show. I'll also be recording a review of at least one other audio book.

I'm fine with that. It's not the first time I've done a followup review of a book, once I've finished it. And I'm not quite as articulate as I may sometimes seem. When I wrote the original review, I didn't say what I meant to say. Unfortunately, with podcasts, I don't get to go back and change them after posting them. I suppose I could, but X copies are already out in the wild with the old info.

Likewise, I suppose I could go back and edit the blogpost with almost exactly the same review, but I think I'll wait and let the followup podcast review speak for itself.

Griz

Friday, December 12, 2008

Voicework?

Yesterday, I created a new account on Voice123.com, a site for voice actors to find work, and producers to find voice actors. Haven't finished setting everything up yet.

I really like the idea of working as a voice actor. I'm told I have a good voice for some purposes. I recall one young lady suggesting I'd be good at "down-home, folksy" political ads, or words to that effect. I picture something like Wilford Brimley did not too very long ago. I'm not as old as he, but that's a good thing -- good for me, anyway.

I'm still pretty much clueless as to how one starts at such things, but I suspect that's always the case. In any field of endeavor, I find, one never really knows how to start until long after one is in the full flow of a career. Then one has plenty of advice to offer the new folks -- who won't be able to understand the advice well enough to take advantage of it, till they in turn are well into it.

Since I haven't actually done any voice work yet, I don't have any samples or demos to offer. But I think I'll take advantage of what I do have. I have the promos from my own podcasts, plus a dozen I recorded for play on other folks' podcasts, to see if I can inspire in their listenership interest in listening to my offerings.

I only have a vague idea why anyone would want to listen to my shows, but I'm getting there. Right now, I have 78-or-so subscribers total, 19 subscribed only to "Grizzly's Growls," 21 subscribed only to "Stories from the Hiber-Nation," and 38 subscribed to the main feed, which includes both. I'm assuming no one would subscribe to both single feeds, or to a single feed and the combined feed. Not really sure, though.

Anyway, I at least have those promos to offer as "demos." Not what your average voice actor would have. But who says I'm your average voice actor?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Just as I suspected

Just stopped by the "Minnesota Works" website, part of trying to find a new job, as I've mentioned. And guess what.

11,300 Position Openings. 46,881 Active Resumes.

"Well, there's yer problem!"

Granted, my own resume has been active for all of the last six years, while I've been employed. And "Position Openings" are only open a short while, till they're closed. But even so, it kinda boggles the mind, huh? I gotta find something, though, don't I? I gotta try. And I might get some luck. You never know.

I gotta get a haircut and trim the beard, too. It's fine to be an older guy with long hair and a beard if you already have a job. But job hunting, looking like this? Probably a bad idea.

It's my considered opinion that the economy will recover a lot faster than most people think. I predict there'll be significant improvement in the economy by May. Give it a year, and a lot will be on the upswing. I'm just sayin'.

Meanwhile, I gotta get a new job. Something.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Okay, now you can worry

Just recently, I got an email from my employers. The office where I work will be closing early next year, and I'll be out of a job. All the work goes to HQ in another state, for efficiency reasons, they say.

I am still, technically, temporarily laid off due to Lack of Work. But my employers say it is highly unlikely there will be any work to which to return before they close the office in February. So now I'm officially looking for work. And of course, this is a lovely time to be looking for work; I'll have lots of company, won't I?

Sympathy would be appreciated, and thanks in advance. Or, if you'd rather, I've still got the "Donations" link on my websites. I've even added subscription-type donations, $1 a month and $5 a month. I have no idea why you'd want to, but you could. Certainly, if you're a fan of the podcasts, this does offer an opportunity to show appreciation and support.

So, what was the theme of this month's NaBloPoMo again? Oh, yeah.

Thanks!












Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Best Laid Plans - Review




I'm currently listening/reading my way through three different audio books at once. Was going to do one at a time, but I wanted some variety. They're all good, and all favorites, but for different reasons.

One is Terry Fallis book, "The Best Laid Plans." This is a political satire, and it's certainly not my first. It is, however, my first Canadian political satire.

Daniel is an experienced Liberal political activist who's worked for the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, who's become thoroughly disillusioned with top-level party politics. He decides to leave, but doesn't want to make enemies among the high & mighty. So he takes on one last task: to run a campaign in a Riding where there's a tremendously popular and charismatic Conservative incumbent. He isn't expected to win. He's expected to get a candidate, run a campaign, and fail gracefully, so the Party doesn't look bad.

I've read a fair number of political satires, and this book touches all the usual bases for such. There's our young and disillusioned Hero, the beautiful Love Interest, the bumbling Authorities, the smart-but-tired Old Wise Head, the two strange-but-noble Freaks (seems to me there are always two). And there's the idiosyncratic Candidate, who refuses to run a conventional campaign. I know how these usually end, and I suspect I know how this one will end.

Still...

I'd first come across Terry Fallis on his podcast, "Inside PR." He's a knowledgeable and respectable PR professional with years of experience, including experience in a position similar to our Hero. (I doubt the book is autobiographical, exactly.) Initially, it kinda threw me hearing his voice as a novelist, but I got used to it. He's also very well educated and articulate, and since our Hero Daniel (in the Lions' Den?) is a Ph.D. and English professor, that helps a lot.

The politics is interesting. Sure, it's Canadian politics, that's part of it's charm. The book is even educational, in that sense. I won't try to explain any of it to you, that's what the book is for, in part. And yet, there's plenty that's recognizeable to a Minnesota boy like me. I even ran as a candidate in a guaranteed-to-lose election once. Politiicians are politicians, sad to say.

The characters are charming. The "grumpy but loveable" candidate, Angus MacClintock, is also smart, well educated, clever, and inventive -- and no, they're not all the same thing. Look it up. The story is told from the first person Hero, which is also standard, but works well in this book.

One comes away with the feeling (as usual?) that one could wish more such people were involved in the political process on both sides of our border, and in all other countries as well. And maybe they are. One can hope, too.

I encourage you to listen to this book. It's available at Podiobooks.com and at author Terry Fallis' website, in both cases via podcast.

And also, of course, it's available in real, hold-it-in-your-hand book form through Amazon.com, through this link: The Best Laid Plans: A Novel

Monday, December 8, 2008

International Listening Year [I.L.Y.]


I wanted to share with you an idea I came up with today, called "The
International Listening Year
."

My first inspiration for the idea came from something called "the National
Day of Listening
," a project of the StoryCorps. StoryCorps is an
organization, connected (somehow) with NPR, that conducts an oral history
project. They've been travelling around the country for several years,
recording one-hour interviews with people from many walks of life --
usually older folks -- burning CDs of the interview, giving one copy to
the interviewee, and filing a copy with the Library of Congress.

I think this is a wonderful idea, and I recently subscribed to their
podcast to check it out.

They recently presented the National Day of Listening, on November 28.
This project was intended to inspire people across the country to do their
own one-hour recordings with their own families and significant other folk
with stories. Another excellent idea. They announced recently they've
extended the NDL through the Holiday Season, to encourage more
participation. I encourage interested parties to look into the NDL.

My first thought was, "Gee, any podcaster has hardware to do that, and a
portable like mine would be nearly ideal." StoryCorps does offer to rent
out hardware for the process, for $150. That'd just about buy one of
these Samson Zoom H2 Handy Recorders like I use.

My second thought, "No reason a podcaster couldn't do something similar,
and without rushing to participate in the NDL." So, what would be the
best way to do such?

Interviews are hard, harder than just saying your own stuff. They're
particularly hard for me, for reasons you may know. Beyond that, doing an
interview for a whole hour? As a one-off, an hour is almost easier to
record -- you don't have to think about what to include or throw out. But
if you want a good interview, you want to keep it shorter. And most
folks, I think, would be uncomfortable with trying to talk for a whole
hour, anyway.

But wait, five minutes? Everybody's got five minutes or so, don't they?
Lots of people have more. Not everybody has the hardware/software/skills
to make the recording, but We Could Fix That. If you record a half-hour
or an hour, you should be able to distill that down to at least a solid
five minutes, no?

So, recorded, five-minute interviews, with a similar set of interviewees,
and a similar content. But an independent project, produced by
independent podcasters with the will, the skills, and the hardware...

Now, one problem with the NDL is the limited audience. The interviews
StoryCorps records themselves get into the Library of Congress. The
recordings of everybody else don't. The recorder is expected to file the
recording away for future generations on their own. Which is fine, such
as it is.

StoryCorps, as I mentioned, does a Podcast with some of, "the best of,"
their own recordings. As far as I know, they don't use the NDL recordings
for that. They do post a minimal number to their website, but relatively
few. So much is lost, and so much more could be done.

Keep in mind I was thinking about this after finishing National Podcast
Post Month, and starting National Blog Post Month. I already was familiar
with the Social Network idea, and what others have done with Ning to
handle such event-based networks. And that suggested the idea of creating
a Social Network to produce these five-minute interviews.

A "National Month of Listening?" Thirty interviews in a month? Not
bloody likely. Maybe a "National Year of Listening?" Not every day, say
one per month, or perhaps just twelve within the year. Plenty of time to
find twelve really good interviews -- not with the celebrities that get
interviewed all the time, but with folks that might otherwise never get to
tell their story.

Hated the name. Thought back to the Donald Fagen song, reoorded by Steely
Dan, "IGY." The International Geophysical Year. The year I was born, a
scientific event better described elsewhere -- but also a celebration of a
more hopeful view of the future than we've had since. And a favorite song
of mine. I want my Spandex jacket and flying car!

Thus:

The "International Listening Year" is a social-network and Podcasting
challenge. Starting in January 2009, participants commit to record at
least twelve, five-minute interviews, with twelve different people
(probably) who don't normally get asked for their stories, and to offer
those five-minute interviews as podcasts.

As I mentioned, I created a Social Network on Ning,
http://ilyear.ning.com. Also, as I did for NaPodPoMo (sort of) and
NaBloPoMo, I created the mechanisms for a collective podcast feed for all
ILY participants. Should work quite simply, I think. (I've made
something similar work before.)

If you are currently a podcaster, this should be quite doable -- you'll
have a whole year. If you can do more than twelve, that'll probably be
fine. But what I'm hoping for is that each five-minute recording is the
best you can make it, worthy of the trust of your subjects, and
demonstrating your respect. The "traditional" first six, after all, would
be Grandma and Grandpa on both sides of the family, and maybe Mom and Dad.

Or make your own list. "This is Liberty Hall; you can spit on the mat,
and call the cat a Bastard." But if this thing "has legs," you might wish
later you'd given it your absolute best. And the standard five-minute
length makes sense to me; one problem we had with keeping up listening to
the NaPodPoMo shows was, some shows could be an hour, or even two hours
long. Don't tire out Grandma.

The collective feed will be a limited aggregate feed of participant's
regular RSS feeds (through Yahoo Pipes and Feedburner), including no more
than X of your most recent ILY recordings, each simply marked for the
aggregator to find (explained later) -- so your content stays on your site
and in your feed. With sufficient participation, the collective feed
might have to be cut back to only your most recent recording, just to keep
Feedburner from choking on the size of the thing.

Since it's the International Listening Year, that means anyone in the
world could (potentially) participate. (Languages? Hmmm...) And the
year starts, naturally, on January 1, 2009. So does the project.

Wonder how you get stuff into the Library of Congress? Or Archive.org?

Comments can go to my blogpage, my Podcast's page, or via email. I look
forward to your interest in taking up the challenge. The Ning group is up
and more-or-less ready for business. Anybody else like this idea?
Suggestions? Refinements?

Griz

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The "Stranger" Problem

Just recently listened to Spider Robinson's reading of John Varley's book, "The Persistence of Vision," on his "Spider on the Web" podcast. It reminded me of an objection I had to another Utopian story, and all other Utopian stories in general.

In "Vision," Varley's main character is a man in his late 40's, who is unemployed and decides to walk to California (in a different, recent past). On his way, he stumbles across a small commune in New Mexico. The commune is entirely populated by deaf and blind folks and their children. (Why is part of the story.)

This small, isolated community has developed a rather wonderful utopian society. They have learned to be so effective in communicating by touch that they simply can't lie to each other or conceal anything. They are utterly at peace with each other, financially self-sufficient, and of course, very happy. The hero becomes dissatisfied with his own place in this small world, and leaves. The citizens of the community develop essentially magical powers, not well-explained.

Anyway, like most utopian societies, it is absolutely possible such a place could exist. If you could create a financially self-sufficient, isolated community of deaf-and-blind folks with psychic powers.

I was reminded of reading Robert Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land" back in high school. In the story, they also create a small self-sufficient, apparently wonderful society, and all is just hunky-dory, due to the presence of Valentine Michael Smith, with magical powers. The English teacher who assigned the book (it was in Creative Writing class, I think), claimed that Charlie Manson used "Stranger" as some of his source material for his ideal world -- after "Helter-Skelter," the latter being not Utopian at all.

Hence The "Stranger" Problem -- "Stranger's" Utopia is absolutely possible -- if you can come up with a multi-billionaire orphan raised by giant, psychic slugs on Mars. I'd argue that "Starship Trooper" is another such Utopia -- you need universally noble Military veterans. I'm a veteran, and I'm not Universally Noble. or "Time Enough for Love." Got a 1000-Year-Old-Man with perfect genes handy? How about perfect body repair, and reliable human cloning, and so on, and so on?

Utopias are wonderful ideas, and "The Persistence of Vision" is a wonderful story. It is, arguably, a better story than "Stranger in a Strange Land." But when the potential existence of a Utopia depends on the existence or creation of a near-impossibility, then the Utopia is also a near-impossibility -- so near as to make no difference. One assumes otherwise at one's peril.

That said, if you don't assume you can treat that Utopia as an achievable whole, there are pieces and ideas in them that can be useful and may be achievable Some Day. That is the point of SF, if one looks for more than entertainment. By the same token, Dystopias, such as those described in Johnathan Swif't's "Gulliver's Travels" and other fantasies, can contain valuable bits and pieces about mistakes in existing societies, but are not documentary, simply explanatory.

By the way, Spider Robinson reads nearly as well as I do, and gets better books. ;-) So I recommend you jump out to his podcast page and listen to his reading of this and other stories.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Way too many feeds?

I have a little technical dilemma.

I am now the proud owner of eight Feedburner feeds:

Changeling Turkey -- Which was the feed for my first blog, Changeling Turkey, then an extra (and largely unused) feed to my current blog. As of now, it's a feed of both my regular podcasts plus the Odiogo-voiced, computer text-to-speech "podcast" of my Blog text.

Life and Times of a Minor Local Celebrity -- The main feed for my Blog.

Grizzlys Growls Podcast-Only -- Just my original "Grizzly's Growls" podcast.

Hiber-Nation Forward -- The "Stories from the Hiber-Nation" feed, but in First-to-Last Order.

NaBloPoMo -- The National Blog Post Month Collective Feed. (By the way, I just added a Blogroll of all the Feed participants to my blog, if you're curious.)

Stories from the Hiber-Nation -- The regular newest-to-oldest "Stories" feed.

The NaNaPooPoo Network -- An attempt at a Podcast Community, so participating podcasters can combine their efforts to promote the one feed, "A rising tide raising all boats," as they say.

The dilemma is probably settled. I couldn't figure out what the heck to do with the Changeling Turkey feed. But I had a way to combine all the different audio into one feed that Feedburner wouldn't choke on. So I figured, what the heck, probably no one will care. There were only two remaining subscribers, anyway.

But the question is reasonable. What commitment do I owe to even a small audience like those two, to keep that feed pointed at the content they subscribed to? If I do make a change like the one I made, is is immoral and unkind, or just an inconvenience? The only input I know of I got from those individuals was their initial subscription. And the only way I have of asking them, is to post something on the Blog, which'd go to all the people on the blog, most of whom see no change at all.

Maybe the change will be useful for people, say, who can't see and/or want all my content in audio. The Odiogo thing keeps the text as the "show notes" of the audio. Or maybe it'll be useful for nothing whatsoever. But I worry about being fair in these things.

I recommend Odiogo for bloggers who want something to experiment with. There's only a male voice, but it's okay, I guess. I like to fiddle with technical things. Often, it's pointless. Sometimes I think maybe alla this brilliance will appear valuable, someday, and I'll get a job out of it.

I'm not holding my breath.

Griz

UPDATE: And now I've added yet another feed, for the International Listening Year project, which is why [I.L.Y.] is on the subject of this message -- for experimental purposes. (sigh)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Clever Old Guy, Will Do Tech for Money

Day 5.

I have been lucky enough, for most of my life, to not own new or cutting edge computers.

Since the mid-70's, I've been fiddling with whatever computers I could get my greasy little fingers on. Initially, that was a time-sharing system through the local high school. Later on, I'd have whatever the latest (programmable) calculator I could afford. And I couldn't afford much.

I did, briefly, have three new computers, back in the First Home Computer Boom. Yes, there were two. In the first, lots of companies making game machines added keyboards, put in ROM-based BASIC (which is how Microsoft got their start), and called it a "home computer." It was, sort of. Those I had were Tandy Color Computers. And the ads at the time claimed that you hadda get your kid a computer, or they'd be behind the other kids in school, and would never get a really good job. Right.

During the Second Home Computer Boom, the market was dominated by IBM PC's and Compatibles, and by Apple's Macs. I couldn't afford the "real thing," but I could occasionally get someone's old or broken computer at a rummage sale for $50 or so. And, since I was starting with nothing, I really had to learn how to squeeze as much as possible out of this very old hardware. I wrote batch files, did a bit of programming, wrote my own mailmerge program for sending out resumes en masse. I couldn't afford to be afraid of breaking stuff, and had to learn what would and wouldn't foul up the computer.

So now, even though most of the stuff I know how to do is out-dated, I know enough of the fundamentals of why things work the way they do, I can puzzle out how to use the newer hardware and software, often better than other folks. And I can tell when things are just not working, as compared to being something I don't understand. The new hardware and software is created based on habits and ideas from the old hardware and software. So it's still helpful. Just not profitable, sad to say.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Public Health Care, and why USians have been robbed nekkid.

Day 4.

And it happens again. Oh, the big issue is how Old People feel about health care and public agencies taking responsibility for public health. So we're arguing about the annoying attitudes of old people. And we are NOT discussing the fact that private companies are robbing us blind, have been robbing us blind, and will continue to rob us blind. And the Government, funded by the thieves, say "buying from thieves is a Good thing!"

When do we say, "Okay, we're capitalists. We Capitalists, as compared to those shameful Communists and Fascists, think that folks who demand money should get no more than they can earn. And We Capitalists expect that putting ourselves in the best Capitalist position is best. And our best position, as Capitalists, is us doing our buying as a group. And the best possible group to deal with buying medication and medical treatment is All Of Us. And the best way to organize that group is to get the government we have to pay for ANYWAY to do that particular job for us. They're good at demanding money and being cheap bastards."

Why aren't we using that?

Why don't us oh-so-clever-and-informed capitalists say, damnit, we're PAYING you to sort this crap out, SORT IT OUT? Why are we ALLOWING these idiot employees of ours to mangle the obvious solution for dealing with OUR needs, which are of course paramount, because we damn-well pay for it?

Because we're stupid?

At least I can be thankful that I still have my health. So far. More or less.

Griz

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lots and lots of time...

Day 3. I now officially have Lots of Time to Blog. Seems I got put on a seasonal layoff, that might well last through the end of the year.

This is fine, financially, I think. I am eligible for Unemployment, and my employers never contest unemployment when it's due to Lack Of Work. And my Unemployment eligibility is figured IIRC based on the hours and money I was getting in the six months prior to the most recent six months. Now I've been working part-time, then I was working full-time, at the same hourly rate. And I'm not required to apply for other jobs; I am, after all, supposed to be returning to my old job.

Even though they figure based on 3/4 of my net pay, I'll still be making more, best as I can figure, than I would make if I was Actually Working. This is assuming I remember correctly how alla that Unemployment stuff works.

Of course, for NaBloPoMo, this gives me ridiculous amounts of time for blogging, as well as my usual podcasting. The term of the layoff is indefinite. They will probably call me early in January to come back to work. Or, they could call tomorrow and tell me to come back to work.

So, it should be all good. What could possibly go wrong?

Griz

UPDATE: Just did the online "paperwork" for unemployment. My eligibility turns out to be $175 a week. Not near what I'd make working. Oh, well, it's temporary. I should be thankful I have some Unemployment coming in, right?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanks!

I have never been too hesitant to take credit for the audio quality of my podcasts. I do read well, and the "Stories" have been pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. And I do, often.

Yet much of the quality comes from the nice hardware I get to work with. My sister bought me a brand new laptop, and a Samson Zoom H2 Handy Recorder, for a late Christmas present last year. About $1000 US for alla that. And the Zoom makes me sound much better than I used to. And the laptop makes editing a whole lot easier and faster.

So I have to say "Thank you" to my sister for that. I read and speak well enough to do right by the equipment. I gather folks like listening in particular to the "Stories from the Hiber-Nation" shows. But gotta give credit where credit is due.

Griz

Monday, December 1, 2008

NaBloPoMo

Now that I've struggled my way through NaPodPoMo, I figured the best way to get my rest was....

to start NaBloPoMo, National Blog Post Month. A blog post every day for 30 days. Oh, wait, December, 31 days. What's one extra day? Shouldn't be that hard.

Seems like it should be easier than the Podcasting thing. Writing is just one step in the process of Podcasting. And I managed 30 podcasts -- mostly not written by me, since I did "Stories from the Hiber-Nation" all the days I didn't do my regular show, and HN is me reading a book -- reading very well, but reading.

But all were recorded, edited, and posted by me. And the Grizzly's Growls shows were written by me, to the extent they were written.

Of course, this is about guaranteed to be Famous Last Words. Something will go wrong. Then again, nothing went wrong in November. What could possibly go wrong? ;-)

Griz

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Final Brick in the Wall

Okay, by this time, it's no secret I've been trying to complete National
Podcast Posting Month, or NaPodPoMo -- all thirty days of November,
a podcast every day? Well, I have effectively completed NaPodPoMo. I have "Stories from the Hiber-
Nation" set up for the rest of the month, and for several days into
December. Wanted to get that book, "Monarch," done, and now it's all there
waiting for you.

As a Glutton for Punishment, I keep thinking this should have been
harder. I think maybe I cheated. I didn't violate the rules; I did
in fact do podcasts for every day of the month. All the rules call
for is to "post some audio every day," any audio. If one wished,
one could go to one of the podsafe music sources out there, get 30
songs, stick on attribution, maybe a title & close, record and post
in advance, and you'd have legitimately fulfilled the basics. You'd
have actually surpassed the minimum. If your music selection is good,
you may well have an entertaining show.

From what I've seen, folks that just try to do the bare minimum simply
lose interest in short order. The minimum is boring. Add to that,
it's harder than it looks. It looks like you could just ramble on
in a mic for a few minutes each day, or record your basic anything
each day, and get through the month like a breeze. But I don't think
people can avoid the need to feel their show is entertaining, even
to only a handful of people.

So in terms of the one and only rule, I didn't cheat, or at least,
I didn't cheat NaPodPoMo or my fellow participants, or cheat our children
and children's children of their future. I cheated myself. Maybe.

Why? Why? It comes down to the best one can get out of The NaPodPoMo
Experience, as Jen from the Hypernonsense Podcast at HYPERNONSENSE
DOT COM describes it.

Think about it. First there was NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing
Month. A writer commits to writing 50,000 words toward a novel, within
30 days, starting with nothing. At the end of the month, you have
a sort of a novel. It may suck, it may not, but it's a novel, and
you've written one, as you've always said you would.

But also, if you really want to be a Novelist, to continue to write
novels as a regular thing, it is pretty much necessary that you write
almost every day -- and every day would be nice -- even if it's only
a little, and not 1666.67 words every day. The only way to learn
that habit is to just do it every day until it becomes second nature.
After NaNoWriMo, you've got a fair start on acquiring that habit.
At least you know what it feels like.

Then there was NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. Similar principle,
but instead of 1666.67 words, you have one Blog post each day. Seems
simpler, huh? Certainly involves less typing. But the Blogging thing
has its own paybacks. Nobody wants to just post something, they want
their Blog to be like the big ones, clever, meaningful, and entertaining,
even to a small audience. I don't really blog regularly, but I don't
really feel comfortable doing meaningless rambles on my blog. I do
them, but I'm not happy about them.

I also recall some "blogging expert" saying in an interview that for
a blog to really have a detectable presence on the Internet, the blogger
has to post every day. Google won't even notice you if you do less.
There'll just not be enough content to impact a search. Twice a
day is much more impactful, though more than that might be a bit
excessive.
Then again, how often do your local radio and TV stations do the
news, even a little newsbreak? Maybe a dozen times a day? How many
articles are in your local paper, even just the front page? That's
what people expect of a real information resource. To the extent
NaBloPoMo gets you into those sorts of habits, there's a real benefit.

And then there's us. NaPodPoMo doesn't ask for 1666.67 words a day,
or one Podcast a day. It asks for "some audio" every day. There
is nothing there that demands any particular level of quality, time,
or content. Just "some audio."

Most of us have tried to produce a real Podcast with a capital P every
day, even if it's just a short one. Or, more often, to paraphrase
Abraham Lincoln, "I'm sorry I recorded such a long Podcast today,
I didn't have time to write a short one."

So, what is the full benefit of participating in NaPodPoMo?

Well, there's the challenge. As I've said, after the first week or
two, you find out it isn't that easy to sustain even a "Dear Diary"
podcast every single damn day.

There's the cameradery. A whole bunch of people, all over the world,
all striving to reach the same goal, in competition only with themselves
and their own determination. There's value in that.

There's technical experience. Content every day means editing every
day, uploading every day, show notes every day, if you're doing it
right. And learning how to listen to and comment on other folks'
shows, and finding ways to keep track of all that other content you
really intend to listen to. I could seriously see NaPodPoMo as a
good opportunity for a person new to podcasting, if they actually
go ahead and do it. I know it's hard to get started podcasting, and
that most podcasts simply fade away after the first five-or-so episodes.
If you decide up front you're going to do 30 the first month, and
you succeed, you've gotten over that first hump, you've gained a lot
of experience, and you've probably learned a lot from a bunch of folks
who may have more experience, are willing to help, and are also most
likely trying something they've never tried before.

I've performed the tasks I mentioned, although I really haven't kept
up on the listening and commenting part. But there's something I
didn't do, something that even the "daily diary" podcasters did through
the whole month. I didn't write.

I did four regular "Grizzly's Growls" podcasts. I did 26 "Stories
from the Hiber-Nation" podcasts. The latter required recording, editing,
posting, shownotes, alla that. But it didn't require writing.

I think I had an opportunity to become a better podcaster overall
by actually creating new content every day, writing and editing, choosing
music, assembling the show, and then recording and doing all the other
stuff I did do. I think for me this could have risen to the real
Podcaster equivalent of NaNoWriMo. I really could have gained some
better habits about writing, and thinking about new subjects, and
maybe even doing some real research for my shows. And I didn't do
that.

Could I have done it? Could I have produced something resembling
my normal shows as a daily show? No, not a chance. But I might have
learned something valuable by trying it.

I cheated. That's me, Mr. Cheater Cheaty-pants. And I only cheated
myself.

I did gain some valuable experience, I enjoyed the challenge, and
if I did it again, I'd do it the same way. I like trying new stuff.
But I think I prefer succeeding at old stuff.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Expecting a Different Result

I went through an essentially disastrous situation last night, and this morning, and it never had to happen.

Last night, on the way to the bus, I stopped off to pick up some cigarettes. No big deal, right? Quick, I'm in, I'm out, I catch the bus, no problem.

Didn't have enough cash, so I went to the ATM machine. Put my card in, punched in my code: "This card not authorized on this machine." Hmmm...

Luckily, I had my Paypal Debit/ATM card. Never had to use it before, but this was the right time. Put my card in, punched in my code: "This card not authorized on this machine." Oh, okay, the machine must be broken.

Walked a block away, where there were two different ATMs from two different banks/ATM Networks. Both machines had out of order signs on them. This is where I nearly clevered myself to death. "Ah, must be some problem with all the ATM networks in this neighborhood. Went to my usual-hangout bar, not far away, they've got an ATM machine, too. It's close to my bus stop, but by then I think I'd already missed the bus. Needed them cigarettes, though.

Tried my regular card in their ATM. "This card not authorized..." Tried the Paypal card. "This card not authorized." Uh-oh. But this confirmed my oh-so-clever theory; all the ATM networks were Broken.

Figured I had one last option to try. The Paypal card has one a them MasterCard thingies on it. Tried to charge something at the bar on the card. Worked just fine. Of course. There's nothing wrong with the card, so there sure must be something wrong with all the ATM networks in the area. I'm not one to give up easily on an apparently clever idea.

So I sat at the bar and puzzled over why I couldn't use the ATM. Eventually I realized why the Bank's card stopped working. My bank had recently been bought by a larger bank, and the new guys must have cancelled the old guys' cards. Fine, makes sense. But the Paypal card doesn't work, either. So they must have changed the bank account, and Paypal can't access my bank account anymore. Obviously, of course. Sure. Except the credit card side kept working.

If I could just have gotten the cash, I would have called a cab and gone home. I was exhausted from a long night the previous night recording my "Grizzly's Growls" podcast, which hadda get done right then to keep me in the NaPodPoMo running. I was in no shape to be clever. But the bartender wouldn't give me the cash with a cash-plus thing for a charge on the Mastercard part that was still mysteriously working, because no one else was having a problem with the ATM, so there must be something wrong with my account. (Of course, she was wrong, too.)

I briefly walked back to the gas station where I'd started, and bought cigarettes with the credit card thingie, which worked fine. The cashier there couldn't give cash-over, either.

I was still stuck when the bar closed at 2:00 am and I was out on the cold, dark streets. I suppose I could have called someone to give me a ride, but I knew I would figure out the problem eventually, even if only on a couple hours sleep. It was VERY cold, or I would have simply walked home over the Bong bridge in the middle of the night. Yes, I've done that before. I prefer to fix my own problems. But it was just to damn cold for that, and of course I also wasn't wearing a warm enough coat.

I walked 10 blocks to the ATM machine at the bank of the New Guys, figuring maybe it'd be somehow more forgiving of a guy from their own bank. Neither card would work. I walked to a convenience store near the older bridge across the bay, and even tried their ATM, and again, neither card would work. But I was able to buy a couple breakfast sandwiches (it was now 4:00 am or so) with the MasterCard thingie, which was still working fine. Turned out only one of the cab companies I called would take a "credit card," and they were on the other side of the bridge and not authorized to pick up fares on the side I was on, so I was still stranded. I sat at the little table in the convenience store for another two and a half hours, and finally caught the first bus of the morning, getting home about 7:00 am, and falling into bed, way beyond exhausted.

I missed a day of work. When I finally woke this afternoon, I called my new bank, and they confirmed my old card had been deactivated. They claimed to have sent a replacement card for the new bank owners, but I never saw it. But they also confirmed that nothing at all had changed about the account otherwise, and the Paypal card should continue to work.

Einstein is supposed to have defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." I had repeatedly tried the bank card, and it repeatedly failed to work. I had repeatedly tried the Paypal card, and it repeatedly failed to work. I expected to figure out the problem, clever fellow that I am, though I'd been wrong over and over and over and over again, and none of my theories had fit all the facts. The MasterCard part of the card kept working fine.

Okay, we've come around the clubhouse turn, now let's cross the finish line. When I woke up this afternoon, I went to the Paypal website, and poked around with the configuration stuff for the Paypal debit card. Everything seemed to be just fine, as far as Paypal was concerned. And then I noticed the little mechanism they had for changing the PIN number.

I'd spent the entire night using the same PIN number for both cards. I'd spent the night assuming that of course I'd set the PINs the same, that's the easy way. I'd spent the night wandering in the cold, trying ATM after ATM, "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

To be fair, I'm not absolutely sure that the Paypal card had a different PIN. But I probably did that, though. I had never used the ATM-card thing in that card, because I'd never needed to; the old bank card worked fine. If I'd have once thought to try a different PIN, I could have simply gotten my cash and gone home. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the card, after all. And I've since changed the PIN on the Paypal card, so I know what it is now. The error messages on the ATMs just said "you can't use this card here," didn't say why.

For that matter, even if I knew the PIN was different, but had forgotten what the new PIN was, the Paypal site has a place for changing the PIN online, and the bar I was in had wireless Internet, which I used all that night. But it never once even flickered at the back of my mind that I might be using the wrong PIN. I never even considered it.

Insanity. I mighta froze to death. Luckily, eventually, I got "different results."

Griz

Update:
As it turns out, while using the correct PIN would have made the card work, it would not have gotten me any cash. Turns out the ATM card function only accesses cash already in the Paypal account. Unlike all other Paypal features, the ATM card does not reach out to my regular bank account to get the needed money. And I didn't have any cash in my Paypal account. I've since added some -- which got consumed by the Debit-card transactions -- which can access the regular bank account. Why they had to hold those transactions till they could use up my available cash, I don't know.

So now I still have $100-some in my regular account, since those transactions didn't go through. But I still haven't received my new regular ATM card in the mail. Still screwed. Dunno why.


Monday, November 17, 2008

The Book

Was just looking at my Podcast page. At the top, there was a Google AdSense link (yes, that's my fault, too) pointing to a place where I can get a Guide to getting a book published, sent to me by mail. You remember mail, it involved paper and stamps and whatnot.

And I'm thinkin, I've basically been producing a book for a few years now, published it myself to the whole damn world (HINT: You're looking at the current last page) and nobody had to send me a package in the mail to explain how to do it, or an envelope within which to enclose the check. I just started typing, and here I am still typing. And everybody in the world who knows how can come find it.

Then there's the mult-volume, unabridged, audio book I've produced since February of last year, some of it explaining my life, some of it just rambling on incoherently and playing other people's music. You might have heard of it. (See Other Webpage, hint, hint.)

Then there's the three books written by two other people that I've produced in audio form -- and rather well, in my own humble opinion.

So, if I click on the link and get the package in the mail about "How to Get a Book Published," what do I get? Anything new, or just another way to send other folks money?

Stay tuned for another Thrilling Adventure.

A Network Update

Had a brief problem with the Feeds address. Went out to GoDaddy and fiddled around with the domain settings, helped a little.

Finally changed the domain servers my computer was using from Qwest's local DNS to OpenDNS. Problem went away, apparently. Go figure.

Anyway, at the moment, http://feeds.nanapoopoo.com works just fine, and the current three subscribers (!) will get the show just fine.

Gotta love technology.

Oh, and I've had yet another podcaster inquire about joining the network. Which is cool; two proactive requests to join from non-NaPodPoMo podcasts. I did add the various NaPodPoMo special feeds on my own hook, just to stress-test the Pipe. Got a few nifty features in there now. And a couple that are installed but "unplugged;" I wanted to stick with the plain-vanilla network till I'm sure there's interest in pursuing the project. Most of the feed-aggregating work will be done by Yahoo! Pipes, but managing the list will be all on me for the moment.

I hope those that -are- trying out the network are as intrigued by the possibilities as I am. After all, it's supposed to be fun, isn't it?

Thanks for your interest!

Griz



I gotta work to keep track of who's actually joined the network.

Griz

Friday, November 14, 2008

The NaNaPooPoo Network

I've posted elsewhere about the NaNaPooPoo Network, my current baby. I think, I hope, it's a clever idea, and I think it can work. I think my reasoning on why it ought to work is sound. There may be some aspect I'm missing.

Just had another podcast join the fun. Since it's all still bleeding-edge beta -- just no way to do a podcast network in alpha -- I'm pretty much taking all comers. Down the road, there'll have to be some standards as to what belongs in the Net. Right now, the standard is More is Better.

I just might have started something with legs. We'll see. I'm proud of having thought of it. But I worry.

Griz

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month


At the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month, the War to End All Wars, ended.

Wasn't till the following June, I think, that they signed the Treaty of Versailles and officially ended the war. But at that Eleventh Hour, everyone agreed they'd fought enough, and they stopped.

Didn't work out to End All Wars -- we've had some doozies since then -- but at that moment, at least, they managed to stop that war. Till next time. In the UK and the former British Empire they take a moment at that Eleventh Hour, stop, stand, and stay silent for a minute. Remembrance Day. Armistice Day. Veterans Day. Because it needs to be remembered.

I'm a veteran myself -- a Service veteran, not a combat veteran. Seems while I was in they managed to not have any significant wars. Which strikes me as a good thing. And "I did not stand up," at 11:00 am at work here in the US. But all over the world, folks did stand up, and remember.

I recommend for your consideration the Oroboros podcast from the NaPodPoMo feed for today. He did a really beautiful job with this one. Wish I'd have thought of it.

I hope you all did a better job of Remembering than I did.

Griz

Monday, November 10, 2008

Going Non-commercial

I have nine segments done for the next book in my "Stories from the Hiber-Nation" podcast series. The new book doesn't start until 11/16, as I recall. I'd have to look.

I do have the audio from a PSA for the Environmental Defense Fund, related to global warming, which I could tack on the end of each episode for that book, at least. It seems appropriate to that book, mostly. But it's a little jarring, given the quiet tone of the way I recorded it. So, I haven't made up my mind.

I don't want it to be tacky. But I do like the idea of the PSA. Maybe I'll just put it in "Grizzly's Growls," sometime.

According to Alexa, by the way, "Grizzlysgrowls.com has a traffic rank of: 24,348,318..." with a bullet! Some day soon I hope to make it to 24,340,000.

Friday, November 7, 2008

And now, the bad news

What's one of the biggest real problems we face now? The National Debt. We actually are required to stop increasing the National Debt -- They don't make numbers that big.

And you know what really sucks?

What is the only practical way to eliminate a legitimate debt? By paying it.

What's the only practical way for a Government to pay a debt? By collecting the taxes necessary to pay it. And you know what that means.

That has always been the way. The Republicans come in with a whole slew of Grand Plans, Big Expensive Programs, sweeping new overarching Departments, and new Cabinet-level offices to be in charge of them (what they call Smaller Government), spend vast amounts of money, and fund everything by borrowing. Then for the next several decades, the Democrats have to find ways to pay back all that debt.

And when the Democrats have finally paid the debts, and put the economy back on a solid base so that the Government has a surplus and the Stock Market is singing Happy Days are Here Again...

The Republicans get voted back into office. On the basis that Republicans are Good for the Economy.

(Sigh.)


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes, we did.

Well, we managed somehow to elect the right man as President. I was worried about that. In fact, I had to stop watching last night, because I just didn't want to know if it was all for naught.

So far, so good. Barack Obama is President-Elect. I don't know if he can do everything he promised. But I believe he'll do his best. And he will do what he can. And he will act for the right reasons.

As is usual with new Presidents, I suspect the Market will rebound for a while at least. In fact, the most a President can do is change other people's attitudes and plans. Where people see him as a force for change, and change is needed, that will do a lot to ease some of the pain.

I wonder if and when folks will start calling his Presidency "the New Camelot." Oh, wait, I just did. You're welcome to quote me -- I was a child during the old Camelot, and this one certainly has potential.

Congratulations, folks. I think we did this one right.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Got my Vote On!

Managed to get to the polls and vote today. Then I walked three blocks away, noticed I'd forgotten my cane, walked three blocks back, got my cane, walked another three blocks, and caught a too-full bus downtown.

I'll be late for work again. For this, it's worth it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

"Bang! Bang!" And another Podcast bites the dust.

Just finished posting Episode 73 of Grizzly's Growls, entitled "Not for Broadcast." Maybe I shouldn't have called it that.

I mean, hey, you wanna pass the show along to your friends, that's "broadcast," and that'd be a real nice thing to do. Or point 'em to the website, even better. If they don't get the whole downloading MP3's thing, they can still click the "Listen" button, and listen to the shows without having to fiddle too much. And I'd get more folks listening, and I'd be one step closer to being a dot-com billionaire. Or something.

As for NaPodPoMo, after filling in the first one-day gap with this show, I'm good until 11/10, when I'm supposed to do another Grizzly's Growls. I really like doing so many shows; podcasting involves all kinda stuff I'd be doing for fun without the incentive of the big challenge.

Except now I have to wait for next week, cause I'm kinda booked up till then.

So far, so good. I hope I can manage the second 15 days.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The End of an Earful


Well, it finally happened.

Tonight and this morning, I finished recording the last of the "Stories of the Hiber-Nation" episodes of "A Handy Guide for Beggars" by Vachel Lindsay.

And I'm really very sad right now. Partly it's the expected letdown after a long project. And partly it's due to this being a really beautiful story, with a kind of teary-eyed and whistful ending.

I think it went beautifully, if I do say so myself. I think I'm happiest when I get to read aloud. Damn shame I can't read for a living. But I'll probably stay stuck as a telemarketer.

Now, of course, I have to figure out what to read next. I'm tempted to go back and read another Seton book, since "Biography of a Grizzly" turned out rather well, and was quite popular. Seton has something of a fan club, and I'm sure many of the listeners to that were already fans of his work when they came across mine. And I liked the book, too. I think I'd enjoy reading another like it, assuming his other books are like that one.


But as I said, I'm quite sad. And quite tired, given it's now past 4:00 am. Can't go forever without sleep.

Oh, and I've now done shows for 13 of the 30 days of NaPodPoMo. If I can sustain the pace, this really should be doable.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

No Time Like the Present

Had the strangest dream last night.

I was driving around, for some reason, in this large, armored vehicle, saving the world and being a hero & such. Near the end of the dream, I was standing quite a ways from the vehicle, with a bunch of other folks I apparently knew from somewhere. We looked up, and there was this rather cartoonish-looking aircraft with an obvious, large bomb stuck on it's belly.

Someone joked, "Boy, good thing he's going to drop that bomb on the truck. Imagine what it'd be like to have that dropped on us!"

Someone else countered, "Think that's bad, if that was a nuke, we'd still be screwed." They all laughed.

Picture the usual movie slow motion. Now cut that speed in half. I could see the bomb cut loose from the aircraft. I remember standing down around the DECC in Duluth, looking up to the hill, say around Enger Tower or so. I could see the bomb dropping. It was about halfway to the ground when we realized it actually -was- a nuclear bomb. The folks around me were still trying to come up with something funny to say about that, when it hit the ground.

Even the actinic flash was slow motion. I was able to see it start, and turn around before it reached me.

Now picture that rolling shockwave effect from "Independence Day," but moving maybe half that fast. I could see it coming, I could consider running, I could consider hiding behind, on top of, or under something.

When you're absolutely doomed and there's nothing you can do, having plenty of time to come to that conclusion is no great comfort.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Vote for Foolishness!

Got this message from DonorsChoose.org, that I wanted to share with you.


Vote for Foolishness!

Posted: 31 Oct 2008 09:25 AM CDT


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Motley Fool

Then click on DonorsChoose.org and hit vote. You may be asked to enter your email, but that's it!

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