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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.