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Mixing it up and using the creation option

18 Aug

I tend to get single minded about things sometimes.  While that can be a good thing, there is also a tendency to go overboard, perhaps.  The truth of the matter is, too much of anything is not a good thing.  So, focusing on variety being the spice of life, I have mixed up things a bit more around more.  I do at least two things every day, and which two things can vary.  I write, almost every day, in one form or another.  Other days, it might a whole list of options that are considered.  One that has been at the forefront has been the act of creation.

Something about creating something, whether it is written text or an object  of some kind, seems to give me joy.  It’s even better when it’s something that gives other people pleasure.  This act of creation is a fantastic outlet for me.

So I have been busy with that creation stuff.  Like I made a trio of simple skirts for my niece’s oldest, along with matching hair barrettes.  I altered the pattern to be more creative and use that creation option too.  Several skirts for my granddaughter have come out from under the needle of my machine.  I tried my hand at a bit more fussy sewing with a set of mother-daughter aprons (shhhh!  She hasn’t gotten them yet, it’s her birthday gift, and I’ll deliver them tomorrow!) and a lined messenger bag with specially sized pockets, also for my daughter’s birthday.  The messenger bag was an act of determination, multiplied by dynamic creation, and infused with love too.

I don’t know if I’ll ever sew another apron requiring miles of bias tape.  I also don’t know if I will EVER make another lined bag.

Now I know from years of sewing that free patterns, whether from magazines (in the old days) or online (the modern day), does not mean quality patterns.  Anybody can post a pattern, and that does not mean it’s a good one.

This wasn’t a particularly good one.  The directions gave me headaches, and the finished example used to illustrate the article looked somewhat…sad.  I should have known better, right?

Yeah, well maybe I missed the brain train.  Lord knows the pain train pulls into my station regularly, I may have been confused that day…

I’ve also had serious computer issues.  I use a laptop (long story) and my “new” one took a dump and quit on me about 6 months ago.  Without being able to afford a repairman (it’s not a simple issue, it won’t power up at all) it has sat, waiting, after Greg removed the harddrive and cloned it onto another one, which ultimately went into my old laptop, which he had repaired from it’s near-fatal blow from some kind of malware attack I had received via a chat client I used to use.  (I don’t anymore, btw.)  So, I was happily working away, although regretting the loss of the faster computer with more RAM and thus better able to cope with my continual multi-tasking, and just dealing with the occasional freezing that such a tendency induces in older and underpowered computers.

On Saturday morning, I had a notice on the laptop that it had received a Microsoft update and had restarted.  Okay, no big deal, right?

It told me it was personalizing my desktop, and stayed that way.  Nothing we did resurrected it—it would not boot up.  I was on the verge of a melt down and we’ve not managed to drink our first cup of coffee yet.

Greg’s pretty patient, except when I’m melting down on him, then he’s not a very happy camper either.  He managed to pack me off to the office with my sewing machine, and he proceeded to try and solve the issue.  I took a nap.

A really long nap.

I guess melt downs wear me out?  It also gave him the peace he needed to work on solving the problem.  According to the flashing light on the cap lock, it was telling him that the CPU had crashed and burned.  That’s not a quick fix either, especially since it’s a laptop, which is really hard to work on.  We have no parts, nor do we have diagnostic tools to work on a laptop.  With Greg though, there is no such thing as defeat.  He also says there is no living with me without a functional computer AND my files, so he had a plan b to work on while I was snoring away.

He dug out his old laptop, which he had finally managed to repair.  (It was also damaged, but much more severely, by malware via the same chat client.)  It was the same brand as my old one—a Compaq.  He popped the harddrive from the laptop I had been using into the new one, added some RAM, and booted it up.  There were a few things to tweak, but soon, I was awake and had a computer I could use again.

But it had a really odd looking screen, and that was a clue as to what was coming next.  The video card driver on the harddrive was not compatible with the actual video card in the new old machine.  Should be an easy fix, right?

Nope

HP’s repair gizmo won’t install. Drivers for the video card don’t seem to exist.  Okay, I can live with an oddball looking screen, distorted pictures and all.  But that wasn’t the end of the video card driver problems.

The blue screen of death.

Yeah, we’ve all seen it.  The trouble was, I was seeing it often, and then the new old computer wouldn’t boot up either.  I was starting to feel like some kind of computerized jinx.

I’m testy, and I’m sent back to the office to talk to my sewing machine and play with my Kindle.  I start dreaming of embroidery machines and new laptops, but Greg manages to save the day despite my frazzled nerves.  He also attaches an external harddrive so I can back up the critical files: documents & pictures.  We even worked out a way to get it done easily without me freaking out and getting frustrated over complicated procedures.

Like the Cloud.

He couldn’t understand my objection to using the Cloud for backing up files, but Comcast, in their usual manner, managed to illustrate it in living color.

Our intermittent outage issues had been plaguing us all day on Sunday.  Sunday night, however, it’s a total no-internet-at-all situation resulting in a call to Comcast, where he started off the experience with a 30 minute wait to get to a human.

Keep in mind, we’re paying by the minute for this privilege, despite Comcast’s continual offers of telephone service (they can’t get the internet right, how would they get telephone right?) and then he gets “service is out in your area due to an accident.  It should be restored by 7 am on Monday morning.”

Now he knows why I do not like my files on the Cloud.  I cannot access them when the internet is down.  Just like I couldn’t access anything when I had no way to get to my harddrive and the data it contained, only with no cloud access, my computer is working just fine.  Sure, the cloud is fine for a general back up, but that’s not where I want my files kept.

He was thrilled.  Seriously thrilled.  But now, he understood what my objections were and why they were something that I was so adamant about.

But that sent my brain off onto another tangent too.

If a woman could sue McDonald’s for a cup of hot coffee scalding her, can I sue Comcast for frustrating Greg to the point of giving him another heart attack via their crappy customer service?

That’s the kind of thing I start to wonder in the wee hours, as I look at a screen that thinks it’s really a 16” CRT monitor but is really an LCD laptop screen…I think it’s a 17” one? (Heck I can tell you the model number, and have no idea what size the screen is.  Sad, huh?)  So, now I’m going to mix it up, wander off, and try to take a photo of the lovely messenger bag.

Or not.

I might wait and do it tomorrow, along with the aprons, when I have a model.  Actually 2 models.  Beautiful Daughter & her Mini Me, the spitting image of her mother, only with better hair.

See that’s another side of me too.  I am an official grandmother and I’m every bit as gaga as any grandma could be.  Plus, she’s my one and only, so I am seriously gaga about that little girl.  I have to keep a firm hand on myself to prevent me spoiling her excessively.

Yep, there is an “excessive” point when you are grandma too.

But she is a darling, most of the time.  When I see that less-than-endearing version, I am so disappointed too.  After all, as MY granddaughter, she is supposed to be perfect, right?

And since I do have to get up early to go see my darling, I’m going to leave it at that.

So tune in again tomorrow…or listen to me on the radio from 8-10 pm Central at bit.ly/uprn365  Oh, and go buy a book or two at bit.ly/giabooks  I’m trying to fund my project development for the next book, and could use some extra sales.

Just don’t forget–I really appreciate everyone who reads my blog posts, and for that, you deserve an atta-boy and a creation bonus point.  Create something, even if its something small.  It can be food or art or crafts or a really great poem or the best lawn mowing job that has ever hit your neighborhood.

Creation can be many things.

Here’s a cover of one of my books–my daughter and granddaughter were on the cover.

Kindle Parent handbook cover

You can find it right here.

Don’t forget–I’m moving my blog to www.exogenynetwork.com at the end of the month!

 

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Solution is advertising!

23 Aug

I’ve made some posts lately about the struggles of keeping an internet radio program up and running, as well as free for listeners by pleading for donations.  I really hate doing that, and while I greatly appreciate the handful of people that have responded, we felt we needed a better solution, especially since we’ve had some equipment failures lately too.

So what did we come up with?

Advertising.  But, it’s still advertising with a difference, as well as with a look back to old time (pre-television) radio programs.  Remember how the old time hosts would say something about their sponsor’s products during the program?  It’s the same concept.

We’ve just modernized it.  It’s low cost, we’re debuting the concept at just $20 per “mention”, making it affordable for everyone from new independent authors that want to get the word out about a book launch to someone sponsoring a program segment in lieu of a traditional (and somewhat mundane) birthday card.  It’s also a bargain, considering that the Dawn of Shades has over 250,000 logged in listeners each week, with the numbers steadily increasing.

This way, instead of just getting a thank  you for donating, it becomes a totally different beast as an actual purchase of advertising.  For businesses, it then becomes an actual business expense too.

It’s just a short piece that will be read by the host (almost always me!) on the air, and there are only four slots per program available, so once they are gone…they are gone.  There is also only one discount available, and to receive that, you would have to be a member of the group on Facebook.  (It’s a closed group, but all legitimate appearing accounts are granted membership.)  The group is found here, if you are interested.

The same program is available for Greg’s show, the Voice of the People, on Saturdays too.

There are a few rules.  We won’t lie and say we use/endorse something if we really don’t have a clue.  We can’t advertise illegal items. We also cannot advertise porn websites or shady commercial ventures with offshore businesses.  You can only advertise a website if you own the domain too, except for a few exceptions such as Amazon & other familiar retailers selling books, audio recordings, videos, etc.  (Indie authors & artists, as well as more traditional writers/musicians, all use these sellers.)  You can promote a cause, but we also will not accept one that advocates illegal actions, such as overthrow of the government, etc.

We will only accept payment via PayPal.  It’s easy and secure for both parties, as well as a minimally difficult process for everyone.  There are deadlines too–we can’t arrange for an ad during the last hour before we go on the air!  We have to agree on the message, vet the website, etc. before the advertisement is accepted.  A particular slot is never guaranteed before payment is received either.

Want more information or to buy a slot for yourself?  It’s easy–just email me at giascott at exogenynetwork.com!

Spittin’ in the wind

12 Aug

Well, the cable company was even less patient than I’d hoped.  They hit us this morning with a cut off.

Thankfully, courtesy of the donations we’d received, we were able to pay the minimum payment to keep it on for now.  So…even though we were $75 short of paying the whole bill, we have internet for a while longer.

We didn’t get much response, compared to the number of listeners we have.  I guess I would have been inspired by more response, even if the response came without a donation, but…that’s the way it is.  We haven’t even gotten any response on the poll we posted on a previous post on this blog.

I really need a bit of encouragement.  So does Greg.  

In the middle of all of this, our little feist was failing fast after another stroke, and she passed away early Saturday morning.  Granted, she was very good at annoying people, and not very nice to most of them, but we loved the little dog anyhow.  The show Saturday evening was tough for Greg on the heels of digging his little buddy’s grave.  She was a “daddy’s girl” dog, and they were especially close.  Despite having other dogs, we are still depressed over losing her.  Our dogs are like our four legged children, I guess.

But…with all of that aside, I’m done begging for donations.  It was a very difficult thing for me to do anyhow, and I didn’t like it.  Beggars also have a tendency to suddenly become invisible, and that’s the last thing I wanted.  We’re going to have to consider alternatives to the donation method of funding, that’s obvious.  We’re exploring those avenues now, and it will likely result in advertising, sponsors or pay-per-listen for the podcasts.   Maybe something will come up, but I’m leaving that to the Universe.  If we’re meant to stay on the air, we’ll find funding somewhere.  If not, well…we won’t be.

It’s kind of like spitting into the wind, you never know what will happen for sure.  You might get a face full, and then again…maybe you won’t.

In the meantime, the next month’s worth of shows are coming to you courtesy of Steven and Elaine, our benefactors.  I’m very grateful that they donated.

Does anyone hear?

8 Aug

Yesterday, I swallowed my pride and admitted we are at the end of the rope.  We have a short time to figure out how to pay the internet connection bill before it is cut off.

I haven’t heard from anyone indicating that they even care that the shows are looking at possibly coming to an end.

Out of over half a million listeners, surely someone cares whether or not we continue doing the programs?

I had scheduled a series featuring Native American writers and I am genuinely excited about the series, but I’m also genuinely afraid we won’t get to do all 9 programs we had planned.

We still need a miracle, but it isn’t a huge miracle.  It shouldn’t be impossible to have it happen either.

All we need is a very small number of fans who care enough to contribute about what it costs to go buy one fast food meal to make an equivalent donation via Paypal.

That means if just a dozen people, less than is usually standing in line at lunch time to buy that burger and fries, to donate $10 each…and we’ve bought more time to stay on the air.

Just twelve.

Twelve seems like an awful lot right now, with the deadline breathing down my neck.  Twelve seems impossible when you don’t even have a single donation yet.  Twelve seems like a vast number when it seems as though no one seems to really care whether we’re on by the end of the month or not.

Do you honestly enjoy independent talk shows like we do?  Do you look forward to the programs?  Do you ever download one to listen on your mp3 player while you are doing something else?  How many hours of entertainment have the programs given you?  Has it broadened your horizons?  Introduced new & interesting ideas?  Made you laugh?

Isn’t that worth something?

At this point, even a comment or email indicating you appreciate what we do is better than nothing.  At least we’d know we’d not wasted our time entirely.  Instead, so far we have had nothing more than stony silence.

Help make a difference.  Be the first to donate.  You don’t have to drop us an email, we’ll appreciate you anyhow.

If you want to be that first donor, use Paypal and just send it to giascott (at) exogenynetwork.com

I’ll even thank you on the air (unless  you prefer to remain anonymous).

A cry for help

7 Aug

Sad stories are a dime a dozen these days.  It seems that everyone is telling one.  That’s part of why I hate to start on ours.

But, it is necessary, there is a lot at stake.

For years, Greg & I have paid for the expenses of the radio programs we host.  We have had some very much appreciated donations along the way, but the truth is…they are few and far between.  Years of donations, if lumped together, would cover a single month of expenses.  We don’t spend a lot of time soliciting donations though, and we certainly don’t hire someone to do it for us, unlike major charities.

The truth of the matter is, despite having a new series of shows featuring Native American writers scheduled to start on August 13th, we’re looking at it all coming to an end in less than two weeks.

We are looking at a shut off notice for non-payment for internet access if we don’t come up with $120 by then.  We couldn’t pay the bill last month.

To us, it looks like a vast number.  We’ve had our fair share of “bad luck” lately.  Greg had a major heart attack in the spring, resulting in a long hospital stay, as well as expensive medication, weekly blood tests, and regular doctor visits—all of which are financially challenging.  We couldn’t afford his medicine last month.  We couldn’t afford mine either, but I did have a month’s worth of one medication on hand.

We’ve also had mechanical break downs.  Our primary vehicle is broke down and its tags are now expired, rendering it undrivable on two fronts.  Our lawn mower sputtered out.  We’re having electrical problems with the house.  The mini-van we’re driving is worn out, the a/c doesn’t work, and the suspension system soon has me in agony.  Our badly needed all-in-one scanner/printer/fax machine died this week.

Everything has drained our resources.  There is no light at the end of the tunnel, and we’re treading water as fast as we can.  But there is no choice, we have to have donations or we’re facing going off the air.  We just can’t cover this bill.

Here are some numbers, just to show how many people do listen.

Last week, on the Dawn of Shades, we had over 260,000 listeners log in to listen to the program.  It was another record setting audience, but that’s just about every week.  We seem to have more and more listeners each week, and that tells me that I must be doing something right.

Greg has about 400,000 listeners log in each Saturday to listen to the Voice of the People.  He must be doing something right too.

That means that roughly 660,000 people are listening to us each week.  Free.  More people listen by downloading or streaming the archived show, and others listen when the shows are re-run on the network.  It’s all free, too.

We have no sponsors, no advertising revenue, and we’re not paid by the station either.  We not only don’t make a living doing it, we don’t even make a starving doing it—we receive no funding from anyone to support what we do.  Because of the station’s rules, we are not even able to ask for donations on the air.  We can only do so through our blogs and websites.

We pay for the radio programs.  We do occasionally ask for donations, but we have never counted on them before.  Right now, it’s critical that we get those necessary donations though.  Even though we’re crippled by being restricted from asking on the air, we are asking all of our most loyal listeners to “show us some love” by helping us stay on the air.

We aren’t asking for a lot.  We know that a lot of our listeners can’t afford to donate and are struggling to just stay afloat too.  All we’re asking is for you to give up the equivalent of ONE fast food meal, just $5 or $10, and show us some support for what we do as an independent media outlet.  If you can afford it, donate more to make up for all of those listeners who are living on fixed incomes or can’t afford even a trip to a fast food joint.  Even a movie usually costs more.  Besides, your waist will not mind exchanging that cheap burger for a couple of hours of fun, interesting, and upbeat programming each week.

It’s easy to make a donation through Paypal.  Just go to www.Paypal.com and click on “send money.”  Then put in the amount, and my email address, giascott at exogenynetwork.com (just replace the at with an @ and eliminate the spaces—spammers are everywhere!  Please don’t wait until the last minute—it takes about a week to move the money through Paypal and then into the bank to pay the bill.

Independent media outlets are important.  Programs you like and enjoy are also important.  Please support Exogeny Network’s programs today.

The Facebook Bubble

18 Apr

There are rumors flying that the Facebook bubble is about to burst, that it has exceeded its own growth potential, resulting in a speedy demise.

Maybe it has, and maybe it hasn’t.  I’m not an expert, but…I am smart enough to learn from the past.  That’s what history is for, isn’t it?

We have had a lot of bubbles related to the internet.  The dot com bubble burst some time ago.  MySpace, once the king of social networking, is pretty much history.  I have an account, but I have logged into it about twice in the last three years.  Even then, it was just to connect with someone who hadn’t moved on to Facebook, not because I cared about my own account.  I didn’t like it much, and I found it awkward and with an excessively youthful nature.  Facebook suited me better, with a more run of the mill air about it as Every Man and Every Woman took to it like ducks to water.  Now, I actually know some people who think the internet IS Facebook, never leaving its comforting pages to wander unfettered through the digital universe we have collectively created.

At the same time, people aren’t going to magically abandon Facebook unless something better comes along.  Google presented us with Google Plus, then disappointed many users as it adopted more and more features that resembled those of Facebook.  We hadn’t flocked to it for a Facebook replacement, we had flocked there to find something DIFFERENT.  Somehow, I think it may have failed to deliver what we were craving, although it does have some of the features people seek.

So what do people want?

That is the million dollar question really.  In general, among the people I have approached , they want some specific things:

Ability to connect with others with similar ideas/interests.

Ability to control how much information is made public.

Ability to integrate and yet separate their private and public personas.  (Yes, they are different!  We all have our pro side, and then we have the side who gets depressed, eats a quart of ice cream, a whole bag of chips, and vegs on the sofa for an entire weekend in their pajamas…featuring My Little Pony on the bodice.  Do we really want our co-worker and clients s to see our angst?)

The ability to share things, especially cute kittens and political  memes.  Oh, and their opinions, of course.  Often.  Without.  Thinking.

The real kicker is that it is hard to keep public and private separate, and yet it is very important.  More and more companies want to take a look at who you are on Facebook before..and after….hiring you.  There have been cases where they wanted the passwords as well, even before hiring you.  (Not sure how legal that really is, and I would object strongly, but desperation in this job market probably inspired many applicants to just give in.)  Law enforcement is looking harder at this information as well, and many people suspect that the government spies on us all continually through social media.  If so, I hope they enjoy the recipes and cute animal pictures  that litter my posts.  Oh, and MouseHunt, the one game that I keep on playing.

So, that big mysterious agency, which is called Big Undercover Liberty Limiting Special Host of Investigating Technicians (BULLSHIT for short) is watching our every tweet and post, whether its on Google Plus, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or Secret Text Updating Data Inside Technology (aka STUPID) status update in search of covert, illegal, or terrorist activities.  That’s a big job, and it’s an important one.  After all, not even the super snooping capabilities of the latest CARNIVORE government spyware program can detect and analyze the language used inside of a cute kitten meme.  They have even found it necessary to put undercover agents into the dating sites in search of terrorists and anarchists who are using these sites to find women to marry and then obtain legal status to continue their illegal activities in the United States.

Sure they are.

The US is notorious, world wide, for their strong stance against illegal entry compared to other countries.

And I have a couple of bridges for sale, one on each coast of the USA, been in the family for a long time…

Go try sneaking into Mexico, China, North Korea, or heck, even sneak into Iraq while  you are at it.  After you have your “vacation” they’ll send you home, free of charge, right?

Wrong.

But that’s okay, we’re okay with that.  Just like we’re okay with the way Facebook is going.  Never mind that we’re already suspicious of their marketing techniques and desires to use our names and images to promote other goods and services.  We’ll happily go along with it, until the rats all find another ship to jump to.  All we have to do is figure out which ship will be the one they choose, so we’re riding along with our own cheese store, right?

At least  we know what it won’t be.  It won’t be Yahoo, MSN, AOL, MySpace, or G+.  Will it simply fracture apart, as people opt to leave the ultra populated space for smaller, more intimate and more user-responsive versions of social media?

Actually, I think that’s what I would place my bet on.  As shifts occur in how we interact, obtain our information and entertainment, how we shop, and where we work, we’re going to see that continual evolution.  Chat programs, while now usually subscription based, are becoming increasingly popular, and often oriented to topic or demographic data oriented.  We want our information and written entertainment also delivered digitally, and that creates another mode of connection.

That makes me wonder.  What if Amazon introduced a social media program, one that allowed people to discuss types of products, literary works by genre, etc.?  Would we see the rise of that type of social media connection, one provided by the seller of goods as a way to encourage people to continue shopping via their website rather than to venture into the “real world” with all of its inconveniences, expenses and dangers?

Or maybe we’ll see the right wing control factor coming into play, and instead of corporations operating the social media, it will become a government sponsored, controlled, and monitored environment.  We’ll all be tagged with our personal data, preventing any more mysterious encounters, as well as encounters of the really dangerous sort that we’ve all heard about.

The ancient Chinese may have regarded “May you live in interesting times” as a curse, but it’s our mantra.  We do live in interesting times, and who knows how they’ll be regarded in the future.  Are we going to be immortalized in unrealistic works of fiction that equate this era to the Wild Wild West that really never was what the movies portray it as?

That could be too.  All I know is that we’re going to see changes, some from evolution, others from reactionary governments.  We’ll see how our data is delivered and censored change, as well as who delivers what will change.  The wild and utterly independent voices of today’s internet radio may be silenced in the coming years, as expenses continue to rise as economies continue to struggle.  We don’t know.

But, it will definitely be interesting to watch and find out, won’t it?

 

Black metal music, Brett Wehmeyer, and the Dawn of Shades

24 Nov

Last night, I was fortunate enough to host the second program in the series, Music in America on Gia Scott’s Dawn of Shades.  My guest was Brett Wehmeyer, and his roots were in Black Metal music. I’ll admit it, I’ve never been a fan of black metal music, but the series wasn’t really about the music I liked, but as a representation of the various genres of the music of America.  With only eight programs, obviously not all of the potential genres could be represented. For the first time, I could find out what the whole point of Black Metal music was though.  To me, it always sounded as though nobody in the band was on speaking terms with each other, and everyone was doing their own thing.  It turns out…I wasn’t all that wrong, because it is a type of music born out of hatred and theoretically is the sounds of hell. At least that explains the altering between a growling and a shrieking voice for the lyrics too. However, it also doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly a huge fan of Black Metal music either.  I’m a bit past the point of all that anger, violence, and hatred.  I’m a bit leery of music that glorifies it too.  I certainly don’t feel a need to revisit that type of negative energy and emotion at this point in my life. It sounded like he thought he was past that point too, and ready to move on to other things as well. All in all, it was a very interesting interview, with a lot of insight into the business of music as well. You can find the interview here.   0