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"I don't see how anyone would want to read it all for fun." —Robert Fripp

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Allow me to function as a beggar for a moment.

I don't sell anything at this site. I mostly tell a long story that probably interests no one but me and a few friends.

But for a couple years now I've been motivated primarily to do extensive volunteer work to do some web projects that I believe in. If you've been a reader at Jubilee Economics or a listener at The Common Good Podcast, or if you've been supporting the professional clergy women of Women Who Speak In Church, then you've had a chance to see the main body of web work I've done to help people around me. Much of it has been of my own initiative to see these causes get a higher profile, and to build community farther and wider than their local networks could facilitate. Collectively, most weeks while unemployed for a year and a half now, I've spent at least full time on one or all of these plus setup and a considerable amount of the social media and digital administrative work that surrounds the main sites, not to mention occasional bits of support for other tangential projects. It fills my time with more meaningful activity than just watching TV (which I've boycotted since 1997).

It takes a lot of time to explore and learn the ins and outs of software, evolving technologies, and to train people back at the orgs to use things. It's a full time job, and one that often spans nearly around the clock. Almost all of it is unpaid except in some cases when some software is purchased for me to use for the cause or offshoot efforts perhaps bring a bit of cash. But make no mistake; it's not an income to pay the bills. It keeps me from driving trucks or doing stage work, which I would gladly consider part of a past life. But I need to be empowered to move with what my gut tells me to do. Any support that helps me to be of service to orgs that really don't have a budget but do have a world-changing message is worthy of support. Maybe it takes crowdfunding to help float by.

All this is work I feel compelled to deliver on before I set about doing things that are my own work. Doing all this volunteer stuff not particularly time spent on this site, which is a pretty transparent document spanning a decade now, and one that says who I am and what I am about and how I've struggled with meaning in life. (By the way, this site costs $192/year in hosting and I have to pay it up in a week.) It's not time spent trying to reconnect with a nearly lost love, music. It's not time in my church community. It's not time seeing family. (You know from reading this site that with my family situation, that doesn't take too much time.)

I recently had to make the sad decision to tell Jubilee Economics that I'd have to back out of most of the work I've done so I could focus on the job search. I'd take that back if there was a way to sustain myself in a way that didn't so sharply demarcate the line between "work I feel compelled to do" and "work that pays a wage."

So I invite you to make a freewill donation of any amount with PayPal. Do it because you know what TAPKAE.com means as a record of trying to live an undivided life of some integrity, or because you know that the job market sucks. Or because you like what you've learned from one of the sites I've built and shepherded, or because you're just a cool person. Any of the above? All of the above?

Thank you.


The +20 Blues

All you loyal readers out there have seen the +20 posts around here that take a stroll down memory lane and look at my coming of age. I've felt that 1989 was when things started to matter in a way worth taking note of, so I have been doing a couple years of this now. But of course, we are at the 20th anniversary of graduating from high school, so that kind of makes 2011 notable.

In a few hours I plan to send off a check to the organizer of the reunion event. It is not an expensive affair. It's just being held at a sports bar (um, maybe I should stay home?) but all told, it's $50 for Kelli and me and that is pretty cheap kicks. I hear tell of a picnic on the following day.

One thing that I think people always ask themselves is if this reunion routine is worth anything. I went to my ten year, never expecting much, and not getting much in return. Some people hated high school. I got along better as it went grade to grade. I ended feeling quite okay about it. So I had few qualms about going to the reunion in 2001. I actually had a few nice things to say to some people who did encourage me to play music, even if it was typically yearbook fodder. I was uncynically willing to take that encouragement at face value.

Again, I have had scarcely any contact with anyone in the intervening ten years. Just a periodic chat relationship with the organizer, who was someone I ran into at Costco about a year before the last reunion. Aside from that, no sustained relationships except with Steve Rau, my German friend, and even he and I go long periods between calls. This time around though, there is Facebook and Skype and all that. I just spent nearly four hours on Skype a week ago, talking to the organizer, Candie, and Bryan, a fellow I had some friendly ties with back then. That was a whole new kind of time, talking to them! Shi-yat... when we were in school together, I recall my first encounter with a "chat room" in the library. One person at one computer could talk to another person at the neighboring computer by sending messages back and forth! I had little use for it then. I hated computers.

So how to make sense of it all? Talking by Skype to people I barely know, but having this uncanny ability to draw from some of the same experiences? A couple of us scanning our yearbooks, holding them up to the camera, and cutting up like old pals. So odd. Got some new Facebook friends too. (Also interesting is that by total surprise, I found a first grade picture of Shelby Duncan. It was something I had seen but not in ages, and I can't recall if it was through someone at Madison or from Shelby herself. Was an odd mixing of types.)

Now that I have done extensive work bringing my monster-journal Life At The Top into the digital realm, I recall that all the stories of any real substance and transformation pretty much have little to do with my fellow Warhawks (I called the mascot "Warthogs" then). Stories about church, wanting to be a teacher, Shelby, the most important parts of befriending Steve, and a few others are largely talking about stuff that happened outside the schoolyard walls. Some things are retold in LAAT that are school-related, but they tend to be less important in a larger sense. I noticed there was a lot of talk about when I felt recognized or when I somehow had my ego stroked. It is a fair thing to have one's ego develop as a young person, so I suppose that was what it was. I'd like if it didn't sound so self serving. Such was my aptitude for writing and reflecting. It was a personal journal, after all.

We'll see if things like the social media and Skype do anything to sustain things. Already, after a giddy day of being plunged into that stuff and looking sites over, I am of mixed mind about this. No doubt everyone has had their rocky 20 years, like me. What I do wonder is if, with all the distractions of life today, can people work their way backwards and slow down a bit to connect beyond the superficial stuff? Reading my LATT journal indicates that I was not into superficial relationships then. And I tended to think of a lot of school relationships as wanting for substance. I didn't feel too connected to people then. That is why Steve and Shelby were so huge then, and why I spilled so much ink to talk about it. I'd like to connect to people more now, especially after life kinds of dulls the edges between people, and eventually it would be nice to see more commonality than difference. No doubt the popular kids have taken their lumps too, and maybe there is something to talk about that runs below the surface. Here's hoping.



(...With a tip of the hat to Michael K. who actually admitted to reading this journal.)

I don't really know what I am about to tell you, but the aforementioned MK (not Keneally) was just begging to have something new to read. Whatever. Some people! :^) So here I am. And there you are. Well, I assume you are. If not, who am I talking to? (Actually, WRITING to.) I am not really talking to any of you. But you get my drift. Actually I don't have a drift, and never had. But if I did, it would be teal and would operate on Mac OS 9 where I still operate. Actually, I am not licensed as a doctor, so I am therefore not allowed to operate. But I am aloud when I play drums. I play fairly loud. Some people wish that wasn't aloud, you know? You probably don't actually know, so you will have to take my word for it. But I hope you won't take it far. I need some of them. Without them, I would be speechless. Some people wish I was speechless. But I did well in speech class so they can shove it up their class. (I really did do exceedingly well in speech class last semester— #3 of 102 total students in my instructor's classes. Made me proud.)

Okay, so I'm stalling for time. I've been discovered. You want fries with that?

Well, among the couple of newsworthy things to take place since the last entry at the end of the year, I have to report that I have cracked the whip on myself (not literally, I don't play that rough) and made myself shut off the damned internet and stop screwing off at my computer needlessly like I did for the first two years I had it. Well, that has freed up a good deal of time to get back into the studio where I really belong. I can't believe how many hours I needlessly sacrificed to be on the net when I could have been recording or whatever. Well, I guess things happen for some reason. The net was a fascinating place for the time I was rabidly into it. But now I know what to expect in the certain corners of it that I frequent.

For one, repetition, repetition, repitition. In hanging out on a number of music and recording related boards and groups, certain topics are bandied about so freaking often its sick. I mean, how many times can people talk about preamps and compressors and the world's most underrated guitarists in one day? A month? A year? I don't really know. But finally I decided I'd been around that block too many times and had to get back to work, because my time has been more measured in the recent few months, and frankly, I worsened my depression by hanging out on the net as a substitute for other things. It surely cost me a lot of studio time, caused some relationship snags, and in some groups made me unpopular when I would sort of troll just to keep things interesting. The time on the net came at a turning point for me anyway, and I was really ready for something new, and well, I just got addicted. I mean, addicted. You know, like, it tells ME how life will be. You know how people smoke cigarettes when they wake up, then at meal times and after sex and all? I swear, that was me, but I was a net addict. In my most indulgent days, oh, maybe in early 2002, I was on the computer doing one thing or another for most of the 18 hours I was up. I suppose maybe it was 12 or more of those hours. I don't even know how, but I wasn't working and I sort of inched myself out of a social life. I also did my graphics related stuff (not even music then—I didn't have Pro Tools then, nor anything else). It was just prowling the same 5-10 groups over and over all day long. I later took to messaging with Doug in Texas, sometimes going at it for hours and hours. Doug is one of the few success stories I have to claim. Once we transcended the topics of preamps and what recorder sucks less or more, we got on with some good chat about a huge range of things.

There are people in some of those groups that write so many entries it is a wonder they have time to do anything else. I swear, I see some dudes on multiple groups, and it seems that nearly around the clock they have something to say on the same five topics, day in and day out. I can't for the life of me figure how in the world they have a chance to play or hold a day job. It baffles even me, who did clock some good time doing the same thing, often sans job or social life, or music. It just boggles my mind. When I got into the net, I was finishing my CD and was all excited about having the computer to do a little bit of everything—social life, art, some music (at least for listening), studying, promoting my CD, making web sites, etc. So I completely threw myself in head first. I would find any excuse to do something on the computer. The only thing I really didn't do was play games and buy porn (no, really!). Any excuse was good enough. It really was an addiction. If nothing else, it got me a little fatter and sedentary, and sort of kept me from having some other more varied and maybe even more real encounters with the world, even as it opened up a whole other world of its own. I would wake up and switch the computer on and spend an hour before work if I had any at all, and I would kiss it good night as late as I could, about 18 hours later. In between, I just couldn't peel myself away.

I guess there are worse things to be addicted to. Some can actually do real damage. But addiction is a pattern of behavior, and is basically the same rules apply to whatever the variable is. I guess I must have had some addiction before the computer, and it just transferred. I used to be addicted to cross referencing my life, and doing all sorts of introspective and sometimes destructive stuff by keeping myself acquainted with old events and experiences and people who maybe I should have let go of. Really, it tied up a lot of time. I didn't sit in one place, but it DID act in the same way as the computer later did. It consumed my energy and told ME how it was going to be. I think that the difference might be that some addictions only TAKE, and I do have to say that my time on the computer and the net is not all a waste. Certainly not. It did give, and it continues to give. But living out of balance certainly is a problem. I think moderation is called for. Just about anything is good in moderation. I guess I can aspire to that.

Oh yeah, I was going to talk about my studio time lately. I came up with a great hybrid system last week. Since all the gear is in the little room now, I feel a lot more like experimenting and at least getting ideas out and captured. But now I have made it so I can run Pro Tools from the little room while the full computer system is undisturbed in the other bigger room, complete with scanner/printer and all the other stuff. What I did was get a second mouse, keyboard and VGA monitor in the small room, and passed relevant audio cables from the PT system into the computer with the help of the little mouse hole between rooms. Now I am jazzed. I like all the flexibility of PT, and having all my instruments right near me. Now I got the best of both worlds. So far it is working for me. But I think I just got so damned frustrated at things that I just HAD to find something that would work. So now I am just committing myself to getting in there and getting something, anything out of myself.