[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Thursday, 2012-05-31

Collaboration marketplace needed

Filed under: Books,Work,Writing — bblackmoor @ 09:01

Old booksI had an idea a couple of months ago. It would be a marketplace for writers, editors, and artists to come together as collaborators. It would be driven by the authors: in the new model of book distribution, authors are in control. They set the prices, they decide where the book will be distributed, and they are the ones that get paid by the distributors.

But authors need talented editors and gifted artists. Most authors aren’t either of those things. How is an author to find an editor with a good track record, one who sees themselves as on the authors side? How can an author find a cover artist or map artist who can meet a deadline and produce work according to spec? And how can the editors and artists find the authors who need them and who will pay on time (editors and artists want to feed their cats, too).

So my idea was a marketplace for this, where authors, artists, and editors would meet as peers. Everyone would be able to review everyone else, but only if they’d worked with them. The marketplace site would make sure that everyone got paid, and would act as the middleman to keep everyone honest. For this service, the marketplace would keep, say, 10% of the transacction (which should be enough to cover the site’s costs).

I pitched this to the company I work for, but it was too far from our current business focus to interest them. I would love to get it started, but I don’t have the start-up capital or the business acumen to make it work. I wish I did. So, here it is: a business that I believe is desperately needed. If you have the resources to start a business but just lack the idea, feel free to use this one.

Sunday, 2012-02-19

Looking at the snow, February 19, 2012

Filed under: Family,Friends,Work — bblackmoor @ 16:21
falling snow

I am here with my cat Vixen watching the snow fall, and feeling very grateful for how my life has turned out. I am not the smartest, wisest, or most hard working person I know. And yet, here I am.

I think I have generally made good decisions, but I have also made a number of mistakes. That my mistakes have not ruined my life is … I am tempted to say miraculous, but of course that’s nonsense. Good things happen to people who are better and worse than I am, and bad things happen to people who are better and worse than I am. There’s no secret plan. No hidden hands are pulling strings. Life is just chaos. We can ameliorate it a bit, but we can’t eliminate it. We can choose whether to build a house on sand, but the snow falls on the just and the unjust alike.

I’m not sure I would even want my life to have been perfect. Some of my most entertaining memories are from times when things went wrong. I once spent 24 hours in snowstorm, trapped in a crappy little Chevy S10 pickup truck that was nearly out of gas. I started the engine for a few minutes once every couple of hours, just to keep from freezing. All I had to eat was a frozen pizza I found behind the seat. I had nothing to drink at all.

It’s not 60 days in a Chilean mine, but it’s about as life-threatening as my memories get.

I have been really phenomenally lucky, all thing considered.

I wonder about my family and my friends, sometimes. They are good people, by and large. They have made decisions, some better than mine, some worse than mine. Chance and chaos have taken their toll. I look at their lives, and I would not trade with any of them. Do they feel the same way about mine? I really hope so. I hope that despite the things that have gone wrong, that they appreciate what they have, and would keep it even if offered the chance to trade.

The snow is a couple of inches deep now. I wasn’t expecting this. It was 60 degrees yesterday (15.5 degrees Celsius).

I really hated this house when we bought it. I hated it for not being what I wanted. I wanted two basins in the master bath. I wanted a vaulted ceiling in the living room. I wanted hardwood floors. And so on. I am more materialistic than I would like. I think it’s because I grew up poor (although even then, I never truly wanted for anything — I had a safe home, and food, and clothes, and toys, and parents who loved me).

Suffering is caused by desire, or so the Buddhists say. There’s some truth in that, obviously.

yellow flower

I have been noticing more about the house than what it isn’t, the past few days. Being grateful for what is, rather than resenting what isn’t. I would like to do more of that.

I just noticed that the yellow flower that bloomed yesterday, the first flower I have seen here, is covered by snow. I am going to go put a plastic cup over it. Maybe it will survive.

Tuesday, 2011-12-13

Crazy December

Filed under: Fine Living,Friends,Gaming,Work,Writing — bblackmoor @ 23:16
Welcome to our haunted house

It’s been a crazy December. The craziness actually started in October, with my wife being in car #2 in a five-car accident on the freeway. She is almost healed up from that, and she has a shiny new Honda, so all’s well that ends well, but still, it was a crazy time for a while there.

I am spending a lot of time working. I haven’t counted the hours, but I would estimate somewhere around 60 to 70 per week. I don’t mind that: it’s close to the end of the project, and everyone’s antsy — and I love my job. But it means that I have not had as much time to indulge my hobbies as I would like.

One of those hobbies is my car, a 2003 Hyundai Tiburon. I have been meaning to do some cosmetic work to it for, well, months, but for a lot of those months, every weekend it was either raining or over 100 degrees outside. Bleh. Lucky me, my car was hit in a restaurant parking lot. That time of the year, I guess. The lady who hit me was honorable and asked around for the owner of the car. The insurance settlement was enough to repair the damage she did, and also took care of the cosmetic stuff I had been planning to work on.

Another hobby is a superhero roleplaying game I am working on. I would really, really like to have it completed by the end of the month, and on DriveThruRPG by mid-January. But we’ll see.

I am not the only one with problems. A dear friend of mine —

Let’s sidebar, for a moment. English is a great language, rich with the diversity of the many cultures we have absorbed or conquered, but I feel it has a few serious deficiencies. One of these is our word “friend”. I think we need at least three words for what is currently referred to as “friend”. We have “acquaintance”, of course — someone whom we have met, and perhaps encounter socially from time to time, but whom we do not actually know and with whom we do not intentionally socialize. Then we have:

The social friend: You drink with him at parties, and maybe have lunch with him once in a while just to have some company. He’s amusing, most of the time, and you don’t mind talking to him, as long as the conversation stays light. You might know his political or philosophical beliefs, but if so, it’s because he volunteers that information to anyone within earshot, not because you actually want to know, and not because he has any interest in what you think. You’ve never met his family, nor he yours, and if something serious happened in your life, you’d probably think of telling him the time you ran into him, but you would never make a call specifically to tell him your personal problems, nor would he think to make such a call to you.

The good friend: You have lunch because you enjoy each other’s company. You help each other move, if you don’t have plans. You talk about your kids, or your spouses, and you actually listen to the other person. On the other hand, you probably don’t talk about the intimate details of your marriage problems, or how broken up you really were when your cat died. You might not ever be truly close, but you respect each other and you like each other.

The dear friend: You have known each other through good times and bad. You have disagreed, sometimes quite seriously, but your friendship has persisted long after those disagreements have been forgotten. If you go out of town, he’s the first one you ask to watch your cat, and if he asks, you agree immediately. If he calls you and needs a ride because his car broke down in Pennsylvania, you ask him for directions. If he is in trouble, you respond. It’s just that simple.

So, as I was saying, a dear friend of mine had some personal issues a week or so ago, and for a while I was worried about him. I still am, actually, but not as much as I was a week ago. But it was really surreal for a while.

On the other hand, it hasn’t been all bad. After literally years of searching, we have finally found a house that is closer to where my wife works (she commutes an hour each way right now) and which she likes. This was no small feat. It’s also nearly $100,000 less than some other houses we were looking at just a few weeks ago, which pleases my wife more than pretty much anything else ever will. As it happens, the interest rates just bottomed out, so we are getting a good deal all around. Barring unforeseen catastrophe, we should be moved into our new (to us) house by the end of February, which is outstanding.

So… crazy, crazy month. That’s what I am saying.

Saturday, 2011-11-05

Pretty good week

Filed under: Gaming,Work — bblackmoor @ 01:11
Bulletproof Blues

Pretty good week, aside from dealing with the repercussions from Susan’s car accident. Made pretty good progress on a work project, caught up so that I am no longer behind in my class, more or less finished the cover for my first commercial game product in 16 years, and contacted a few publishers who might be interested in releasing source material for the aforementioned game.

Monday, 2011-09-12

Ruminations on an excellent Monday

Filed under: Work — bblackmoor @ 18:32

This was the best Monday I have had in some time. The weather was yet another beautiful Richmond day. Vixen is exceeding my expectations as a kitten. I solved and documented a programming problem that was hanging me up last week, and I can finally put that entire phase of the project behind me (barring as-yet-undiscovered bugs).

Not that everything went perfectly. I caught myself repeating an old pattern of behaviour that I find distasteful. Arguing about things that don’t matter, to be specific. I caught myself, backtracked as well as I could, and made a note to avoid that path in the future. I have more than enough positive, helpful influences in my life, and I’m a great deal happier when I move in those circles.

And now, today’s “my favorite song”!

Monday, 2011-08-29

The Mugs of August – Forsvarets Fjernundervisning mug

Filed under: Art,Food,Travel,Work — bblackmoor @ 21:25
Forsvarets Fjernundervisning mug

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

In April and May 2003, I went on a long business trip to Europe for SAIC and Joint Forces Command, on behalf of the Partnership For Peace. Susan went with me. We visited the Czech Republic, Germany, and Norway. Norway was the last leg of our trip. We stayed in Oslo for nearly a week.

Oslo is a very interesting city. It seemed to me that everything was made of stone, and that the streets were deserted. Part of that perception was caused by the fact that Susan and I would wander around late at “night”, when normal Norwegians had gone to bed. But it was broad daylight. Oslo was very clean, and even the prostitutes seemed well dressed.

It was very expensive, though. I seem to recall a Big Mac cost almost $10. We didn’t eat at McDonald’s — I was just curious about the prices. I did have whale steak while we were there. I didn’t care for it, actually, but I am glad I was able to try it. If you’ve ever had a really horrific bloody nose, with golfball sized clots in your throat… it tasted like that.

I spent my days at Akershus Castle, a 13th century fortress which now houses museums, and at the time also housed the Forsvarets Fjernundervisning (which translates roughly as “Norwegian national defense distance education”). Like all of our hosts for that trip, our Norwegian military hosts were friendly, and proud of their city and their history. They gave Susan and me a private tour of the castle, and gave each of us one of these mugs as a parting gift.

Fun fact: in Norway, they don’t dub movies. American movies have American soundtracks. They also learn other languages in school at a very young age. Our hosts generally spoke English while we were around. I only overheard them speaking Norwegian with each other a few times. It actually did sound a lot like the Swedish Chef, believe it or not. But their English was superb, and the younger they were, the better it was. There was a contractor for IBM who I’d assumed was from California, based on his accent. Imagine my surprise when we took Susan and me out clubbing, and we found out that he was a local. His English was just that good. Not that I am criticizing anyone who speaks English with an accent. I have tremendous respect for anyone that learns English. I think that’s amazing. But his English was flawless.

Wednesday, 2011-08-24

The Mugs of August – Absolutely huge travel mug

Filed under: Art,Food,Work — bblackmoor @ 22:59
Absolutely huge travel mug

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August, and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

This gallon-sized travel mug is another of the mugs Susan received while working at Philip Morris doing environmental and recycling stuff. This one is from Weyerhaeuser. “Weyerhaeuser creates sustainable solutions to the world’s challenges through the development of innovative forest products that are essential to everyday lives.” In case you didn’t know.

Look at that mug, man. Man, that sucker’s huuuuge !

It’s a big mug, that’s all.

Monday, 2011-08-22

The Mugs of August – Travel mug made from corn plastic

Filed under: Art,Ecology,Food,Work — bblackmoor @ 23:06
Travel mug made from corn plastic

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August, and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

You might think this is just an ordinary plastic travel mug. Au contraire! This mug is special. This mug is made from corn.

Susan works in the environmental field. From lead and asbestos, to recycling and greenhouse gas emissions, to domestic and international carbon trading programs, she’s done it all. She was given this mug while doing her environmental thing at Philip Morris a few years ago. It’s made entirely from corn plastic.

You see, when we run out of oil in a few decades, we’ll run out of plastic, too. The USA uses something like 200,000 barrels of oil a day on plastic packaging alone. That’s right: 200,000 barrels of oil a day, on stuff we throw away after we unwrap it. In theory, corn plastic will be the substance that replaces all that petroleum-based plastic when the petroleum is gone. Of course, corn plastic isn’t perfect. We still throw away an enormous amount of, well, everything. But you have to start somewhere.

P.S. “Degesch America, Inc. is located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley town of Weyers Cave, Virginia, USA. Degesch is a worldwide leader in the specialized field of stored product pest control.” In case you wondered.

Sunday, 2011-08-21

The Mugs of August – Circuit City Oktoberfest 2006 mug

Filed under: Art,Food,Work — bblackmoor @ 21:39
Circuit City Oktoberfest 2006 mug

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August, and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

In 2006, I worked at Circuit City for six months. It was my first job in Richmond, and the beginning of our new life up here. Sadly, I immediately saw that the handwriting was on the wall. The company was woefully mismanaged: it was clear that the people making decisions in upper management had no awareness of what anyone working in the company actually did. I was hired during one of the brief upticks in what was obviously a years-long death spiral. Circuit City became the first of a series of companies on my resume which are no longer in business.

I did get this swell Oktoberfest mug, though.

Friday, 2011-08-12

The Mugs of August – Nikon camera lens mug

Filed under: Art,Food,Work — bblackmoor @ 20:53
Nikon camera lens mug

I am going to post a photo of a coffee mug every day in August, and talk a little bit about where we got it and why I like it.

I bought this mug for a friend who is a photographer. He’s been in IT for years and years, and we have shared some of the same anxieties and frustration that can cause. He got a new job about a month ago, and I was so happy for him, so I bought this for him as a gift. I haven’t seen him since then, which is why I still have it.

When I bought it, I thought it was a travel mug, but it’s not. The lid closes tightly: it’s not something you can drink through. Ah, well. I don’t think my friend drinks coffee, so this is just a novelty for him anyway. I hope he likes it.

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