Escaping From The Alien Con 2016

The Alien Con 2016 is the newest science fiction convention to come to Silicon Valley at the Santa Clare Convention Center on October 28-30, 2016. My goals for this particular con was to talk to Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica/Longmire), get the autographs of Katee Sackhoff, Jewel Staite (Firefly), and Marta Kristin (Lost In Space), and attend the Godzilla panels with the suit actors from 1954, 1985 and 2000 movies. Things didn’t quite work out that way because Alien Con wasn’t a regular science fiction convention. I was lucky to escape when I did.

Although I had a three-day pass for the weekend, I attended only Saturday. The programming for Friday wasn’t enough to overcome the fatigue of attending after work from my technical job (I did swing by to pick up the badges for my friend and I) and Sundry wasn’t enough to overcome the fatigue of being on my feet for seven hours on Saturday. Except for the Star Trek Las Vegas Con, most cons don’t have enough content to keep me preoccupied for the entire event.

Autograph Tickets

The first order of business was to pick up the autograph tickets that I’ve ordered through GrowTix (they also handled the ticketing for Silicon Valley Comic Con earlier this year). I originally had Angela Cartwright (Lost In Space) on my autograph list, but I got an email and a partial refund from GrowTix on Friday night that she cancelled her appearance. Except that she didn’t. She was at the autograph tables when I arrived.

A volunteer at the autograph ticket booth informed me that her autograph was available for cash only. Since she was charging a higher price than the autograph ticket I previously bought, I scratched her name off the autograph list.

The automatic partial refund also invalidated the QR code for my autograph tickets that I loaded into my iPhone Wallet. A volunteer called over a GrowTix representative, who, after I provided my email address, generated a new QR code for scanning and I got my autograph tickets.

Panels (Or Lack Thereof)

My friend and I went over to where the Battlestar Galactica and Godzilla panels were being held inside the Hyatt Regency hotel next door to the convention center. None of the volunteers knew exactly where the Magnolia and Napa rooms were and kept telling us to go up the escalator to where panels were being held but not the ones that we wanted. After we circled back and forth between the hotel (up escalator) and convention center (down escalator), we figured out that we needed to go underneath the escalator to find the Magnolia room.

We waited in a line for a half-hour until a volunteer announced that the Battlestar Galactica panel room would accept no more people. Since we found the Magnolia room, we went looking for the Napa room to get in line for the first of three Godzilla panels. With the narrow hallway crowded with people waiting in lines for different panels, we couldn’t find the Napa room. We did found ourselves at the side door to the Magnolia room, where volunteers ushered us and others into the two back rows of empty seats.

Since Edward James Olmos (Commander Adama) cancelled his appearance (“abducted” according to the Alien Con website), Katee Sackoff had the stage to herself. She told stories about her time on Battlestar Galactica and her guest appearances on The Big Bang Theory. When someone asked a question about the current season of Longmire, she left everyone in suspense by telling them to wait until next Tuesday for the new episode.

After that panel was over, we found the Napa room with the doors closed and a volunteer announcing that the Godzilla panels were cancelled as a translator wasn’t available. A different translator was available for the “Grilling with The Godzillas” dinner at a Korean BBQ restaurant that night and a Godzilla panel for Sunday morning.

My friend paid $199 to go to the Godzilla dinner, which became a gathering of hardcore fans. One person flew in from New York City, others drove up from Los Angeles and down from Seattle. Those Japanese suit actors really know how to party, as the scheduled two-hour dinner lasted four hours.

The Exhibit Hall

Alien Con had an exhibit hall at the far end of the convention center — and that’s where things got very strange indeed.

While walking all the way over to the exhibit hall, I’ve noticed several smaller technology conventions taking place that each occupied a large room. Like several of exhibitors at Alien Con, the focus was on Virtual Reality (VR) technology. With an abundance of Chinese attendees and Chinese characters on the display signs, it was impossible to tell what aspect of VR technology was the focus. When I inquired at each one, I was respectfully but firmly turned away from company events being held for the employees.

The first thing you see when walking into the exhibit hall is a massive foam replica of the Psychlo alien ship from “Battlefield: Earth” by L. Ron Hubbard dominating the floor, someone playing a Psychlo alien that looked like a short ape in a space suit on elevator boots (the Psychlos are 12-feet tall and weigh 1,000 pounds), and two tables with L. Ron Hubbard books for sale. Considering that L. Ron Hubbard has been dead for 30 years, I found it surprising to find a booth dedicated to his work.

Coincidentally, I started reading “Battlefield: Earth” before the convention since Amazon had the ebook on sale for $1.99 USD. The book itself was surprisingly good. This got me interested in reading the “Mission Earth” ten-volume series. I’ve read the first three books when first published as hardbacks in the 1980’s but lost interest in collecting the rest of the series. With Amazon offering each ebook for $5.39 USD, I’m reading the entire series from beginning to end.

A quick stroll around the exhibit hall didn’t reveal much of interest. Among the usual vendors that sold the same comics, posters and Funko POP dolls at every con in Silicon Valley, I came across a book booth that proved beyond a reasonable doubt that alien abductions were absolutely true. That should have tipped me off that I was entering the Twilight Zone.

The Alien Conspiracy Panel

Before entering the exhibit hall, I noticed a long line next to the doorway that wasn’t moving. As I got finished looking around, I’ve noticed that a portable stage went up and someone setting up table, chairs and microphones. I went over to stand with about 30 people. A moment later, a thousand people from outside filled the space between the stage and the L. Ron Hubbard spaceship. This was an angry crowd that was verbally demanding their money back, screaming “Bullshit!” at the top of their lungs, and threatening to murder the guy setting up the stage. This felt like a Trump rally that was ready to explode in violence.

For a very intense 30 minutes, I listened to crowd around me.

Most have stood in line for four hours to attend an alien conspiracy panel originally scheduled in a small room inside the hotel. Unlike the line for the Battlestar Galactica panel, these people weren’t willing to find something else to attend. Hence, the angry line and panel got relocated to the exhibit hall.

One women described in great detail about how aliens abducted her from a family farm in Ohio and aborted her unborn baby when she was a teenager. Someone else mentioned that the “believers” attending the panel were angry old white people, possibly dying from various radiation-induced cancers, and that the next generation won’t continue on with the “work” that they spent decades pursuing. The guy making Trump jokes soon found himself surrounded by several men telling him to shut up or else.

A woman and a man stepped up on the stage. The audience started clapping and cheering, surging forward and pushing me closer to the stage. The women breathlessly announced her credentials as a university professor in the paranormal and extraterrestrial phenomena since the 1970’s, that she interviewed thousands of people who got abducted by UFOs, and how Wikileaks will finally reveal the government’s program to cover up the existence of UFO’s.

At that moment, I felt an urgent need to leave. When I saw a man walking past me and forcing his way back through the angry crowd behind me, I stepped into his wake to follow him. Soon several others were following us. We went our separate ways behind the L. Ron Hubbard spaceship. I circled back through the vendor booths to exit a side door and escape to freedom.

The Autographs

After that bit of excitement at the exhibit hall, I’ve decided to get my autographs done and get out before the police in riot gear breaks up the weird and pissed off alien conspiracy crowd.

While I was waiting for Katee Sackhoff to autograph a Longmire picture, I asked a her question that’s been bothering me as a fiction writer: “What’s the fundamental character differences between Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace (Battlestar Galactica) and Vic Moretti (Longmire)?”

These two characters are both strong women who wear uniforms, carry guns and kick ass. In my mind, they were the same character. As a writer who occasionally write short stories with female protagonists, I couldn’t accept that and felt like I was missing something obvious.

Katee told me that she played the characters quite differently from each other: “Starbuck takes everything seriously. Vic is more sarcastic about life and doesn’t take things as seriously.”

That’s something to think about.

Attending The Heroes & Villains Fan Fest 2016

Last Saturday I had an opportunity to attend the Heroes & Villains Fan Fest 2016 at the San Jose Convention Center after a friend got two Saturday passes for the price of one. A fan fest wasn’t something I would normally attend, as it doesn’t appeal to me as a writer and I’m unfamiliar with most of the stars who attended. Since I’m a big fan of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, I made the panel with Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson) and Chloe Bennet (Daisy), and a signed autographed from Chloe, the focus of my day.

The show fitted inside the main hall with space to spare, making it smaller than the Big Wow Comic Con before it hulked out into the Silicon Valley Comic Con earlier this year. The autograph booths lined the back wall. A small number of dealer booths occupied the middle of the floor, mostly merchandise and artists. The kid zones had a zip line and bungee jumping. The panel stage off to the far side had a wide open space around it for fans who didn’t want to line up to sit down for the panel.

As I surveyed the autograph booths during my initial walk through, it was obvious who was popular and who wasn’t. The stars who won the popularity contest was “Guardians of The Galaxy” (Michael Rooker) and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (Clark Gregg/Chloe Bennet). Everyone else, meh. Then again, I might be biased here in my opinion.

The “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” panel started with a recap video of Season Three that led up to cliffhanger scene of Daisy being emotionally devastated by the loss of her boyfriend who sacrificed himself to save everyone else, and, six months later, she’s on the run from Coulson and his team for using her superpowers to demolish buildings. Clark and Chloe came on stage to answer questions from the moderator and the audience. Although Season Four is several weeks away from premiering on TV, they couldn’t say too much about what was forthcoming.

Chloe was a lot of fun while standing in line to get her autograph. When mom called she turned her phone around for everyone to say hi. When a couple presented their baby in a one-piece Jedi robe, she picked up the baby and posed for a picture with the mother. She also flashed her well-toned arm on request. When my friend asked how dark Daisy would go in Season Four, she found a still photo on her phone that showed Daisy as a bad ass emo chick with too much eye shadow (something that she mentioned several times during the panel that she would like to have less of for her character).

As for the autographed picture that I got, I picked the one showing Daisy leaning back against an S.H.I.E.L.D. vehicle on an airport tarmac. Out of the five pictures available at the autograph table, this was the only one that had a “light” background. All the others had “dark” backgrounds. I’m not entirely pleased that Daisy had gone off to the dark side at the end of Season Three. Of course, this could be a bit of misdirection going into the new season. It’s always possible that Hydra will sprout another head and produce a new villain for everyone to chase after.

After the panels were over for the day, The Rayford Bros took over the stage as Batman (guitar), Robin (bass) and Riddler (drums), singing old rock and roll songs from the 1950’s and 1960’s. I recorded a video of their “Back to The Future” tribute of playing “Johnny Be Goode” by Chuck Berry, and posted it on my YouTube channel. My first fan fest ended on a satisfying high note.

This Blog Post Is A Dumpster Fire

The newest catch phrase on the Internet is “dumpster fire,” which I’ve been hearing in reference to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign (or lack thereof). If you paid attention to the election so far (most voters won’t tune in until after Labor Day in September), the short-fingered vulgarian turned political pretender had a horrible week: attacking a Muslim family whose Army son died in Iraq, proclaiming that his sacrifices in business was equivalent to a family losing their son in war, attacking the Republican leadership for not supporting him, complaining about a crying baby at a rally, and the list goes on and on and on.

A real dumpster fire is no fun.

My roommates and I had rented a three-bedroom triplex in Cupertino for six years when we decided to move out in 2001. The Hong Kong owner was happy to see us go, as we were only paying $1,600 per month in rent. With the Silicon Valley real estate market going insane in the run up to the Dot Com Bust, the owner doubled the rent to $3,200 per month and found tenants shortly after we moved out.  If he still owns the triplex today, which is down the street from the new Apple campus under construction, it wouldn’t surprise me if the apartments went for $5,000 per month.

Since we were parting ways and moving into smaller apartments, we decided to throwaway a lot of stuff. I got tasked with acquiring a 10-yard dumpster that got delivered to the parking alley behind the triplex. Sofa, love seat, kitchen table, books, old electronics and the accumulated crap from inside the attached garage went straight into the dumpster. We had so much stuff that it towered over the four-foot walls of the dumpster, presenting a problem on how compact everything below the wall height before I could call the company to remove the dumpster.

On the Sunday morning of our last week at the apartment, we learned that the dumpster caught on fire. The bonfire got so hot that it melted the glass pane in the laundry room window ten feet away. The firefighters quickly put the fire out. Since they initially believed it was spontaneous combustion that caused the fire, they took a fire ax to the garage door lock and found an empty garage. The arson investigator concluded from eyewitness reports that a passing homeless person tossed a burning match into the dumpster after lighting up a cigarette.

The dumpster fire reduced our towering possessions to two feet of soggy ashes. While that created room to throw out more stuff, it created more headaches for me. Even though my name wasn’t on the lease, the property manager held me responsible since I ordered the dumpster that got delivered too close to the building and I was the only one among my roommates who had rental insurance. The roommate whose name was on the lease decided to disappear for a while, leaving me stuck with winding down the apartment.

After several weeks of phone calls with the insurance investigator and the property manager, the insurance company declined coverage as the fire took place outside of the apartment. The owner’s insurance policy covered the damages. The property manager wanted to pursue legal action against me, but the owner declined to do so since his rental income doubled. I’m damned lucky to get out of that dumpster fire.

Or so I thought.

A year later I moved in with a different set of roommates who found a nice apartment in a San Jose triplex. The property manager for that triplex also managed the Cupertino triplex. We had to meet in her office to sign the rental agreement. She spent an hour roasting me for what happened at the old apartment in front of my new roommates, whom I’ve already told about and they enjoyed me being on the hot seat. She then surprised them by announcing that they were getting the apartment because she trusted me as being the only responsible adult among them. They didn’t like being burned that way.

Deleting Drive-By Hate Comments

One of the most popular pins I have on Pinterest is an editorial cartoon from three years ago, where an official complains about a breastfeeding mother in public while standing in front of a Victoria’s Secret store with a model displaying boobs for commerce. My comment to this obvious irony was an ironic snark: “Nursing a child in front of a Victoria’s Secret store is criminal. Guys don’t need any more help in visualizing boobs.” This week I got a drive-by hate comment regarding this pin, which I promptly deleted as inappropriate.

Here’s the unedited comment from Dee Gee:

Your disgusting. The only one sexualizing a completely innocent act of feeding a baby is YOU! You’re the problem. Not that mother who’s natural instinct to her child crying is feeding her. “Why don’t you pump and bring a bottle? It would make everyone comfortable.” BECAUSE IM NOT GOING TO PUMP FOR 2 DAYS TO MAKE YOU COMFORTABLE FOR 10 FREAKING MINUTES!!!!!!! Ugh! Put a blanket over your own head you sexist.

For the record, I have no problem with breastfeeding in public. I’ve seen mothers use a blanket to cover up while breastfeeding on park benches to mothers who take off their shirts to let it all hang out while breastfeeding on buses. Of course, I live in Silicon Valley. I’m used to dealing with people from different cultures from around the world, speaking languages other than English and behaving in ways that I wouldn’t behave as a white metrosexual.

But I do have a problem with this comment.

The woman who wrote this projected her hatred on to me, calling me disgusting and sexist, and that I was sexualizing a situation I’ve never actually experienced. Why? Because I pointed out the irony of the double standard that exists in the United States regarding public nudity as expressed in the editorial cartoon, where breastfeeding is scandalous behavior but advertising boobs for commerce is not.

Sometimes the irony gets lost on some people who are too literal-minded. It then becomes their God-given right to leave a drive-by hate comment; as if their insights will change anything in America (the rest of the world doesn’t have this puritanical hang-up). The only thing this comment show is how ignorant the person is.

What makes this more interesting is that Dee Gee repinned my pin to one of her boards. She’s probably unaware that I’ve deleted her comment 15 minutes after I received the email notification and 45 minutes after she posted it. Her one and only follower—probably mom—won’t ever see her comment. By repinning my pin without her comment, she is effectively endorsing my ironic snark regarding the underlying situation.

Her “thank you” board is a blend of news items from the right-wing echo chamber that my lily-white, tea-party loving relatives in Idaho send to me all the time. This kind of nonsense since the beginning of the Obama Administration in 2009 is what turned the 2016 presidential election into a reality TV show, dooming the Republican Party to the same fate as the Whig Party in 1848.

As a content creator, I have the God-given power to delete comments willy-nilly. I don’t delete comments unless they are inanely stupid—and this one qualifies. A drive-by hate comment isn’t something I want to promote on Pinterest or anywhere else.

Update 07 August 2016: Not surprisingly, Dee Gee’s Pinterest page went away. I guess mom didn’t like the drive-by hate comments.

Can A Successful Women NOT HAVE An Unfaithful Husband?

“The Intern” is a charming little movie that explores the differences of old and new in today’s workplace. Robert De Niro plays a 70-year-old widower who finds retirement boring, sees a flier for a “senior” internship position on a bodega bulletin board, and submits a YouTube video with the assistance of his grandchild. Anne Hathaway plays a woman who started her own online fashion store that is a runaway success, has an adorable young daughter, and a restless stay-at-home husband who is cheating on her. The last part pissed me off. The successful woman and unfaithful husband has become a Hollywood motif.

Two 2007 movies come to mind: “Freedom Writers” and “Juno”.

Hillary Swank in “Freedom Writer” plays a new teacher in the Los Angeles school district who takes on the task of teaching English to a group of minority students that the experienced teachers have given up trying to teach and who segregate from each other by their own racial and gang affiliations. As she reached out to these students by making them understand the consequences of the Holocaust and reading “The Diary of Anne Frank” relates to their own life, her husband feels neglected by her success and divorces her when she refused to give up on her students.

Ellen Page in “Juno” plays a high school girl who has sex with her longtime friend and finds herself pregnant. She defies expectations from classmates and adults by arranging for a childless couple to adopt her baby. The wife with her own successful career is ecstatic at becoming a mother. The husband who works from home writing jingles isn’t thrilled about being a father and announces his intentions to get a divorce, putting the adoption in doubt. Despite the difficult circumstances made by the unfaithful husband, the baby was born and the wife becomes a single mother.

Why does this particular Hollywood motif get me so pissed off?

As a college student in the campus ministry in the early 1990’s, I knew two couples who started dating. One couple expected to become bible talk leaders and the other couple were already bible talk leaders. When the leadership reorganization got announced for the fall semester, the women were bible talk leaders and the men were on the sidelines. Both men reacted to this with a considerable amount of pissing, moaning and groaning about God, the leadership and even their girlfriends for being at fault. I told them that they needed to support their girlfriends or watch their dating relationships implode in six months. As I was a still a new Christian at the time, they did not listen to me and learned nothing six months later when their girlfriends broke up with them.

I would love to see a movie where a husband not only respects his wife’s success but also plays a supporting role that makes them both successful and happy. The conflict in the story shouldn’t have to come from the husband having his head permanently stuck up his sorry ass. Not all men are pricks.

Moving The Author Websites Again

Five years ago I left the Internet Service Provider (ISP) I was with for 15 years because my websites disappeared during a week-long service interruption. The one-man operation that my writing business depended on had lost both leased lines from separate carriers to the Internet at the same time. Resolving those issues and adding a third leased line prevented the owner from communicating with angry customers. After the service got restored, I’ve already moved my websites to DirectNIC and the owner graciously accepted my cancellation notice. Last month I moved my websites from DirectNIC to DreamHost for entirely different reasons.

I never have any problems with the web hosting at DirectNIC until a server upgrade in 2013 caused my websites to disappear on April Fool’s Day. After I opened a support ticket, my websites got split up to different servers that left some working and some not working. That didn’t get sorted out until I complained on Twitter with the support ticket number. Whenever DirectNIC announces a new server upgrade, it never goes smoothly for my websites.

Over the past year, I started experiencing resource errors—a lack of available CPU, hard drive and/or memory—that knocked my websites offline for a few minutes to a few days. Numerous support tickets got opened, some of which I complained about on Twitter. No one could tell me why this was happening. The CPanel shared hosting interface doesn’t allow me to get under the hood to see what was going on from the Linux command line. The support tickets devolved into a series of “your servers, your websites” finger-pointing that didn’t help anyone.

As 2014 drew to a close, I desperately needed to upgrade and update my websites to the latest and the greatest in technology and contents. That wasn’t going to happen with DirectNIC, as my websites have grown “too brittle” to update without knocking the websites offline for three days. I made the business decision to move the websites to a different web hosting provider.

I searched around the Internet to find DreamHost and immediately signed up for the managed Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting for $15 USD per month. DirectNIC web hosting had my websites shared with other websites on the same virtual server and provided no access to the Linux command line. DreamHost gives me the whole virtual server for my websites and access to the Linux command line. With the Python scripting language installed on the server, I can write scripts for repetitive tasks and experiment with Python-based website frameworks like Django and Flask.

Moving the websites took a few days, but working out the kinks took a week. With access to the command line, I found damaged files that needed replacement and corrected file permission issues. My websites are now loading twice as fast and updating normally without knocking all the other websites offline. CPU usage is less than one percent, while hard drive and memory are less than 30%. I shouldn’t encounter any resource errors for a long time.

DirectNIC still has my domain name registration business, which I’ve never had a problem with in the last 15 years. Changing the DNS addresses for my domains pointed them to the new web hosting. After I opened a support ticket to cancel the web hosting at DirectNIC, I got an apology that things didn’t work out and credited three months of payments to my account.

Switching web host providers was the easy part. Upgrading and updating the websites will be harder, something I’ve been putting off for over a year. Soon I can switch focus from behind-the-scenes technical issues to rebuilding my author platform.

I Am Charlie Hebdo

We Are Charlie Hebdo

On Wednesday, 7 January 2015, two Islamic terrorists stormed the offices of Charlie Hedbo, a French satirical newspaper that has in the past published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, sparking a three-day reign of terror that ended with a dozen people dead. This attack on free speech failed to intimidate the survivors of the newspaper. The next issue came out the following week with the Prophet Muhammad holding a sign that “Je Suis Charlie” (“I Am Charlie”) on the cover.

As a writer with a Christian background, I believe that free speech and freedom of religion goes hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other. Unfortunately, too many religious people take their religion too seriously by making every little detail a life-and-death struggle. Stepping back from something absurd and laughing with God is impossible for them. It’s easier to take offense and shoot down free speech. Without of freedom of speech, there’s no freedom of religion. No democracy can survive without having both.

As a young teenager, I read “Job: A Comedy of Errors” by Robert A. Heinlein, a satirical novel about a modern-day Job who suffers a series of misfortunes through alternating realities. The novel ends with revelation that Job suffered because Jehovah (Christian god) tried to welsh out of a bet with Odin (Norse god), which a higher authority had to settle after Satan intervenes to right the wrongs against Job.

I haven’t read the biblical account of Job until I became a Christian ten years later in college. The Heinlein novel became funnier to me after I became familiar with the source material for the story. Neither the words “bet” nor “wager” appears in the Bible, but that was what God and Satan were doing by tormenting a righteous man to see if he would turn away from God. Most Christians believe this story was about mankind being righteous to the end no matter what happens in life. I always believe that this story said more about God than mankind.

Most Christians lack the capability to have an honest discussion about God if it challenges their literal (or absolute) perceptions of the Bible. When the ministry did a series of lessons on the Book of Job, no one wanted to hear about the Heinlein novel or consider that God might welsh out on a bet. Some people took offense that I would even read something other than the Bible. But no one threatened my life because I mentioned a satirical novel about God during our bible discussions.

Some people did anoint themselves to run me out of the church because I thought differently about God. That took 13 years to happen, where I suffered more than Job did in either the Bible or the Heinlein novel. I’m thinking about writing a satirical account of my misadventures as a Christian in modern-day America. That might offend some people.

I’ve published the controversial Charlie Hebdo cover on my blog because the mainstream media is too afraid of the Islamic terrorists. If this offends you, please leave a comment below or send an email to chris at cdreimer dot com.

Writing In The New For 2015

A new year is always a good time to set new priorities after reviewing last year. I’ve decided to focus on what I’ve become since I made a decision in late 2006 take writing serious: writer, blogger and publisher.


Fiction was easier to write. I wrote 30+ short stories published in over a dozen anthologies and three unpublished novels—a sprawling 700-page first novel, one-third of a second novel, and the outline for a third novel—that went nowhere. Despite my initial publishing success, I spent more time on publishing ebooks in the last few years. I have dozens of short stories in various drafts that I’m waiting to finish (someday).

Non-fiction was never easier to write. (As Stephen King once said, “The problem with non-fiction is that you just can’t make [crap] up.”) The few essays I did write and published as ebooks were long, hard slog that emphasized the creative pain rather than the creative pleasure of writing.

Since ebook publishing is my biggest source of writing income, I can’t deny the sales numbers. Non-fiction ebooks sells better than fiction ebooks. While I may clear out the back log of short stories, the priority is on non-fiction. Blogging in general, essays in particular.


Being a successful blogger has always been an elusive goal for me. If traffic and advertising numbers are any indication, I’m a dismal failure. I could blame the underlying technical issues that made routine blogging and updating the author website a major chore. (Those issues will get fix in the next three months.) It’s really about buckling down to get the job done.

A Silicon Valley Writer (ASVW) – This writing blog that you’re reading went on a bi-weekly publication schedule several years ago. Some months I was consistent, other months I was more—or sometimes less—consistent. This past summer I stopped posting at all and the rest of 2014 only had four more posts. I’m going back to a weekly schedule by posting on Sunday evenings.

Kicking The Bit Bucket (KTBB) – Since I started this new personal blog about Silicon Valley, California and whatever else in 2013, I’ve been more consistent to the weekly schedule. That fell apart in 2014. I skipped weeks at a time and wrote the missing posts later. Not the best way to build a steady audience. That will change with postings on Monday evenings.

Once Upon An Albatross… (OUAA) – My old personal blog about Silicon Valley, California and whatever else from 1997 to 2012 has become a favorite haven for North Korean hackers, spammers and other undesirables. I need to finish cleaning up the content for ebook publication. As for the website itself, I may convert it into a static website to discourage the riffraff.


I’m entering my fifth year as an ebook publisher with nearly 60 SHORT ebook titles (i.e., short stories, essays and poetry). I need to look backwards before I can move forward. I’m updating the cover art, revising the content, and writing new descriptions to boost sales of existing ebooks. Meanwhile, I’m prepping the source materials for ebook publication this summer.

Writing Out The Old In 2014

With 2014 coming to a close in a few days, I’m looking forward to putting this year behind me. Not that 2014 was a difficult year. That honor goes to both 2008 (being eaten alive by bedbugs) and 2012 (my father dying from cancer). With being unemployed for the first half of the year, and starting a new non-writing tech job that demanded much of my time for the second half, 2014 was an unproductive year for writing short stories and publishing ebooks.

Writing daily haiku on Tumblr started off great as a New Year’s goal for the first six months. Plenty of time to write multiple three-line poems while unemployed. That became touch-and-go when I started the new job in Palo Alto, as my initial daily commute required four buses and two hours each way. That changed to three buses and one hour each way when I started taking the express bus. I did get 16 haiku published in various publications. Like everything else this year, daily haiku fell off to the wayside.

My vintage Black MacBook (2006) dying after eight years of faithful service took the wind out of my sails. I wasn’t in a position to get a new Mac anytime soon. Repairing the MacBook was out of the question, as it had an obsolete 32-bit CPU and software updates required a 64-bit CPU. Although I continued my job search on the Windows PC, ebook publishing came to a halt without Adobe Photoshop for creating ebook covers and the Bento database for managing ebook details on the PC. While Windows alternatives do exist, I prefer a Mac to get work done. I’ll get a replacement Mac in 2015.

Writing in general was a mixed bag. After publishing 30+ short stories in 16 anthologies in the last five years, this year was a total bust with ~6,000 words for new short stories and no first serial anthology sales. (Several reprint short stories saw publication in an omnibus collection and an audio podcast.) Between this writing blog and my personal blog, Kicking The Bit Bucket, I wrote ~30,000 words. As I’m frequently reminded by my ebook sales, my non-fiction sells better than my fiction. I’m thinking long and hard about my future direction as a writer.

What 2014 taught me was that I need to set interlocking priorities in my personal, professional and writing lives. After being unemployed for three of the last six years, filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2011, and 20 years away from retirement with nothing in the bank, I need to get serious about my non-writing tech career. Unless I get extraordinary luck (so far I haven’t), being a full-time writer won’t happen until after I retire. Maybe then I’ll have more time for writing, blogging and publishing.