2014: Let the games begin!

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I should be back to regular posting tomorrow. But I wanted to drop this post on a low traffic day and thank all you regs for the support, both financially and emotionally, you have provided during the toughest year of my adult life. It would have been far worse without you guys. I’ve been on vacay, in part keeping tabs on my mother, she’s having some health issue, but she was well enough to dig up the pic above. That’s a 19 year-old Steven with my beloved bike and windjammer faring in the bottom right corner, in 1982! So much life ahead!

Got great news this week: my blood counts are perfect, hemoglobin is now 15.5. It was 21 at the height of the leukemia scare. My doc told me yesterday that that kind of elevated hemo increases stroke risk by a factor on the order of a 100.  I celebrated with Four Loko last night. On a downside, I did finally lose my job, so I can now reveal I worked at Blizzard, maker of World of Warcraft. But it’s a new year, new hope, with health and a little luck, we can do a lot of good. Let the games begin!

Safe in DC

I’m safe in the nation’s capital (Run Forest, run!), specifically, staying near old town Alexandria near Hunnington Station. A red, white, and blue, good ole American region built on traditional family values, like tobacco addiction, and novel labor agreements facilitating cotton production. I’m off to meet people, maybe I’ll find something worth blogging about.

Secret projects & long shots

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My primary laptop is getting a cheap tune up at a local shop this week, that’s why posting has been light the last few days. For now, I’m using an old Dell netbook, with a teeny-tiny screen, that acts more like an obstacle between me and writing than a conduit. Hopefully I’ll have a new desktop, built out of donated parts, soon that will blow doors on currently available gear. I could use some DDR3 RAM for that project or any small contribs anyone can spare to the Paypal or a snail mail address linked above.

I’m flying into DC on Sunday, just in time for the kind of big storm that this Texas boy hasn’t seen in years. The risk of being stranded is real, but it’s also kind of exciting: we southerners so rarely see snow in any form, much less accumulations on the ground or trees laced in delicate fractals of ice. I’m doing some tourist stuff while there, but I’m also working/pitching a project I’ve been working on for years. [Read more...]

Sunday school for atheists

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“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

I posted Friday that I’m fighting CIGNA for two and a half months of Short Term Disability pay they owe me. That pay is only 60% of hourly base, minus a week here and there they call an initiation period of or some shit, so it works out to about $6.05 an hour even if I win. Sometime in the next few days or weeks I’ll be fired if they continue to blow me off. Here’s the real kicker though: In Texas you don’t get to file for unemployment if you’re deemed too unhealthy to work full time.

Under this system it is entirely possible for CIGNA to decide having a serious problem that initially caused a heart attack followed by an array of complications, some of which could have killed me or rendered me a vegetable, aren’t serious enough to qualify for the pay. They would decree I’m too healthy. And that would be enough to get me finally fired. But at the same time, when filing for unemployment and having to list the reason for being separated from service, Texas could legally decide I’m too unhealthy to work, deny people like me unemployment on those grounds, and basically tell us tough luck pal, you should have applied for short term disability! [Read more...]

They say money can’t buy love … secrets of blogging revealed

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Internet and even cable TV/phone have been dicey all day here in Central Texas. I’m sure it’s the cold, but it’s not that cold. So I haven’t been able to thank you all for the great response to this post begging for money, some of which came with gems of humor thrown in: after reading how tough the last few months have been for me, one person wrote “I’m NOT going to pray for you … instead I’m giving you something that will actually help!” and they enclosed a nice paypal donation. I laughed pretty hard and my shame for having to hold my hat out vanished with that short sentenced reminding me of what we’re all about.

In addition, a motherboard and processor has arrived from readed “M,” it’s one hell of a start to a nice system. Well, it’s a dreary day, they say money can’t buy love, but I sure feel gabby with you folks, and so I thought it might be a refreshing change from most blog posts these days to talk a little bit inside baseball on how bloggers and websites are making money, outside of ad revenues and blegging. IOW, the new stuff, some of it on the up and up, some of it a little invasive in my view, some of it going on when you have no idea and no say about it — even though it’s learning ALL about you. [Read more...]

Mr. Non-believer goes to Washington

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Thanks again to those who have kicked in to help me this year! I’m maybe 20% of where I need to be. A snail-mail address is linked above for those who don’t use Paypal. In unrelated news, I’ll be visiting Washington, DC this month, for a few days beginning around the 15th, and could use any suggestions on things to see or places to go (The Air & Space Museum is at the top of my list). It’s part of a science-y engineering side project I’m working on, nothing to do with skepticism or evolution or anything like that, but it’s a trip I don’t have to pay for and might result in some paid work. Which is great, because it’s not just me who’s broke, blogs all over are hitting their readers up this season. In large part because advertising pays much less than it once did. A LOT less. And our side just doesn’t have the kind of financial infrastructure, i.e., a zillionaire donor network, paid fellowships and cushy consulting jobs, cross-site lead generation, commissions from book and CD sales, all that stuff means my ideological counterparts don’t have to practice a hobby: they enjoy a career.

The holiday season is upon us!

By the right of no power invested in me by anyone, I declare this holiday season officially open (And the EAC war on Christmas about to commence). It certainly feels festive: it’s so cold in Central Texas that even the Intertoobz are sluggish and few will venture outside unless and until they have to. It’s been a tough year, beginning with a freak heart attack, an elevator ride into healthcare poverty, a big complication from surgery, then the underlying blood disorder found in the midst of a cancer scare while being threatened with my job and health insurance by the usual corporate brutes. Then to add insult to injury, last night Family Guy killed off … we’ll I don’t want to spoil it but they need to bring that character back toot suite.

But thanks to you guys and gals at FTB, this blog has been a sorely needed bright spot for me without which I would be in even more dire shape. Thanks and happy holidays to friends, trolls, and frenemies alike!