These two were taken by me:
by Richard Rowell & Lyn Lomasi
After a fun weekend with the kids, Lyn and I were driving home towards Strasburg. We were driving into a bunch of dark clouds and it was extremely windy. However, by the time we actually approached Strasburg, there was a huge rainbow in the sky towards the southeast. Lyn and I both got pictures of this beautiful natural phenomenon. Hopefully, it's an omen of lots of good luck! We need all that we can get!
These two were taken by me:
These 4 photos were taken by Lyn Lomasi.
by Richard Rowell
At some point in your schooling, I’m sure that you had an assignment to keep a bag of sugar, or a balloon, or an egg for a week and care for it as you would a baby. Well, I never got to do this until my senior year of high school in my Sociology class. Many people in my class went pretty far with it. But my diary from the project that I accidentally came across while looking for something completely unrelated is a pretty hilarious read. It’s pretty long, too. But what I really take away from it is that deep down I really, really wanted to be a father. I did finally fulfill that wish of course with Nova Skye, but it’s amazing that even about a decade before, I was already showing those parental instincts.
I’ve cleaned it up a bit to be more readable, as I wrote it like a diary. Parts are a bit awkward, and although I was seventeen at the time, this is not a great reflection on my writing skills. It’s more for the memories and for fun.
Enjoy my “egg” citing week with Chester Benjamin (named after Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and Benjamin Burnley of Breaking Benjamin.) And please excuse the billion puns...
At 7:55, Friday, December the tenth, in the year of our Lord Two Thousand and Four, I adopted little Chester Benjamin. Somebody said he was kind of small, but I think he’s just right!
I am part of a program that is adopting children of pregnant teens that feel they can’t handle children on their own. I have been eager and willing to become a parent, and Chester was enthusiastically given to me. People tell me that he is going to be smarter than most, and I will have no doubt that he’ll be well “egg”-ducated. So in these early days, I will endeavor to do as much as possible to help Chester to learn all he can.
I’d like to say I toted Chester with pride through the hall ways of Brockton High School. No, I left him sleep, especially through Entrepreneurial Studies and the “senior assembly” though I did show Chester to a few colleagues of mine there. When Peer Tutoring came around, I was going to display Chester, but he was clearly too tired and I figured I wouldn’t disturb him.
Chester does not yet eat solid foods, and I wouldn’t dare give him school food anyway, ever! After lunch, Chester soon fell back asleep again. During Math Analysis, though, I’m not entirely sure if he was completely asleep. Chester would seem to have a head for numbers.
The first thing I did when I got home was show Chester our fish (for an early appreciation of wildlife, for God’s little creatures.) Then I introduced Chester to his uncle, David, who is all but 9 years old. I had to be careful to keep him away, as I couldn’t see him handling a precious practically newborn baby. I did however allow him to hold him in his crib in front of our Christmas tree.
Chester’s “grandfather” soon came home, but as he likes to relax for a while after he gets home, it was a bit before he met Chester. I read my English report to Chester. I thought he’d sleep through it, but he actually seemed rather excited. It will hopefully be a very enlightening experience for him; he got to see the writer at work.
One funny thing is: he’s always excited when he’s awake, with his arms wide open. Always wants a hug, I suppose. Another thing that’s bothering me so far; he isn’t crying as much as I expected, and in fact, I haven’t heard a peep out of him yet! It has been a very interesting first day as a father.
Little Chester woke up at 7:30 this morning when I came down stairs. He got to watch me play the Super Bowl in Madden 2005, where I crushed the 49ers with my New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady threw 5 touchdowns. Chester loves football. I can’t wait until the Bengals game tomorrow; Chester will get to see some real football!
I nearly dropped Chester today. I thought I could hold him, and I nearly lost hold of him. No way am I trying that again! He was terrified, but very quickly he was happy again. Nothing seems to bother the guy!
Chester watched his Uncle David and I play Chess. I took plenty of pictures when it was Chester’s turn to play. He made some rather unorthodox moves but David decided to go easy on him. He let him win. At least Chester is beginning to understand the basics of the game. Chester soon wiped out all of David’s pieces and checkmated David with a queen. At 1pm, he had nap time.
hile Chester was sleeping, I worked on my sociology report, which I have decided to do on child abuse, more specifically the psychological aspects of it. It is a very touchy subject and I really wanted Chester to be asleep while I did it, which is why I stopped around 3 o’clock when he was stirring. That is an interesting concept: watching what we say around our children. I hadn’t really thought of it before, much beyond the use of “impolite” and “rude” words.
Parents, I think, tend to keep such topics out of hearing distance of the child for some time until they’re older. The child may very much misunderstand the topic, and talk about it with family, friends, and sometimes even strangers, quite eagerly.
I started teaching him some new words today. I had taught him “fish” and “David” yesterday. Today I taught him, “light,” as I pointed to the lamp beside my computer desk, to the “lamp-post,” and the “light bulb.” I also taught him about the concept of “hot” and “cold,” and that touching the light bulb while the light has been on is “hot” and will hurt, and I demonstrated so (though the bulb I touched really wasn’t all that hot in the first place, so I exaggerated.) I’ve also let Chester watch as I type my journal about him into the computer, telling him, “It’s for you!”
I often find myself rubbing Chester on the head, as does Uncle David. I guess it’s one of the only ways to really show him affection; he is so very fragile, and I am quite afraid of mishandling him. I have also rocked him in his crib frequently; being in a swiveling chair helps that quite a bit. I also move him around in the crib, in different directions. He’s started to turn over a lot more, too. The first time he did it today, he couldn’t get back up, and he wailed a little bit. But within seconds, I helped him back up. I was pretty sure I heard him sigh.
I also tried to teach him the concept of time; as I have said before, he seems to be good with numbers. I also showed him that my watch serves as a kind of mirror as well; the reflective quality of the plastic allows that function. I told him he was seeing his “handsome” self. He seemed to quite enjoy that.
For some odd reason, he likes to lean on his left now when he’s relaxing. I’m not entirely sure as to why this is.
I let him play with a little flashlight that I have. He loved whacking at the button to turn it on and off. I let him play with that for a bit. I also showed him my library card, and I showed him that it gives him some shade in his crib. I’ve given him some water and some mashed up food from last night. He especially loved the ground up steak tips! It’s more than a step up from the formula he had yesterday.
I’m working on making some home movies of Chester. Unfortunately, the camera I’m using is from my mom’s work, and she’s worried I’ll break it or do something bad with it. Man, I know what I’m doing! These memories won’t be around forever! Well, we’re having company over today; Chester’s grandmother is running around cleaning up, and she’s worried about the camera being overused or something, like running out the battery will be this terrible thing. People can be so inconvenient.
Chester’s great-grandmother came over with Ed to visit today. It turns out that Chester has the same hair color as his Nana, red! Ed suggested I teach Chester how to whistle. Since Uncle David is much better at it than I am, I hope that David will give Chester lessons.
Tonight, we had Chinese food, and Chester’s grandfather got the fortune: “It is better to have a hen tomorrow than an egg today.” We got a little bit of a chuckle out of that! I probably should’ve gotten that one!
Tonight, I fed Chester some rice, and he didn’t really care for it; he kept spitting it out. He did however, like the diced up chicken! He ate that really fast!
When Nana left, I swear that Chester said, “Bye!” Then I swear he said it again. But maybe I was just imagining it. Besides, he’s a pretty quiet kid.
I decided, as it was a very eventful day for little Chester that I would put him to bed about 8:15 PM. He didn’t seem too unhappy about that, with a stomach full of the chicken, and I’m sure, lots of little thoughts going through his head. He had a happy day.
Sunday, December 12, 2004
I had three distinct terrible dreams. In one, Chester had been smashed. In another, he’d been seriously cracked, and in another his face was all smudged (somebody attacked him or something, I’m not sure what.) It seemed like I woke up multiple times, and that this was all real. But finally I woke up around 7:15 and realized everything was alright. So Chester woke up when I took the top of his crib at about 7:45. It was a scary night for me.
My dad egg-sat while my mom, David, and I went to see an early matinee of “The Incredibles,” which was, obviously, incredible! Chester slept most of the time while we were out; the only thing my dad did was kiss him on the “egg-noggin.” I wish now that I’d brought him along to see it; but then again, maybe it wasn’t. “The Incredibles” might have been a little too intense for him to see. I mean, he’s only a baby!
Then we watched the Pats game, in which New England won over the Bengals 35-28, in a game with a lot of offense! Afterwards, I was going to watch the Jets-Steelers game (hoping the Jets would pull it out over Pittsburgh) but they weren’t carrying the game in our area, so Chester got to see the writer at work again on my English and sociology papers.
I put Chester to bed about 8 again tonight. I plan to take him out more tomorrow at school than I did Friday, since I’ll actually be going to all my classes.
I let Chester sleep second period. That’s his naptime, and it’s a boring class anyway. He woke up toward the end of second period and I took him out to enjoy English class. It was very eggducational. Actually, I didn’t leave him out very long. I was worried some accident would happen. Maybe I’m being overprotective. I didn’t take him out after that. Fifth period I checked on him, and let him know I was thinking about him. But other than that I kept him in my bag, I need to give him something to do.
Then again, maybe not… Chester is starting to learn some new words. Apparently, as I originally thought was possible, he can hear what’s going on outside of my bag. So he got to hear the movie we were watching in English (which I’m pretty sure he didn’t get) and the discussion we were having about a movie we just watched in Aesthetics of Film. In Math Analysis, well there isn’t much talk going on about math, so not much he can learn there. But he’s learning, “Unca David!” he said. Then he said, “Bye!” Well, he doesn’t know that many words yet. But he’s learning.
I did however teach him the alphabet today. He got it on about the fourth try. I drew some pictures on the computer of words that went along with the letters; I’m not much of an artist at all, but he certainly enjoyed the pictures! He especially liked the R for Rudolph!
Yeah, my artistic skills leave a lot to be desired, but this is one of my best drawings ever!
I’ve had a lot of Christmas music on today. I’ve been singing along to it; they say singing to your child is a good thing to do; it’s a very old practice. I’m not a really good singer, but heck, for your kid, you’re the best there is. Chester’s favorite carol is “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” as you may have noticed it’s mine also. I love reindeer.
It would be great if Chester could make friends with his other Egg cousins. I should ask about that tomorrow in class. He doesn’t know that many other Eggs, you know. He hasn’t been with them since he was very little. He sees them every day first period, but he hasn’t gotten to meet them. He’s getting to that age where he’s getting pretty playful. He was shaking David’s “Digi-Vice” earlier (a Digimon toy that you’re supposed to shake/walk around with to make things happen.) He was well amused with that for quite a bit. I had a little radio that I was planning on letting him listen to, but the little headphones are broken for it; he enjoys playing with the little built-on flashlight, though.
I’m actually glad that Chester doesn’t have a fancy basket or not like that. I’m pretty sure that he’s much safer with his simple Rubbermaid crib. He’s well-protected, well-cushioned. It’s also far more practical than some of these curious, though I must admit creative, contraptions in which to transport la ova. Believe me, it’s not a vanity thing.
Chester slept most of the time today. Later on, we had to go out, so I brought him with us, since besides the fish he would’ve been home alone. I had to go get a flu shot; Chester apparently doesn’t need one because apparently he’s immune to the influenza virus. We then went to Wendy’s… when we got home, Chester, David and I watched a little TV, I played some games with Chester on the computer (yacht, in particular, which is a kind of Yahtzee game.) I spent a good deal of time with him tonight and took a lot more pictures. We also played Snakes and Ladders, man, I must say it is a game of all chance, and there are no choices involved; it’s all the fate of the spinner. Let’s just say he hit a couple ladders and I slid down a snake or two. He won a game of that by a lot.
ASIDE: He is an egg. Sometimes, it’s very difficult to exactly know what to do with him next. I’ve found this assignment to require a lot of creative juices. This, obviously, is not a baby. Babies, real babies, are unpredictable… to be alive is to be unpredictable. Chester doesn’t cry, or eat, or go to the bathroom or anything like that. It all has to be made up.
As much of an odd attachment as I have to Chester, he is NOT a baby. I have watched as those who try to pamper their eggs watch them get broken. I wasn’t sure at first if this overprotection had any parallel into being a real parent. I thought at first that I was just protecting my grade. But no, it’s more than that. I don’t want anything to happen to Chester… I mean I actually worry about him… maybe it’s truly just my imagination getting away from me… but it’s as if he is a real child. My family has been so accepting of him as such. Maybe it’s just been one big joke. Heck, I was trying to make home movies with a digital camera on Saturday (it wasn’t up to the task, though, they came out horribly.) I was actually aggravated that they seemed to be inconveniencing me.
At that point I was actually treating him as my child; affection had gone beyond the assignment for the moment. It’s funny; I’ve always awaited the day when I’ll have a child of my own (I’ve already decided that I will, but no more than three!) and Chester is, in a way, my “warm-up.” Because of Chester, I’ve had to think of his safety, referring to the parallel I’ve found which I mentioned earlier. Mr. Szach brought up the point today that parents wonder what his or her child is doing pretty much every moment. It’s when you’re not looking.
The “accidents” that have occurred, the injustices, the unfortunate circumstances that have befallen the eggs. As much as we laugh at them, these are serious things: disabilities, for instance, the breaking of the egg. “My child is ugly!” These things truly happen, obviously not in the sort of way as an egg but similar! The murders and egg-nappings we’ve seen; these are things that truly happen to real children. It’s weird how what is considered such a “corny” assignment can share so many parallels with the real world.
I probably would not name my human baby Chester (most definitely if it were a girl, for her I already have the name Charity picked out) as it’s just a name I wouldn’t think of using. But it’s going to be hard to let him go, no matter how easily I may turn him over. I will not ever forget Chester… Wait a second… It’s only Tuesday, and I’m already saying good-bye! Oh, geez.
It was a dull boring day, with not much excitement at all. It was one of those days when you can’t think of anything to do. So for the most part Chester and I just took it easy today.
My grandma came and took David and me out for “dinner;” lupper, I suppose you could call it. So I again left Chester in the care of his grand-daddy. He mostly slept while my dad did laundry, and later on they just enjoyed a quiet, quiet evening together.
Sometimes I think it would be easier to have a crying egg; at least it would demand more attention… Chester is so quiet!
Chester got to enjoy the excellent Holiday Concert that the Honor Roll students were treated to today. There were some excellent selections, and the entire band and chorus did a wonderful job. After all, Chester’s favorite music is Christmas music; that’s all he’s been hearing lately here at the house.
Chester seemed rather sleepy today. He really does want to work with me on my homework, though. All he really helps with is inspiration, though.
David played the “Yu-Gi-oh!” card game with him today. I’m not sure that Chester really understood what was going on though. When I told David to play with him, I didn’t mean that at all. But being so obsessed with that stupid card game, why should I be surprised?
So I have to give him up tomorrow. It’s actually been quite stressful, wondering what sort of activities I should do with him.
I got pretty bored last night (I’m writing this the next day) and decided to go play on my keyboard upstairs. I used to play the piano, so I thought I’d play a couple of songs for Chester. Unfortunately, I can remember very few tunes. So I played what I could for him: “When the Saints go marching in” (my personal favorite), “Jingle Bells,” and “Happy Birthday.” I should’ve played “Rudolph,” but somehow it didn’t cross my mind. Music is a wonderful thing, even if it’s as simple songs as those. Singing to children is an important thing. I don’t think they always understand the meaning of the words; heck, for years I didn’t know the meaning of many songs, either. I wasn’t singing along with my playing last night, though, which is unusual because usually I do sing when I’m playing. I was tired, though. Maybe I was and I just don’t remember. Either way, he enjoyed it.
At 7:49 AM this morning, I turned Chester over to a very good friend of mine. With my duties of education right now and my lacking a job, I feel I can not provide to him what he really needs right now. I knew that I was only going to have to keep him temporarily, and yeah, it’s hard to let him go. Most people opted to keep theirs for a bit longer, but I decided to give him up. I gave him up because I didn’t want to become too attached to him. Besides, he’s young, so young, and I know who I’m giving him to will take very, very good care of him. Watching that video about the foster care system, really, really made me worry… at least I know that Chester is in good hands!
“So What Have You Done Since High School?”
Who cares about reunions? Everyone lies at those things anyway. There's always that one guy or gal who made it big. There are a dozen or so who are in the eyes of the world successful, but truly still trapped in the rat race. The rest that actually show up look like they never left home, and most of them probably didn't.
You catch that guy or gal who made it big hiding out in a hallway. Everyone has been asking him or her money all night long. They all want get rich quick secrets.
But I approach and ask a simple question. And believe me, if you want to get anywhere in life, you just have to ask the right questions.
My question is: what is the best way to spend a dollar?
The real successful ones will all answer a little bit differently, but the sentiment is usually the same. Basically, spend it on something that makes you money.
That sounds pretty smart, doesn't it? Most people don't think like that, though. People need to think of things that they buy, besides the obvious necessities like food, clothing. And the like, as assets. Yet we keep throwing our money ät luxuries. Yeah rich people buy luxuries. But it's with money that they made for free.
But wait a minute. How do you make money for free? Well, it's not free, exactly. It does take a lot of time and effort. But it's usually just about putting your dollars in the right place.
Seriously, savings accounts don't cut it. The high yield ones only offer about 1 percent. The stock market is usually too risky for the layman to dive into. Real estate is great, but it's not for everyone. The truth is there is hidden money everywhere. You just have to learn to see it.
I haven't found my hidden cash cow just yet. But I know it's there. It goes beyond just wishful thinking. And yeah it's not easy. Rarely can you do it all yourself. But I have had this idea for a long time. How far can a dollar go?
A candy bar? No, that's not the answer.
High yield savings aren't the answer either. Sure there are plenty you can start with a dollar, but one percent interest isn't going to beat inflation.
The stock market, if you play it safe, can make you between 3 to 5 percent. If you take some risks and are smart about it, you can make 7 to 10 percent. If you're super into the wall street world, you can retire in your 40s.
Real estate is great if you can shore up the capital and find the deals. People that know what they are doing can get 100 to 300 percent returns a year. If you know people, it can be good business.
There are other riskier investments, too. High yield bonds and such.
But the finance I've been most fascinated by is with trading cards. In particular, I’ve focused on Magic the Gathering cards. It's funny because while most of the playing population hates Magic Finance, understanding it actually saves people money. It's because Magic cards have created their own micro-economy.
That's what I'm most fascinated with, the idea of micro-economies. Every industry and hobby has them. That's what I've learned. It's figuring out how to make your entry and learn from others successes and failures.
“You Can't Retire on Trading Magic Cards”
No, but you learn a lot about how people value certain things. How people misevaluate things is where the money is. Magic card finance is just like the stock market. But the returns can be incredible. I've seen people make 600 to 1000 percent return on investment on their Magic card collections.
There is finance for every hobby ever. Someone profits from just about any product that has some sort of widespread appeal. Understanding supply and demand is only a small part of knowing how to win. It's all about seeing the patterns and the trends and the causes behind them.
I haven't made it big yet. I've made some mistakes. But I always manage to turn a profit every time I buy back into magic cards. Some of it is luck, sure. But there is a such thing as making your own luck.
My strategy: buying bulk.
“Bulk is Beautiful”
There is a lot of money in bulk. It’s where most retail businesses make most of their profits. The rest is just good merchandising and marketing.
That's the secret of big retail businesses, buy in bulk, then charge as much for the individual product as the market will bear. That's how big trading card retailers make it. Service businesses are a bit different, right? They sell packages. Yeah, that's nice income. But the bread and butter of these businesses are offering little conveniences. These can include discount consultations or cheap social media updates written on demand. Yup, even then, money is made in volume. That's how you turn a little money into a lot. You do the legwork, you can get anything cheap and sell it at a sweet profit.
But hey, big businesses don't make as much as you think. Most capital comes from investors. That's right. People with money that want to make more money. A lot of them are private, too, not listed on any stock market. It also includes bank loans. Those are investments for the banks, you know.
How do banks make money? Personal accounts. Volume. Bulk.
It’s all about the bulk, baby.
For me, this is what Magic cards are worth, based on relative rarity
$0.003 each common
$0.005 each uncommon
$0.10 each rare
$0.25 each mythic rare
These are the median bulk rates most major Magic card retailers pay for Magic cards. There are bulk rates for other popular games like Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon. Yu-Gi-Oh is usually much lower,for a variety of reasons. Pokemon can be higher, but the margins are lower than Magic in both cases.
Magic is just a really well made game. Almost every card in the game will have a buyer.
(Magic Online is a whole different animal, and I am no expert at it yet. But I haven't lost money overall there, either. I'll get to that another time.)
What makes Magic cards worth money is how badly people want them. Once you understand the floor, you basically can't lose money on Magic cards, unless you're doing it on purpose. It's all about opportunity cost. You want to play with specific cards, then you pay the price. It's the same as with any good, it's just that if you manage your collection correctly you can often break even with your hobby.
Magic cards are a liquid asset. You can always find someone to buy them. That's what makes it such a great hobby.
Then you just have to know what cards can be good. Some are always going to be crap. But any that have potential, if you get them at bulk, you keep them.
So yeah, bulk is good. Stores make a lot off of it.
So when it comes to any investments, I know where to spend my dollar, bulk cards. At least, until I find something better.
Ten thousand words into what you thought would become your first great novel, you find yourself stuck. You force an awkward ending just to bring closure to what has turned into just another disappointment.
Then you look to your left and see the most beautiful woman you could have ever dreamed up. And she's real. You decide to focus on real life for awhile. But something is still missing. You still feel unaccomplished. Even with the blessings you have, you feel sad. Now you have a baby daughter. You feel even more pressure to make something great happen. You want to create something people simply can't ignore. It needs to be something that people can't help but love.
It's true that truth is very often stranger than fiction. For all the good things that may happen to you, the creative mind is never fully satisfied. Yet I keep stopping. I can't do that. You can't do that. You always have to keep your mind focused. Even if you're focused on taking a step back and appreciating what you do have.
Write what you know. What do I know? Part of me much prefers writing about what I don't know. There is a key to figuring out how to best use my creative talents to benefit everyone. No matter how many grand plans I cook up, I always fall short of getting much beyond started. But at least I started right? So what should I do with all the false starts?
Forget them. Start fresh. Borrow what you have to. But I just need to start anew, just like the life my amazing partner and I brought into the world. She deserves only the best.
And so the story begins, the story of how one man turned his words into something special.
by Richard Rowell, Guy Interested in Personal Finance
Recently, I finished reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, a best-selling personal finance book that teaches some of the secrets that rich parents teach their kids. It’s a pretty good book in teaching the basics of certain investment strategies. One of the investments mentioned in the book is one that I had never heard of: tax lien certificates.
Almost every county in the United States of America has property taxes that go unpaid every year. If property taxes become past due, counties in many states actually sell certificates for the amount of the unpaid taxes. The reason for this is so that the county can recoup the money immediately to be able to meet budget. How each county does this is different, but essentially, you buy a certificate that can have interest rates of up to 18 percent attached to them. You’re making a bet that the property taxes are eventually paid, and you gain the interest.
Why would you want to do this? Nine out of ten times, it seems, these certificates become redeemed and you’ve made easy money. It’s actually not a very complicated process, and many of the sales are actually done online.
Here are a few articles that explain the process quite well:
Tax Lien Investing Basics (Part One)
Tax Lien Investing Basics (Part Two)
How to Buy a Tax Lien
The reason I wanted to write about this is that I’m sure most people don’t even know this kind of investment exists. While there is some risk to it, like with just about any investment, it’s a lot better than a savings account in terms of interest. But definitely understand the risks. Here’s a good article about them: Five Risks of Tax Lien Investing.
Not every state offers these certificates, but many do. Of course, do a ton of research before investing in in these. It’s a lot safer than the stock market, though, and if you choose the right certificates, apparently it can be really easy money.
I’ve been saying it a lot lately: I can’t believe how we all start out so small. Obviously, each and every one of us started as a baby. It continues to amaze me just how helpless and fragile human beings really are. Even when we become adults. If you really think about it, do we ever truly “grow up” like society says we should? There’s plenty of evidence that I’ve seen to the contrary.
As I watch my baby daughter, I realize that we probably are our most intelligent in the early days. That sounds strange, but really watch a baby for a bit. Everything is brand new. It’s quite over-stimulating. But as we grow and age, we begin to filter a little bit more out each day. Perhaps that is not true of every single one of us. But generally, this seems to be the case. Babies just see and hear it all. They may not understand much, or any, of it, but this hardly makes babies dumb. They simply have no experience from which to understand things. To be fair, most adults are still babies when it comes to certain things. You never really stop growing, but many people have forgotten this.
Just because you can “function” in society doesn’t make you an adult. It may seem like a joke, but how many times have there been stories about adults and kids switching places? Sometimes, the kids really do a better job. I think I know why this is. Adults forget where they came from. Not all, but too many. Once you lose the ability to just absorb everything you can and appreciate the little details in life, you just begin to lose touch with the best things in life. That’s why children, and especially babies, can find joy in such seemingly simple and trivial things. Actually, they know what’s most important - learning everything you can.
We all start out so small, then too many of us forget that we still are small. Even if our bodies grow to be 3 to 4 times the size we were when we were born, in the grand scheme of things, we’re still puny. It’s the gift of imagination that makes human beings special. We have to remember that the world is vast and the universe is even more mysterious and infinitely huge.
But as adults, too many of us end up encasing ourselves in some imagined bubble that we must remain in so that we can feel “safe” and “content.” It’s actually sort of funny. Babies need to feel safe, right? But as they grow, children can make some crazy risks, right? There is a time where we all must leave our comfort zones and that doesn’t happen in the way that you might think.
There’s a lot more than needs to be said on this line of thought, but these are my thoughts for now.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking tonight. There are a lot of mindless things that I have spent far too much time on. I mean, who among us isn’t guilty of having mindless pleasures or diversions? Sometimes, turning off your brain for a little bit feels good, right? I’m not really so sure anymore. There was a time that I was truly beginning to tap into a reservoir within myself. Deep inside of me, there are things I still need to say. I still don’t quite know how to say some of them. It’s not that they are inappropriate things. Perhaps, some of them are. I don’t know what the proper time or place to discuss certain things might be. But why should I concern myself with what’s expected when it comes to topics of conversation? Why don’t I just say things? Why do I continue to let mindless diversions occupy too much of my free time?
I really should just be speaking my mind. I don’t see the point in holding things back anymore. But I’ve been so muddled lately. At this moment, I’m not going to go in-depth about each of my stressors. I just know I really need to push aside the mindless things and make better use of my time. I should be writing every single chance I get. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say. That is for sure. It’s just how I should say it. So many times I’m taken the wrong way. Then I take two steps back, and I rarely feel confident enough to take just one step forward again. I’ve really fallen behind in writing things that actually make me feel like I’ve said something. I’m just lacking the words to really explain what I’m feeling right now. That is the worst feeling ever for a writer.
But I will do what I can. I will write what I can, because what else is there to do but say what needs to be said?
by Richard Rowell, Guy Who is Feeling Really Emotional Right Now and Isn't Afraid to Share It Because Why the Heck Not?
You know, it's funny how life works. A couple of years ago I was cleaning out my Facebook and trying to get it down to just the people I really wanted on there. So many posts on my timeline were people I knew from elementary and high school. I think pretty much every one of them was married with kids. It made me extremely sad, made me so upset to the point that I deleted probably half to three-quarters of my friends list. It was just because I felt like I was a failure and would never have anyone... I didn't want reminders of what I was missing in my life. I got so bitter and depressed. It was pretty pathetic, actually.
But, it's funny how life works. Fast forward just a couple of months and I met this amazing woman named Lyn Lomasi going through a tough time. I dedicated pretty much every waking moment to her. At first, I couldn't really understand why. I mean, she had 4 kids and I was going through a time where I just needed a reason to get out of bed every day. She seemed like a worthy cause. I couldn't have ever imagined that by October we would be so close that I was willing to dedicate the rest of my life to her.
Fast forward to another year later, and not only did Lyn and I work out, but we found out we were pregnant. Yeah, it wasn't the most convenient time to be bringing a new life into the world, but most of the time you can't really plan these things. Besides, Nova was meant to come into our lives when she did and how she did. This has been an incredible journey and I wouldn't trade anything for it, as difficult as the last trimester has been.
It's scary to think that two years ago I would've been extremely jealous of myself now. Yeah, nothing's perfect. But I couldn't ask for a better partner in Lyn and now I am responsible for bringing little Nova Skye Rowell into existence. I am truly humbled by this opportunity to raise a little human being into, hopefully, an awesome adult. This is why I created the Nova Skye Story.
I don't just want to show her off. I mean, I kind of do, like... HEY, LOOK I MADE A BABY! But that's only natural. The reason I actually wanted to make her own blog is because this is very likely the only child Lyn and I will ever have, and I want to treasure every single moment of it. It's as much for her as it is for Lyn and I. Most people have home videos and photo albums. We have those, too, except they're all organized into a blog.
Having a family is all I ever really wanted, and becoming part of this family has been a real blessing. To have Nova be a part of it is more than I could have ever asked for. So I really just want to make the most of it. I sometimes wonder what Nova will think when she gets older and sees just how crazy I was about chronicling every little first and every single cute thing she ever did. I wonder if it will be embarrassing. I sometimes worry that her friends will laugh at her. But I still want to do it anyway. I want it to be my gift back to her for coming into our lives. That's the way that I look at it.
Funny how life works. Sometimes you really do get what you were missing, in ways that you could have never expected.
by Richard Rowell & Lyn Lomasi, Random Road Trippers
This video is of Lyn and I on the Coyote Song Trail at South Valley Park in Littleton, CO. It's a part of Jefferson County Open Space. I took this video using Lyn's phone because mine was being stupid and kept shutting off. I think it had to do with the iffy signal, but it's probably just old and dumb. It's our last vlog before we get ready to have Baby Nova.
Note from Lyn
We drove and hiked around a lot, hoping it would help ease some of the restlessness and pain before Baby Nova's arrival. At home, I kept wanting to clean and rearrange things I shouldn't be messing with. So, we decided nature was better medicine. We took photos in many (but not all) of the areas, which are pictured below. The thumbnail doesn't show the full view, so click the photos in the galleries and flip through to see them properly. The galleries are sorted by area.
Photos in Deer Creek Canyon, including both South Valley Park and Deer Creek Canyon Park
This area is located in Littleton, Colorado.
All Images © Lyn Lomasi and Richard Rowell; All Rights Reserved
Photos in Morrison, CO
All Images © Lyn Lomasi and Richard Rowell; All Rights Reserved
Photos in Lakewood, CO
All Images © Lyn Lomasi and Richard Rowell; All Rights Reserved
Photos in Englewood, CO & Sheridan, CO
All Images © Lyn Lomasi and Richard Rowell; All Rights Reserved
by Richard Rowell, Random Road Tripper
Yesterday Lyn, Aja, Nathan and I took a random road trip.. Our destination was originally Golden, but the traffic was too heavy to get directly there. So we took a detour through Lakewood and onto Morrison where Dinosaur Ridge is. Unfortunately, it was almost 5pm so we weren't able to do a proper tour. We did have a bit of fun there anyway, and Aja had never been there at all, to my surprise.
While we were there, we saw signs saying "Save Dinosaur Ridge." Apparently, Jefferson County, the county in which Morrison and Golden are, is looking to sell the land immediately around Dinosaur Ridge to developers. They plan to build something called Green Mountain Estates (since Green Mountain is right there) with mixed-use properties. Why would they even consider ruining such a beautiful area? It's right off of C470 which goes directly to Interstate 70, one of the main ones in Colorado. It's also really close to 6th Ave, which goes straight into Denver and nearby Golden. So it's prime real estate apparently.
Of course, while they aren't taking the land directly away from Dinosaur Ridge, who will want to go there if there are tons of mixed residential and commercial properties all around it? It will absolutely murder the natural beauty of the area and Dinosaur Ridge won't be much of a tourist destination anymore since it will be right smack in the middle of a neighborhood!
There's a petition on Change.org to stop this from happening that I've already signed. I urge everyone reading this to sign it. As of 5/20/16 they still need another 8500 or so signatures to bring this before Jefferson County. If this petition doesn't go through, Dinosaur Ridge will be ruined forever. It makes me extremely angry.
Have you had a favorite nature spot that's been taken over by commercial development? I mean, it does happen, but this absolute disregard for what is a historically protected area is just absurd.
Anyway, stay tuned for many more random road trip adventures!
Pics we took at Dino Ridge & surrounding open space (click each photo for full view)
Images © Lyn Lomasi; All Rights Reserved
by Richard Rowell, Vlogger
Today's vlog is a quick one about our visit to the pet store during our quick trip to the local mall. Basically, I don't like how the animals are treated there. What are your thoughts on pet stores and the pet industry in general?
by Richard Rowell, Vlogger
For my first daily vlog, I decided to address the first request that I received. My friend Theresa asked for my perspective on handling a rough pregnancy. For those that don’t know, my partner Lyn and I are now 9 months pregnant with our daughter Nova Skye. We really can't wait for her to come. So here's my take on the situation.
My goal is to do a daily vlog about 3-5 minutes in length. Sometimes the topic will be completely random, but I’ve received a few good suggestions already. If you have any requests for a vlog topic, just let me know in the comments or by email: email@example.com
by Richard Rowell, Blogger Who Posts Random Stuff at the Most Random Time on the Same Random Channel
I could make Hump Day jokes, but those are overdone. Yeah, it's Wednesday, already. Already there was a lot to accomplish this week and lately I haven't been writing nearly as much as I would like. As I had a moment to breathe, I've been thinking a lot about where I am as a writer and just why I don't write as much as I used to. Really, I'm thinking about where I am as a person. I used to do a lot of self-reflection, especially in my poetry, and I don't really do this as much anymore. I really overwhelm myself with little details and trivial matters and distract myself from what the main question should be: what do I have to say and how should I go about saying it?
The thing is that I have a lot of trouble simply accepting life's little victories anymore. It's like I have to go hit a grand slam every single day with every single thing that I do. I'm setting grossly unrealistic expectations. This has happened to me before. I simply cannot accept that I need to just do what feels right and go with it. There's the matter of being able to provide myself and my family with what we need. These two things, the pursuit of happiness and realizing my vocation, should not be in conflict with one another. If they are, then you're doing something wrong. Clearly, I'm doing something wrong.
Writing is my first best skill, and yeah, I've been dabbling in making videos recently. I think I'm fairly good at it. I'm no filmmaker, and I really just do it for fun. I'm never going to give up the writing completely, but when I thought about doing vlogs awhile back, I never committed to the idea. I'm more articulate in writing than I am in speech, but sometimes there are things that I'm much better at verbalizing in speech than in written text. I tried using speech-to-text, but it came out awkwardly. It's not really the same thing as just making a quick little video. I think my issue with committing to it is sticking with something that works. Some people do 365 day challenges. I don't like to plan for things like that. It just doesn't work for me. I have a need to be spontaneous, hence why my blog is called The Ultimate Random.
So where do I go from here? Should I commit to doing vlogs about whatever random thing I'm doing that day? I shouldn't worry so much about making it interesting, because it's really more about identifying the moments in life that we should appreciate more. If things feel too ordinary or routine it's easy to lose sight of the fact that life is an amazing gift. We need to step back from our concerns once in a while just to appreciate the little beauties and complexities around us. Perhaps that should be my focus going forward.
So in a way, I could commit to a 365 day challenge to always be sure to do something incredibly spontaneous at least once a day. Seems like a good habit to get into.
by Richard Rowell, Stepfather and Father-to-Be
On Lyn and I's birthday, we decided to make a little excursion to nearby Englewood, CO. We walked a bit on one of the main trails in the city. I decided to take a few random videos while we were there and the kids were having fun.
Here's one where Aja and Nathan are playing near the canal.
In the second one, apparently Nathan really needed to use the bathroom... and said something inappropriate, but you can barely hear it. It was pretty funny, just one of those things kids say.
In the third and final video, Aja, Nathan, Lyn, and I explored a tunnel under one of the bridges. Apparently, some homeless people were hanging out down there. So Lyn used the experience as a good homeschool lesson. I used the opportunity to make cave music. I do things like that.
Stay tuned for more fun random videos of the family!
by Richard Rowell, Guy Who Likes Profound Stuff, and Uses a Picture of a Cat for This Article Because That's What Pixabay Comes Up With When You Search "Profound!"
I've been watching a lot of philosophy videos on Khan Academy. I've dabbled in philosophy a lot over the years. Yet I've never actually sat and read many original philosophical works. When I have, I find myself lost. It seems like I can't put myself into the right state of mind very often to understand the profound ideas that famous and not so famous philosophers alike discuss. Whenever I've heard philosophy discussed in a modern setting, it tends to go off in some wacky directions. Sadly, I've seen philosophy used to try and justify exactly why we accept certain things that are most certainly unprovable and even outright false as to be true.
Well, the core of philosophy is to discover truth and to expand on how we understand truth. Isn't that correct? In the past couple centuries, it seems that philosophy has become corrupted somehow. It's more about ideologies and backing them up. Everyone's concept of what makes an ideal society or an ideal human being is going to be different. Even if we agree on certain aspects, no matter how many, we are each individuals with different perspectives. These perspectives should be embraced in as much as what makes them different just as much as what makes them the same.
Philosophy should always be a discussion about truth. How each of us understands truth can be wildly different from individual to individual. But what the essence of philosophy is should be a love of wisdom. This comes from the Greek origins of the word. We should always be friends of wisdom.
Ideologies should be thought experiments. There are pros and cons to every one. As long as we are openly discussing the ideas that they are based on so that they evolve, we're ok. Schools of thought are fine in their own right as long as they are not actively oppressing or injuring others.
While there are certainly still many friends of wisdom, the heart of true philosophy no longer seems mainstream. People contort the words of past philosophers in order to bring justification to their own ideas. Rather than building on ideas, they try to base whatever whacky thing they want to make people believe on something that sounds credible. Why are we trying to force anyone to believe anything?
We need to promote more open discussion of how we perceive reality. It's very easy to do nowadays. But there is so much negative energy around the field of philosophy that I can tell. It seems you have to subscribe to a school of thought. And a lot of them have some serious flaws that I can tell. I need to get a better grasp on modern philosophy to see where things have gone wrong.
My primary issue with the philosophy discussions I’ve witnessed in person is that it seems like a bunch of people sitting around pretending to be smart. There is nothing profound being discussed. How do you even know if something is profound? Is it something that makes people go ah? No, that's just interesting. Something truly profound will make some people hate you. They are concepts that leave you on the borderline between genius and madness.
And I think there are plenty of profound ideas out there being squelched or silenced. What is all the fear about? Are we not still friends of wisdom? Have we chosen to be philosophically dim by choice? Do we just have too many distractions or have we been trained to be mesmerized by distractions? I'm heading into dangerous territory but it shouldn't be. We should be all talking about these things. Not just rehashing the past and pretending we're too dumb to build on it.
by Richard Rowell, Son & Father-to-Be
Today is the first day in a long time where I just feel like I have to write some mushy stuff. This is the first time I haven't been able to spend a Mother's Day with my Mom. Actually, there may have been a couple when I was away at college in New Hampshire. But I've never been this far away before.
What makes this particular Mother's Day so special, though, is that it lands on my birthday, May 8th, which I also share with my partner and wifey, Lyn Lomasi. Mother's Day has always been big for Lyn, as she has four kids, with a fifth on the way! With how her pregnancy with little Nova has been going, the newest member of our family could come any day now. There have been signs recently that she could come by today. But we're trying to keep her in there at least another week so that she's at "term," which is 37 weeks.
It feels like I'm going to talk in circles at this point in the pregnancy. There really isn't much more to say until Nova's here. Then there's obviously a lot to say, a limitless amount of stuff to say. even. Thinking back, when my mom was 29, I was about to turn 3. I'm 29, and I have four step-kids of 18, 17, 12, and 11, plus a baby on the way. It's pretty incredible how I went from being sure that I'd never find someone to having all of these blessings suddenly come to me.
And that's what children are. A blessing. Mother's Day is so important to me because it celebrates the ladies who brought us into this world. Without them, we wouldn't be here. To my mom, Deborah, thanks for the 29 years and 9 months you've offered all of the love and support that is humanly possible. Also, happy Mother's Day to Lyn's mom, Jeanne, for all her generosity to this family. And, of course, for bringing Lyn Lomasi into this world, who has given me more than I ever could have dreamed of.
To my amazing beautiful partner and wifey Lyn Lomasi, I could not have asked for a better mother to my child. She's already the mother of 4 beautiful children. It's such a blessing to be a part of this family after spending so many years unsure I would ever have any children of my own. With Nova Skye so close to coming, it's appropriate that my step-daughter Tia decided this would also make the best day for Nova's baby shower. As much as we have to celebrate, all our thoughts, feelings, and prayers are focused on Nova getting here as soon as possible.
This is a bit of a ramble, but I just have a lot to say that a Facebook post just wouldn't do justice for. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the moms out there, including Lyn's cousins Christina and Tiffany who just recently became newly-minted moms themselves. Each of them just had a beautiful baby boy within the past month. Lyn's family has a lot of birthdays in May, as does mine. It's amazing when you think about it that even though Lyn already has 4 kids, having one 11 years after her 4th sort of makes her a new mom all over again. It will be a truly beautiful moment when Nova is born.
For those of us that don't have our biological mothers in our lives, there is still plenty to celebrate. We have our adoptive mothers, step-mothers, and grand-mothers, too. We all know moms of some kind in our lives, and this day is for them. So, as Lyn says, happy mom's day, stepmom's day, foster mom's day, pet mom's day, birth mom's day, grandmas who are surrogate mom's day, dads who have to be mom's day, and everything else in between. If you do anything mom-like whatsoever, you're a mom and this is your day.
From both Lyn and I: You're all amazing! Enjoy your day!
by Richard Rowell, Self-Published Author
Finally, I have self-published the first volume of my collected poetry called From the Pages of Spiral Notebooks on Lulu! The cover was designed by my amazing partner, Lyn Lomasi. It is currently available in both print and ebook form.
Volume I of From the Pages of Spiral Notebooks is a compilation of 29 poems written by me between the years of 2002 to 2004. I hand-picked these particular poems from my personal favorites and from those that have always had good feedback from others. A few of them have never been published elsewhere!
The ebook version is only $1.99 USD and is currently only available to buy on Lulu.
The paperback version currently costs $8.99 USD, but is currently available on discount for only $7.19 from Lulu. You can buy it here on Lulu. It's also available in paperback on Amazon.
As more vendors become available, I will add them to this page.
Please share this news with all your friends. I will be working on publishing the other four volumes that I currently have collected in the near future.
by Richard Rowell, Cancer-Free Guy
3For those that don't know, I was diagnosed with a form of germ cell cancer called mediastinal seminoma in December 2014. It was a large tumor in my chest, but it had not metastasized. Basically it hadn't spread. I was extremely fortunate. I’d been having coughing and bad mucus for months, as well as occasional bouts of nerve pain. It had started near the left side of my chest. Turns out it was the tumor pressing on many different things causing the issues.
My regular doctor thought my symptoms were being caused by asthma. He never sent me for a chest x-ray, though. I later learned that's typically standard procedure for asthma diagnostics. He just prescribed me an inhaler, prednisone, and a Z pack and sent me on my way. It wasn't until my breathing got so bad I went to the emergency room that an x-ray was even done. That's when the tumor was found. It was so enormous that it had probably been growing for quite some time.
Fortunately after 5 months of chemo, the cancer was dead. This diagnosis was made thanks to a pet scan in April 2015, about a month after I finished some brutal rounds of chemo. I've always meant to write about that experience, but that's for another time. I prefer not to talk about it just yet.
I will say that it was highly recommended by my doctors out there that I have invasive surgery to remove the remaining tumor mass. But it was as involved as open heart surgery, and the risks were too great for me to consider it. There was a 30 or so percent chance that I could end up on a respirator for the rest of my life as result of the surgery. The tumor is in a really bad place.
While I went through the motions of the surgery consultation and pre-op testing, I ultimately had to reject the surgery. My family backed me up one hundred percent in the matter. So my doctors reluctantly let me go into what I call observation mode. That means a CT scan every 3 months, with an additional PET scan every 6 months. They do the PET among with a CT scan, so it's not all that bad.
I wrote more about going into "observation mode" back in May 2015.
It was rather fortunate for me that I happened to move out to Aurora, Colorado. Here they have one of if not the best cancer care centers in America at University Hospital. After having all sorts of issues getting scheduled at first, due to transitioning health insurance, I finally got in, and the little care I've had there so far has been excellent. None of the long waiting room waits that I had back in Boston.
I had my first CT scan in Colorado in august 2015 as a follow up. There was no sign of growth from the remaining dead tumor. I was supposed to have a PET scan in November, but it kept being put off for a wide variety of reasons.
As it turned out, that wasn't a huge issue. My doctor here was on maternity leave and wasn't going to be available until April anyway. The other doctors covering for her were booked solid. So I would have had a test and no follow-up until now anyway, which would have made no sense. On March 21st I had my first pet scan in almost a year. Unlike my one in 2015, I did not have to go on a high protein diet 24 hours before which was very helpful in not having to plan special meals. Apparently, some facilities still do this but only when there is concern for the patient's blood sugar level. mine was perfectly fine so they saw no reason for it.
The test went smoothly and I was out fairly quickly. This is because they were able to fit me in right at my appointment time. I was particularly happy that i didn't bleed all over the place this time when the iv was put in. This only happened the first CT scan I had in Colorado. My veins were obviously still recovering from the chemotherapy at that point. In any case, uneventful appointments are always good ones when it comes to cancer.
The PET Results & What I'm Doing to Prevent It Coming Back
When I didn’t hear back about my PET test results until my appointment with my doctor in mid-April, I had to assume that nothing terrible was found. Turns out, the tumor is still not doing anything, although there is a spot they are watching. It's probably just the thymus gland, though. They will just keep watching it. Also my left lung is functioning better now, although we don't know if my lung capacity is still diminished. In any case I should be much better off now than I was a year ago. I’ll be going back in July.
One thing I continue to deal with is severe bouts of fatigue. I dealt with them before the chemo when the cancer was growing. But they have continued. They are a lot less severe than before since I cut out meat. Since my partner and I started having fruit smoothies at least once a day recently, my fatigue has subsided to a noticeable degree, as well.
My partner and I cut all meat from our diets in September of 2015. This was more so for her, as meat upsets her digestive system. It was also to save money. But I've done just fine without meat, although I still get cravings for chicken and shrimp from time to time. We're actually slowly transitioning to a raw vegan diet, but cutting dairy will be very difficult.
So I'm trying to shun more processed foods - even if they are technically vegan - as I can't really function with the level of fatigue i sometimes experience. I just know my diet is improving it. That means I must be on the right track. But it's extremely difficult to be vegan in a house full of meat eaters. I've still prepared meat on occasion for my stepkids. It's hard for me now that I’m completely turned off to it. I still eat meat substitutes on occasion which are pretty good, but difficult to purchase regularly on our tight food budget.
Also, I probably don't talk about my experience with cancer enough. During the ordeal, I kept saying I'd write enough about it to make a book. That never happened. I didn't keep keep a journal as I had initially planned. Other priorities in life sort of made it too convenient to just forget about it. That's why I get so nerve wracked and stressed by even a simple CT scan. It forces me to think about it. But I know that the further I get from it, and the healthier I am in my lifestyle, I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t come back anytime soon.
If anyone is wondering why I seemingly randomly shaved my head... well, I basically had to call an audible on this one. Basically, I needed to do something with my hair because it was out of control. It was becoming all greasy and it was constantly getting tangled. Lyn helped me trim it awhile back and it looked perfectly fine. We meant to trim it again, but with Lyn not feeling well at all, it just didn't happen. I finally got sick of it and Lyn offered to help, so I figured the hell with it, let's do it.
But when Lyn tried to trim it for me, there were all these bald spots already there. Now considering that I had chemotherapy that ended in March of 2016, it makes sense that it may not have all grown back correctly. But that isn't the case. These bald spots were not there when she last trimmed it. Actually, it looked perfect at that time. But I wanted to go shorter this time, since it's getting to be summertime in Denver. As she cut it though, there were all these strange patchy spots, especially at the front and on the sides. There was also a bit of a patch around the crown, too, where the worst of my hair tangles have been. I was standing in front of the mirror with a horrible looking bowl-cut.
At that point the only way it wouldn't look like hell was just to take it all off. I hesitated for a moment because I really didn't want to be bald again. Now, I've been bald before due to the cancer treatments. So I'm really sensitive about it because it takes me back to that. Still, I honestly don't care for myself looking completely bald. Other people seem to really like it, though. My aunt goes as far to call it my "victory" look.
Also, recently I've been looking for work to bring in a bit of extra income. As for potential job interviews and such, it won't hurt my chances being bald. That much is certain. But that has nothing to do with it. I looked and felt like crap, so at least I don't look like crap anymore. I will also say that I've enjoyed the complete lack of maintenance. Besides, I don't really have to look at myself that much. The rest of the world has to look at me, as it is. And Lyn has always loved the look on me, so that's probably the only opinion that matters anyway.
So it's probably that I'm actually going bald anyway. I am two weeks away from my 29th birthday. I do have a family history of baldness. I'll survive. But my hair obviously won't!
I’ve been watching Major League Baseball every season since around 2000. Typically, I follow the Boston Red Sox most closely. But I keep an eye on what every one of the 30 teams is doing. This year, I haven’t been following nearly as closely. Moving to Colorado, even with MLB.TV, I saw very few games. And the Red Sox weren’t good at all last year - although, they got better at the end after it didn’t matter anymore.
The Red Sox made a huge splash in signing pitcher David Price. They made other moves as well that make them a significantly better team. But I simply have no time to sit and watch games. With a baby on the way, I’ve made the decision that I won’t be watching any Red Sox games this year. That is, unless they happen to be free MLB.TV games of the day. While they are doing one-team packages going forward, I’m not going to spend the money to never really be able to watch them anyway.
As it is, lately, following baseball has taken a back seat for me when it comes to hobbies. I’ve been focusing on Magic the Gathering. Even that I probably won’t be into as much soon. I’ll keep writing articles when major releases come out - those articles have always done well. But my sports writing has never taken off. It’s a saturated enough field now that I really don’t see any point in keeping up with it anymore. I’ll probably go back to commenting on major moves on Sports Break. But outside of that, I’m probably done with sportswriting entirely.
Once things settle down and the baby gets older, I’ll probably come back to following sports more closely. I pretty much ignored the NFL until the Patriots-Broncos AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl - both of which were good games (yeah, I rooted for the Broncos in the Super Bowl). But yeah, the Red Sox are on the back burner this year. I really do hope they have a great season and I’ll check in on them from time to time. But I have bigger priorities now.
Still, Go Sox.
Readability has become a top priority for my writing now. Well, that should go without saying, right? From the end of 2014 to early in 2016, I really haven't been editing my writing nearly as much as I should. Much of that has to do with the fact that I was extremely sick or recovering during that time. I got into the bad habit of just publishing first drafts after a cursory grammar and spell check. It became about just publishing when I could.
Thing is I tend to write at a pretty high level sometimes. When you're writing for the Web, it's good to use shorter sentences. I tend to get long winded. Sometimes a sentence just won't end. Thoughts just flow and I just let it come. If I spend too much time on figuring out the simplest way to say something, I lose track of my train of thought. I've been using a tool to quickly identify super long sentences. Anything that drags down readability I'm sure to edit now.
It's not so much that I'm trying to break down my work to a fifth to eighth grade reading level. That's what is suggested by many Web writing experts. Even as I was reading over articles from late 2014 and early to mid 2015, I was having trouble. My overall ideas were fine and my organization was OK. But I rarely used subheadings, which a lot of Web readers love. Heck I need them to scan over what I might want to reshare.
This new focus on making my work easier to scan, at least for articles, should make for a much better experience across everything I write. For my random stuff I probably won't use headings or focus on SEO. That sort of goes against the nature of a random blog. But I still will work on sentence structure. It's not that I'm writing incorrectly. I just need to simplify my run on thoughts into more digestible chunks.
by Guy Who Suddenly Writes a Lot on This Blog
One of the trickier things about human communication is understanding context. We can understand context in one of two ways, at least according to the Oxford dictionary. The first:
“The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed”
“The parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning”
I'd like to start with the latter definition first, before moving onto the first. Here we are talking about context clues. You may not understand a word or a particular phrase or sentence. But taking into account what surrounds these unknowns, you can make an educated guess on what they might mean.
Now we return to the first definition of context: that which concerns circumstances. This is at the heart of what I want to say about context. Sometimes, it's very hard to fully understand certain circumstances. Each person will react to context in a different way. This is because any given circumstance affects an individual necessarily in a different way.
You can put two people through the same exact trial. Afterwards, you make an off hand remark. The words themselves are harmless, said in a neutral tone. One may well chuckle. Another may storm off and slam the door behind him or her. Was the context of the remark misunderstood? It may well not have been. It was just understood differently.
There are times I have found myself taking remarks completely out of context. Is this a failure of good communication on the speaker's part? Or is it my inability to understand the context of the remark from the speaker's perspective? I often don't think carefully through what other people say. It's not that I don't care. Actually, it's the opposite. I tend to over-analyze people's words so much that I lose sight of context.
It seems one area I really need to work on in life is better taking into account context. Sure, others probably should work on this, too. But I have the most effect on myself and the others around me through my own efforts. Especially when you have young children constantly around you, it's good to be the best example that you can.
Taking a brief moment to consider context before making a small judgment is important. But equally important is another problem I have. Sometimes I'll have no immediate reaction to something that's said or done that actually bothers me somehow. Then I spend too much time thinking about it until the original context is lost. What was said or happened gains a new context. I then happen to misremember the original situation. Pretty soon I find myself taking a lot of things out of context and I'm not quite sure what's happening at all.
In some ways, I'd rather have an immediate reaction and feel stupid in the moment. But instead I try to rationalize what I find to be irrational. I just go too far with it. Once a nagging moment is taken out of its original context, certain thoughts emerge. This is perhaps how certain imperfections of memory occur in people on a regular basis.
Perhaps, this habit of over-analyzing stems from the fact that I tend to be quite an introvert. Sometimes the only context that matters happens to be whatever my state of mind was at a given time. I live in my own context more than I probably should. I think a lot of people do. It's something I definitely need to work on.
If I'm going to over-analyze, I need to be sure to put a more constructive slant to it. I wouldn't consider myself a judgmental person. I'm actually forgiving to a fault. But when I become stressed, I can't forgive myself for suddenly being snappy. Apparently, other people can. So I have a definite lapse in understanding context that I need to work on. No one's perfect. I just need to better understand why my context lenses get so foggy.
By Someone Who Doesn't Have to Be a Relationship Expert to Know This Stuff
What is my secret? How did I attract a beautiful partner? What is it about me that makes it so I just sit there and I'm somehow desirable? Why didn't I realize before what I needed out of a relationship? Where can we end up going together? When will I stop asking so many questions?
You know, it's fine to ask questions. Some may seem too personal to ask on a first date. Hey, I never really tried dating. Actually, I've never dated at all, not in the traditional sense. I've hung out with some persons of interest before. These encounters were interesting. Hardly any of them went anywhere soon afterwards.
You can get a sense fairly quickly if there's no future in a relationship. At least, that's what I've come to believe. In my teenage years, though, I was pretty delusional. Weren't most of us? Very few of us knew what we wanted in a partner. Our teenage years mostly teach us what we don't want. That's actually probably more important at that point.
Hormones do some funny things. This isn't to say those I found attractive in my younger years really weren't. They were, at least physically. Just not in the way that matters. The only thing that matters is personality. And yet somewhere along the line you end up convinced that you have a type. Let me tell you: there isn't really a type. You just happen to meet someone and it works. No matter your differences, you just make it work.
The secret? Just do your thing. Get that picture of the perfect soul mate out of your head. But don't settle. It's OK to be shy. The right one will be interested. Just don't miss your chance. I followed this line of thinking. It worked for me.
by Guy Who Plays SWTOR Too Much
On release day, February 11th 2016, I played the much anticipated next chapter of the Outlander story on Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). While I would like to write an entire article about my experience, I'd like to refrain from spoilers. So in lieu of giving it the full Gaming Successfully treatment, I elected to write more of a random “impressions” type post.
Overall, I was satisfied with Anarchy in Paradise. It had a good mix of action and plot, with some interesting dialogue choices that could have significant effects later on. Much of the chapter revolves around the mysterious “Firebrand.” While I won't give away her identity here, to veterans of the game, she will look quite familiar.
It only took me a couple of hours to complete the chapter entirely. Like much of the Outlander story, it was pretty straight forward. While I enjoyed the various boss battles, only one of them came close to being a challenge. My max level well equipped Jedi Consular proved to be more than a match for this new episode.
My main impression is that this seemed like too little to wait for. There is a reunion with a thought to be deceased character that was cool to have after the conclusion of the chapter. I don't want to spoil it for those that haven't played it. But it's a fun little scenario.
Anarchy in Paradise advances the story well. I just wish that there were a bit more side adventures to it. Yeah, you're going to be at max level for this adventure. So you don't need the experience. But the rewards for completion are sadly minimal. It was well developed story wise. It just went by too quickly and left me wanting a lot more. But I suppose that's the point.
I was thinking about a phrase that sounded like it would make a good title for a poem or a journal entry or something. That is, “slumming on a Sunday.” However, the connotation of the word slumming would mean that I'm somehow dealing with being less comfortable than I would prefer. That's not really true at this moment.
However, there have been days that I have indeed slummed on a Sunday. But this isn't one of them. Really as long as I can find something to write about, no matter how random, I'm not really slumming it. I could probably be out in a blizzard. If I could construct a makeshift shelter and a pen and some paper, I'd probably be content for awhile.
Have you ever slummed it on a Sunday? Why would you consider it such?
Richard Rowell is a freelance blogger and creative writer who writes on a wide array of topics including marketing, positive thinking, writing advice, and more.
He is a staff writer and co-owner of the Write W.A.V.E. Media Network, contributing to various sites in the network, such as Article Writer for Hire, Life Successfully, and Write W.A.V.E. Media itself.
Today, Richard focuses on producing high-quality content to help clients become thought leaders in their respective fields. He is also happy to coach anyone who wants to become a better writer, and is open to help anyone critique, edit and proof their work.
He loves cats, music, and giraffes.
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