Sheesh. (Okay, OKAY.)
My name is Al. A number of you already knew that, though. Given that some troll thought he had important information to provide, along with threats, the information behind his weak IP proxy will be shared with law enforcement, as well as with an old attorney friend of mine who's about as vicious as anyone you'll ever want to meet. (And I do dearly love the fellow for that fine quality.)
I had been planning for some time to get Registered Commenter status set up here, and so I shall now enable it. You can choose your username and password via this form. The MySQL database is such that, unfortunately, your username can be only a maximu of sixteen characters in length, but spaces are permissible, although I don't think really weird characters (you know, like Chinese, Klingon, and Sanskrit) will work, although I can't say that I've ever tried that. The field for the e-mail address is what will be used to authenticate you with a message sent there. Once you respond to that message, about an hour later (enough time for me to run the match to ensure that the e-mail address is authenticatically related to an IP where it was originally set up), you will become a Registered Commenter. The several layers of authentication ensure that no dangerous individuals find their way in here. Your e-mail address will be hidden from comments you make if you so choose, and that e-mail address will not be shared with anyone under any circumstances. If it sounds terribly intrusive, it is; however, it's not nearly as much so as typical authentication procedures in the workplace or in reputable online commerce.
This is all somewhat temporary security, temporary because I do not know how long I shall continue to blog. The health problems about which I wrote last week are rather more severe than I had hoped, but about as bad as I had feared. Fortunately, I shall choose not to hear any more about what's wrong, and that will keep me from getting really unhappy.
The form will remain as a permanent link in the left sidebar. Register if you like. I hope every one of you who has been a commenter of good will and some degree of duration will do so.
The Dark Wraith cruises into the late afternoon.
The Written Peace: Open Forum of May 10, 2007
By the way, those video series, which have become a semi-regular feature here, are part of an on-going effort in which I am trying to build some degree of multi-media presence for Dark Wraith Publishing. I am mindful that they are popular only to a relative handful of the long-time readers here, but they are actually capturing a growing audience on the Internet via YouTube and that strange, word-of-cybermouth virality that has attended the pop culture side of the Information Age.
Some of you might already have noticed that, at the bottom of the main page and the individual article pages, I have embedded a graphical link to "Revver" videos of the lectures. Revver is a service somewhat different from YouTube; perhaps the most important difference, aside from better video quality and several formatting options, is that, under certain circumstances, a publisher of videos on Revver can actually earn revenue. The trick is that a viewer has to watch the whole video and then click on the ad link at the end. The good news about this is that most of the ads aren't all that bad; the bad news is that this revenue-sharing method favors very short videos, ones that will hold viewers' attention no more than half-a-minute. My videos, unfortunately, are painfully long by flash video standards. Because of the YouTube restriction that videos published there can be no longer than 10 minutes in duration, I've made that my usual benchmark, with most of my lecture clips being between seven and ten minutes long. Even though the chances of generating much revenue at all (so far, I've earned 70 cents) are minimal, it's better than the no-chance-at-all way YouTube is run. Google was just the right company to acquire YouTube: yet another way to have others do most of the work while thinking they're getting a freebie from an eternally generous provider that's making all the money and gathering a nearly monopoly position in certain markets.
The videos I'm producing are part of a learning experience. They'll get better; they'll get more polished; and eventually, they'll be marketable on their own as DVDs. Stand-alone marketability won't happen for a while, though, and even if they eventually earn me some degree of commercial success, I swear to you that I won't let it go to my head, at least not to the extent that I become a politician or, far worse, a mainstream media talking head. (For one thing, I know for a fact that I wouldn't be able to maintain proper decorum if I had to sit next to some Right-wing nutjob on a news show.)
Domains for Sale
Speaking of marketability, next month, I'll be holding a private auction to sell my two domains, truth2008.com and truth2008.org. The minimum bids are not something I would care to publish here lest I give friends the impression that I'm a robber-baron, which I might be, but I'd prefer not to give that impression. This past semester, I was granted a temporary status that allowed me to work more hours than would normally be permissible under state laws and collective bargaining agreements (of which I was not, and would not be, a part). With the end of the semester coming next week will come the end of that brief arrangement, one in which I was earning at a rate better than my usual twenty thousand dollars a year. The Faculty Member of the Year Award I just wonsomething I mentioned here awhile backwas more or less nothing but a kiss of death, a faint pat on the head to make me feel good about returning to the trench. Still, it will make for a nice certificate I can put in my Valuable Papers box I keep in the back of my Jeep.
Late next week, I'll post a picture of me in full regalia holding the certificate (appropriately redacted, of course) I'll be given at the school's commencement ceremony.
My cynicism is running a bit on the high side tonight, and that is entirely inappropriate. Last week was scary. For several months, just about every morning in the shower I was having a brief spell in which I felt like I was going to black out. I would have to just stand very still and ride out the episodes, none of which lasted more than a minute and every one of which ended with a rather rapid recovery of normal breathing and heart rate attended by an altogether odd weakness in my legs and knees. By Tuesday of last week, my throat was hurting terribly, my windpipe ached awfully when I'd breathe in smoke or anything else acrid, and I had a couple of spells where I was scared about allowing myself to fall asleep lest I never again awaken.
Those are usually signs that something is wrong. Call me an alarmist if you will, but I tend to get all kinds of worried about death, given my past history with the Grim Reaper's unfortunate habit of repeatedly showing me that departing this life is almost always something less than swift, painless, and noble.
Part of my little package of rewards for being allowed more hours of work was that I briefly had medical insurance. Unfortunately, it's the requirement that employers like mine provide such insurance that makes it nearly impossible to get as many hours as I had. My hat is off to the good, liberal forcesthose in the unions and those in the state legislaturethat so responsibly choose to have hundreds of thousands of people underemployed or unemployed just so a small gathering can have darned good medical coverage.
The funny part about it is that I would have been out of my mind to go to a doctor or to an emergency room for my condition: they would have been more than glad to turn me into a basket case of X-rays, MRIs, endless tests and whatnot, all to the professionally responsible end of making yet another person a semi-permanent member of the medical/pharmaceutical dependency lifestyle, and all to the personal end of bankrupting me after my medical benefits terminate at the end of next week.
It's all enough to drive a perfectly stable person to a Libertarian political convention. That, or a faith healer.
Solving the Problem, Even When the Solution Is Worthless
Anyway, I stopped all use of tobacco, I cut my daily food intake to about 800 calories; and I upped my weight-lifting regimen to 90 minutes a day.
Oh, yes: I also stopped feeling sorry for the pathetic state of my life. The downside of that new-found energy was that I once again had to deal with the annoying truth that there are so darned few people to blame for personal problems. God! but that's irritating.
I need to get rid of the mirrors in my apartment.
From Here to Infirmity
What lies ahead for all of us might not be particularly good, and much of the bad can be laid at the doorstep of the neo-conservatives, the politically charged fundamentalists, the worthless Republicans who appeased them, and the still-pathetic Democrats who could not find the way to stop all of the madness before it had set this nation upon an irreversible course of degradation that will surely cause much unneeded suffering in the decades and years to come.
All of that does nothing, however, to diminish the need for a personal fortitude and the persistent renewal of erstwhile vows to live on without excuses for individual failures. We really do have a fight to engage, and we must take upon ourselves that work without fear of a country that remains every bit as spiteful today as it did the day more than fifty million of its adult citizens saw fit to elect a vicious, hateful, ignorant, venal man like George W. Bush as President of the United States of America.
The weatherman just reported that storms are coming this way. I think they'll be here sooner than we think.
But for the Time at Hand...
Say your peace tonight. This is an open forum, and I'll be hanging out here in the hotel lobby, hoping to see some old and new faces pass through. If the crowd gets rowdy, I suppose I can turn on the jukebox and play some kicky tunes from a few Gothic groups I've heard recently.
That should set the appropriate tone. Maybe we can start a betting pool on which Bush Administration official will be the next to tell the subpoena issuers in Congress to go pound salt.
And before I forget, I wanted to tell you about my new word: if you've forgotten to respond to an e-mail message someone sent you, don't say, "Aw, geez! I forgot!" Instead, you calmly explain that the original message that was sent to you got "Roved," which means, according to the Dark Wraith Cyberglossary, that the message was accidentally deleted and that the accidental deletion was actually intentional.
And, no, the e-mail messages from some of you I haven't answered weren't Roved. I've honestly been busy, and some of that distraction was because I was being vexed by this fellow wearing a tacky black robe with a hoodie and accessorizing with a big scythe.
The whole outfit really worked for him, but I never bothered to tell him that. It would have just encouraged him.
The Dark Wraith turns up the house lights for the evening's festivities.