You’ll have to come looking, I guess

I ditched active participation in Twitter several months ago. The outrage cycle was tiring. People shouting THREAD over and over again was tiring. The endless punishment of women and people of color while the Nazis were constantly given what could only absurdly be termed “free speech consideration” was exhausting.

Twitter seemed so full of promise once. It looked like it could change the world, and unfortunately, it did.

It’s like a high-speed microcosm of the Boomer generation, all promises of a new world of prosperity and ideas shared and debated, but then money and power start making demands and everything gets thrown in reverse. Such is Twitter, and such is America forever if we don't figure it out.

Though I had “left”, I kept coming to Twitter when called; I still had my blog alert my followers there when I made a post. I did that because of you, because Twitter brought a tsunami of wonderful people into my life, and I am desperate to stay in touch and remind you all how much you mean to me.

But it was also about ego. It was about “outreach”, a word that here means faves and attaboys. I hunger for that too, and it is a part of me that I would drag into an alley and kick to death if I knew how. But I can at least starve it.

I have no dreams of blogging professionally. I have a career that I like that pays me more than all but the most successful writers dream of, and that gives me options I would not otherwise have. So it wasn’t ever about money or fame. I’m just a dog whining to be petted, when you get right down to it.

I could justify that to myself before, but it's getting harder now. Not when women are being banned for criticizing men while the president* unintentionally brags about the size of his clitoris to North Korea and intentionally stokes the fires for war. I can't even distantly participate in a service that bigoted and loony. If I do, I’ve sold off the best part of me just like Jack and Biz did.

So I’m done. Facebook will never touch my new phone and I'm cutting the last remaining cord to Twitter.

I do hope you'll keep poking around here from time to time, and yes, that is still about both you and me. I'm working on it. But I hope I'm at least finally content to wonder whether anyone's listening, without seeking an answer.

Squarespace Is Made of Sasquatch Poems, It's That Valuable

So the hurricane hit the east coast. My web host, Squarespace, is in NYC. They put out a notice saying sorry, we're pretty much going offline because of this, and we'll be back up in no time, pinky swear.

I checked in on Halloween to schedule my last post, and lo and behold, they were up. Already?

In fact, they haven't gone down. They haven't gone down because they're running a generator to keep their servers going. They don't have a solution to pump fuel in, because their basement flooded. So how are they fueling the generator?

They're hauling in fuel in buckets.

By hand.

Up 17 flights of stairs.

While pumping water out of their basement.

All night long.

This, people, is a company that wants your business. If you need web hosting and don't give them your money, you are literally torturing puppies. It's that bad.

I have rarely been as happy to be doing business with anyone as I am with Squarespace, especially after hearing how they've faced the storm and its aftermath. Guys, my money is yours to lose. No one will lure me away.

This is not a sponsored post, just to clarify. I am waaaaaaay too small to attract sponsors. Squarespace is just that good to me, and I want to pass on the love.

Go to Squarespace for your hosting needs, or I will never stop punching you.

Rise, My Creation, Your Master Commands

You've probably figured out that tools are important to me. I spend a lot of time thinking about them, and I like to write about them too.

Problem is that most of the tools I rely on every day are, predictably enough, software, and there's already a big crowd of people who write about software and getting work done. There's Sven and there's Patrick and there's Sparky and there's Eddie and there's Drang and there's Brettsy von Terpington and there's Merlin and there's Merlin and there's Merlin and there's more besides. I don't feel like trying to duplicate their success.

I was ruminating on this the other day when I had made my third failed attempt at a post I still haven't given up on about how I use alerts and notifications to emulsify awesome sauce. I found myself slipping into doing some variation on the sort of thing I read in my RSS feeds every day, and let's face it, if I do that, there's really no point to this place.

That got me wondering what the point of this place is, and I was surprised at how difficult that question was to answer. I thought on that for days, and then a very scary career opportunity presented itself, and the answer tumbled out of my skull.

I was trying to get work done but had just finished one of those conversations that completely derails your brain with scary possibilities, and as a result, I was worse than useless. I was literally experiencing a mild fight-or-flight response thinking about it, swept up in a mix of exhilaration and the sort of terror one feels when confronted with the dead-eyed ghost of a six-year-old Japanese girl.

I had anti-focus. I knew I had to process it before I could get anything done, so I started typing, and eventually, the following came out.

A note before we dig in: Please pardon the grandiosity (and random perspective-shifting). I tend to tinge purple when I'm brain-dumping and I hadn't intended it for public consumption, but I don't think I should edit it too heavily, for honesty's sake.

This is what I wrote:

The thing is that you are meant to do something on this earth. You are meant to change things in some small way. That is why you were given hands and a mind and a heart and legs. You were meant to do things that make people's lives better. You certainly were meant to always be working to make yourself better. This [opportunity] is the devil you don't know, sure. But would you rather be impotent and underused?

This thing in me that wants to live, I want to let it, and I'm not sure of how. I worry about the costs. But I desperately want it to live. Sometimes it seems I can physically feel it burning in my chest, and I don't know if that's real or not, but I damn near don't care because it feels alive.

The job's not going to give me that. No job is, unless it's a very special one. I'm not sure that even necromancing my old dream of being a decently-paid writer would do it for me, not really. Once you're doing what you love, the trick is to keep loving what you're doing. And how many people get paid to write what they want?

That sense of being alive, I've found it in music and art and books and women and movies and funerals and Jennifer and the birth of my children and I'm hungry for more of it. I want to find it in me, in my life.

"Your life is coming to you," I hear that thing say, and I think, it's here. I'm living it. What else is there?

To build something, for starters. To feed and amplify wonder. To make others feel a hunger and longing for that feeling and to be lost in it.

You can write about OmniFocus. You can write about notifications. You can write about clutter and focus and tools and tricks, but it should always be connected to your heart and your fear and your life and your longing for something you're not sure exists. That is your blog. The intersection of tools and dreams, usefulness and impracticality, fear and longing and love and sex and giving and meaning and failure. A glorious Kurt Vonnegut butthole-shaped crossroads of life.

That is The Tool Shed. Looking for a way to build dreams and change out of the things of this earth. Talking about the stuff we all know but don't say. Finding a way to help that thing live. Not a whole lot of blogging about that.

Now look at notifications and OmniFocus and tools and your job in THAT light, fucker. Where are the angels and goblins in your contexts?

Woof. Is that Bill Shakespeare? I don't have my glasses on.

But I hope the gist is clear: that thing at the center of me lies mostly beyond my comprehension, but I'm pretty sure it is at least partly a call to do work. Not necessarily my job, not even necessarily an avocation like this place, but something that matters, something that changes things in some small way. I can't quite shake that loose.

I'm only now starting to get comfortable with the idea that all life is searching, that when you feel like you've arrived, it's pretty much all over. So if this site really does last and is to be anything, it is to be a chronicle of that searching, with a keen eye on keeping it bullshit-free.

I'm encouraged by the surprising level of reaction I've gotten from people who have read this site and the new friends I've made because of it, but the real reason I know this place is on the right track is that every time I write something like this, I'm choking down panic. That means it's worthwhile, because it means I'm selling my heart.

Now I think I'll call my shot: Spinning the Wheel of Topics, the next post will be about trying to spend more time acting and less time reacting.

Blerfy Blumfy Blorgleberries

This is half test post, half blog-related heads=up:

RSS appears to have gone all hoppitamoppita for the site, which I have learned from alert reader Matthew Petty. Links in posts don't appear to work from Google Reader, and it doesn't even look like the most recent posts are loading in the feed, as far as I can tell.

Anyway, I've filed a ticket and am looking into it. The Squarespace guys are responsive and I'm sure we'll get it worked out soon.

Meantime, go look at Matt's blog instead, or maybe see if the Internet has any naked pictures of famous people. I bet it does.

Hi Again

It appears we are go for launch. Only weirdness I'm seeing in RSS is that everything loaded in the feed again, which, oh well.

New stylesheet, more minimal-y. This is because, as the Taoists tell us, the most important part of the blog is the part where there is no blog. I also confirmed that it doesn't look like fresh shaved monkey taint on a phone.

Minor bug: the tag links aren't working, which I am told is a known problem that they're working on and should have fixed soon.

My many thanks to Squarespace, host of this site and company of super-badasses. If you need web hosting, give them a peek.

This Blog, Impending Upheaval, and You

Heads-up to you RSS nerds:

This blog's about to be upgraded to Squarespace 6 from version 5, which is a pretty big move. Version 6 is a ground-up rewrite, which means moving over makes some stuff go whoopity-woo. I believe this includes effing with the RSS, so if you're a subscriber, you'll probably have to re-up.

It means a new stylesheet too, as this template isn't on the new system. But it's a nice one, and responsive too, so it'll be more readable on phones.

Otherwise, everything should be more or less the same. Toot me or email me if you experience any weirdness.

It may take a bit for the domain name to resolve to the new site. Hope you like it.

Okay, So I Lied

So I said I was changing up the site, moving it to a responsive design that's more phone-readable.

Totally lied to you guys there.

Actually, change of heart. What I had intended was to yoink out the CMS and replace it with Marco Arment's excellent Second Crack static blog engine. Markdown-based, works with Dropbox, lean, mean, etc.

But I spent too damn much time tinkering with it. It would have been awesome once I got it set up and running, but my tolerance for pricking about with my tools dies a little more every day.

Also, the new design was indeed responsive, which I'm proud of, because I'm not a web designer. However, it was also complete ass, because I'm not a web designer. I was never going to be happy with it.

So instead I ditched my old host for Squarespace. Easier, prettier, good templates (not responsive until they let me into the new version beta PLEASE JESUS), and fewer headaches.

And here I be, happy as a clam. If anything looks weird, ding me on the Twitter or drop me a line.

Heads Up

Just a quick heads up for the three of you who actually follow me:

I’m going to be moving this blog over from the CMS it’s currently on to a static blog engine pretty soon. That way there’s no database to hack, very little maintenance, and when I inevitably make the front page of Reddit, they won’t crash the site.

Because word’s gonna get around, man. Word’s gonna get around.

I only bring it up in case you have me in your RSS feeds. There’s a non-trivial chance (which is to say pretty much guaranteed certainty) that this site’s feed is going to go all eeybita eeybita and smoke will pour out of your computer and then Kelly LeBrock will show up in panties and a cropped t-shirt and wreck your house. Or, even worse, you may have to re-subscribe.

So, sorry in advance, is what I’m saying. Because setting up stuff like this pretty much never goes smoothly.

With the new site will come an even simpler stylesheet (begone, sidebar) that’s waaaaaay more mobile-friendly. No more zoom-a-zoom-zoom in your boom boom.

Basically I have to do some IE testing, then some swearing, then some fixes and more testing, then it’ll be up and running. I’m hoping by the end of next week, but who knows.