One Small Step

08 April 2007 · 8 comments

Max (aka Meatball) has a bad habit. He likes to lay on the stairs, stretched long so that he takes up an entire step. This might not be such a big deal except:

  • He is grey and the stairway is often dark.
  • He doesn’t move when a human steps on him.

As you can imagine, this presents some difficulties.


It’s official: I’m cutting back to just three blogs. I’m not sure that I shared the plan Kris and I came up with last week, but here it is for the curious:

  1. Cut back to just three blogs right now: foldedspace, Get Rich Slowly, and Animal Intelligence. GRS is most important, as it is now producing almost as much income as I make from Custom Box. I’m not cutting AI because I love it, and because it takes very little time.
  2. I’ll continue to write about comics and vintage pop from time-to-time, but I’ll post about them here instead.
  3. Next year, on my 39th birthday, I plan to reduce to part-time at Custom Box.
  4. At that time, I’ll start another site since, in theory, I’ll have the time to do so.
  5. On my 40th birthday, I’ll quit Custom Box completely.

These plans are tentative. Any number of things might change them. I might decide it’s foolish to quit. My web income might dry up. I might move to Australia. Who knows? But for now, this is the agenda.


Friday was gorgeous, just at the upper-end of my heat tolerance: sunny and 24 degrees centigrade (that’s 75 Fahrenheit for those of you who live in Oregon City). I met Matt for lunch, and then we headed to the tulip fields to take photos. Matt moved from California to Oregon a couple years ago. He’s a long-time professional blogger, and is full of great advice. Plus he likes photography, bike-riding, computers, etc. I’m pleased to have made his acquaintance.

Taking photos of tulips in the midday sun is an exercise in futility. The colors don’t photograph well under the best conditions; they’re a nightmare in the glare of the sun. The colors are so bright that they get “blown out”. Still, here are a few shots from the trip.


Two examples of “blown out” colors.


I love old oak trees. They’re beautiful.


The tulip farm was very crowded. (I saw Karen Kropf.)

In the afternoon, Kris and I were going to visit the rhododendron garden, but we opted to do yard work instead. We made a trip to the hardware store to load up on mulch. Later, she worked in her flower beds while I popped dandelions and then mowed the lawn. Together we tied the blackberry and raspberry canes in bunches, which makes for a much neater presentation. My grapes look awesome. I love all the buds on the vines.

Because it was so beautiful, and because the weather is getting warmer, Kris opened the French doors in the bedroom and latched them down. In theory, they’ll stay open now until October. I say “in theory” because at 2am Saturday morning the rains set in. It rained for eight hours. It’s a wonderful, comforting sound (exactly like the “Hawaiian rain shower” I listen to on my iPod sometimes in order to get to sleep).

On Saturday we got a very early start, running all sorts of errands by noon. We stopped by to see Andrew and Courtney before 9am! Kris and Courtney discussed gardening while Andrew showed me his new Super Deluxe-o-Matic 12″ compound miter saw. I’m not much of a tool guy, but even I had to drool over that machine. (I’m drooling just remembering it.)

It’s been a great weekend so far. Now, early on Sunday morning, the sun is back, and I think we’re going to be able to finish our yard work while keeping dry. I’ll spend most of my day, of course, writing weblog entries for the coming week. It’s been a long time since I was ahead on my writing, but I sense that I can get there today.

1 Bill April 8, 2007 at 11:53

Taking photos of tulips in the midday sun is an exercise in futility.

I forget — are you shooting digital? If so, remember that your autoexposure is always aiming for the middle ground, but you should be shooting for the highlights (see here for a good explanation). So either use manual and stop down (getting used to the way your display relates to the final picture is a good idea), or adjust the white balance. There’s also always this trick.

2 Lee April 8, 2007 at 15:48

I’m happy that you are transitioning to a Professional writer, but you know that the chicken fans are going to be really unhappy if you leave custom box.

However, working at home will probably leave you more opportunities to post more about the cats. :D

3 Ivana April 8, 2007 at 17:16

Beautiful photos of flowers.

4 Mom April 8, 2007 at 17:17

Could you not put another light on your stairway? Or make it a habit to use a flashlight when going up and down the stairs when it’s dark? I would hate to think of Max (Meatball) getting hurt, or one of you, as that’s conceivable, too.

Also, I guess you haven’t let people know that Chicken seems to have disappeared. She hasn’t been seen for two or three weeks now. I have the feeling she made a meal for some local nocturnal predator. I really miss her! Princess was around today, though.

5 John April 8, 2007 at 19:48

These plans are tentative. Any number of things might change them.

A tentative plan is better than no plan at all. I hope that you continue to enjoy writing when it becomes a “job”.

In the past, I’ve consciously turned away from paths that led to professional musicianship because I didn’t want what I loved to be turned into how I made my living. My reasoning was that I used music to blow off the steam from work; if music was work, what would I do then?

You have enough hobbies, though – you’re probably safe!

6 mrs darling April 9, 2007 at 21:10

Thanks for remembering those in Oregon City. You are so thoughtful. And congrats in your success as a big time blogger. I’ll never make it big like that; least not until the kids are gone from home. But by then I’ll be 60 years old and I probably wont even care. But for now, I’m slightly envious.

7 Joel April 10, 2007 at 12:28

So… how are the benefits in free-lance writing? Are there any art grants you can apply for (people writing novels/poetry can get ’em, why not you)? I’m a little nervous about your giving up your steady job.

8 Amy Jo April 13, 2007 at 07:38

Freelancing is hard and good, but I do it the more “traditional” way–always seeking new clients, new projects, etc. It isn’t self-driven like your blogs are. Sometimes there is no work (my longest stretch has been about 2 months without a “big” project) and other times there is so much work that the hours consume your entire life. I have a lot of flexibility as to when and where I work, but the instability flames my anxiety.

I suspected you were thinking about transitioning, so I’m not surprised that you’ve put together a working plan. I wish you the best with it–change can be a good thing!

p.s. I also like old oak trees–that is why I have one permanently inked on my body (see today’s blog entry).

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