Friday, March 19, 2010

Some General Observations

The title of this post is taken from an old Cult of the Dead Cow textfile (content NSFW) that was just about the most entertaining slice-of-life I had ever read up to that point.  It's funny how some of the most out-of-the-way things can influence the way a person thinks and lives, if they arrive right at an impressionable time.  Most of what The Nightstalker observed, especially about "adult situations," was largely inapplicable to me as a socially inept 17-year-old nerd, but one item stood out:
One of the benefits of living in this backwater town is that both the supermarket and the beer 'n' wine store stash their empty milk crates outside where they are easy to get to. Needless to say, I do not lack for bookshelves and storage modules these days.
I don't remember ever consciously taking this as a lesson, but I observe that I currently possess two milk crates that have stayed with me through close to two decades of residential moves, and I could not confidently answer for the origin of either crate if I were asked.  It is possible I came by them legitimately, but I doubt it.  If I had to hazard a guess, I would suspect that I imitated The Nightstalker in a misguided attempt at appearing "cool" or "hardcore," and stole them from some place or another, sometime back in that 1991-1993 time period that was the moral nadir of my life.  I would not countenance such pilferage today, because it conflicts rather violently with my belief that an individual's right to property, like the rights to life and liberty, should be inviolable.  Meanwhile, the crates are real, and there they sit.  I committed a wrong, and there are no excuses.  Amends for my actions are due and payable.  I hope I may yet figure out to whom.

Twice in recent days, I have had "engineering disputes" with friends that fell distinctly to the unpleasant side of even.  Neither of them was related, nor were their subject matter, but each left me with a sour aftertaste.  In each case, there was behavior by the other party that I was not comfortable letting slide.  Instead, I called the other party to account, and the dust-ups worsened.  I don't think I was necessarily wrong to hold my ground.  One of the lessons I have learned the hard way in life is that a person has to hold to principles, even if the consequences are unpleasant.  Failure to do so just sets things up to get worse later.  Still, principles might serve me well, but you sure can't have fun hanging out with them.

I have repurposed this blog away from political issues, so I will not dissert on the health care bill and its impending "passage."  I think various parties linked in my blogroll are saying what needs to be said.  It will not be enough.

Recent research for one of my publications brought me to learn of a practice called "salami slicing," a consequence of the emergence of the concept of the Least Publishable Unit.  Though my writing has been commercial, rather than scholarly, I immediately grokked the concept and its associated practice.  An ebook scheme I implemented to distribute content under one of my pen names worked passably well at first, but in the end I found that the market prefers, at least in literary publishing, cohesive and wholly-contained content.  The arrival of ebooks on the publishing scene, especially with the attractive array of gadgetry available for their portable consumption (from iPad to Kindle to smartphones) suggests a vast emergence of Least Publishable Units as the mainstay of digital inventory, but my skepticism is growing.  I tend to believe digital publishing is diverging such that anything not substantial enough to publish as a "thick" standalone media module (novel, feature film, etc) is likely to show up as web content monetized through advertising.  I see the anthology as a potential casualty of all this, and there are positive and negative implications for a writer like me who already creates short stories and flash fiction.

Stephanie and I face upcoming pay cuts as state employees, along with enforced furloughs that may or may not occur on fortuitous dates.  We continue to struggle to solve "the child care cost situation," a financial bind that has defined our year 2010 so far and will continue to press upon us for at least another month or two before potential solutions can be put into play.  Down the road, there are benefits we are likely to enjoy from having had two daughters in a period of less than two years, but the costs of having done so are quite front-loaded.  If I were in my late twenties now, I think Steph and I would have taken steps to slow down the growth of the family Bahr.  As it is, though, I am about to be 36.  I'm starting to be a grumpy old man like the review narrator at RedLetterMedia.  Evey is going to graduate high school when I am 54 years old.  What good is having an empty nest if you're too old and decrepit to do anything about it?  Steph and I are not making (or at least publically discussing) any decisions for sure, but the possibility does exist that the family is now complete, and/or that there will only be perhaps one more addition to it before I consider certain medical options.  The realities of time and money are like nature: to be commanded, they must first be obeyed.

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