Sunday, September 6, 2009

By gosh, I'm a writer!

I regret that I have not posted a single update to this site in more than a month. My life is getting back to normal. I am pretty much completely over my mental health crisis. Working at the Canyon View branch has proved much slower paced and less stressful. AND, I am more than making up for the 5 hours of Sunday overtime I no longer have to work each week on free-lance writing jobs.

I posted a small classified ad on a web site and soon after heard from a gentleman in Leicester UK who is himself a free-lance writer who outsourced about ten travel articles to me. I found the work of researching and writing these pieces very easy to do. And while I only earned a penny per word on these assignments, the extra $50 was a big help. A much greater help was my client's suggestion that I look into a web site ( And boy I'm glad I did. While many of the jobs on that site are indeed for software coders and other IT professionals there are a huge number of writing and website marketing jobs available. I sent out a couple of dozen queries and then picked up a $45 job which consisted of writing one travel article (about roller coasters believe it or not) and analyzing the site's social networking efforts and making a report with recommendations on how best to market the site through social networking.

The client seemed very pleased with my work and had tentatively agreed to hire me to work 5 hours a week (@ $15/hour) on the web site. Then two days later he sent me a message telling me that he has decided to suspend publication of his travel site but will "definitely" use me again for the two new sites he is launching. I am not holding my breath for that. BUT. Just yesterday I won a $50 job to rewrite a three page marketing white paper for a software company in Israel. Ron and I both worked on it for a bit less than an hour total between both of us. The client was very pleased with my work and I am now in discussions with him on a possible $200 project to re-write two pages of his web site.

In the old days it was so expensive to try to break into free lance writing because the only way to break end was to spend a lot of money of paper, typewriter ribbons and postage to send work off on spec to editors who most likely would only reply three months later with a thanks but no thanks postcard. By contrast I currently have 15 active bids on the RAC site and I have a feeling that a company that produces study guides for the SAT college admissions test is going to hire me for a $500 project to write 100 practice test questions for the Reading and Writing portions of the exam.

So I have been very busy with getting bids out there and corresponding via e-mail with editors and other people who need good writing done and I think it is realistic to hope that in the coming months. I have as always been reading books but have not had the time or energy to post reviews on the books blog. I am also having a little technical glitch in that I no longer seem to be able to upload pictures into my blog posts. Ron and I believe the reason for that problem is that our newish Compaq lappy remains out of service (Ron found a replacement power cord online and ordered it and we hope it will be here by Thursday) so I am struggling along on the 10 year old Toshiba lappy. Like a Timex watch this baby has taken any number of lickings and kept on ticking. (I have firmly decided the next lappy we buy will be another Toshiba; I had been reasonably pleased with the two Compaq desktops I've owned but a less than a year old lappy that goes out from a two foot drop is garbage, in my not so humble opinion.)

The other issue with updating the books blog is that I am overdue with my hosting fee and I have not wanted to IM my tech guru for help until I pay his bill, which will have to wait until around the 20th of the month when my next Rentacoder payment comes in. (Your earnings aggregate and are paid semi-monthly.) So things in the Libdrone household are back to about as normal as we ever get and I believe I will change the name of this blog back to Libdrone's Journal or some such.

So how has the past month been for you?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday turned out to be

a kind of "lost day". Ron and I both got Extremely agitated Friday night and neither of us was able to sleep much. Ron spoke to "Roberta" on the phone and let her know I was Not coming in to work 'one last shift at Fakewood'. It really worries me that now they are sending me to what sounds like it is going to be Another stressful library and I begin to fear I am going to just totally lose control or end up having to retire on disability. And the main problem with that last bit is that since I have not earned much money in the last 10 quarters my disability income would not be even what I have been making at the library. What I am Hoping to do is to sign up for good short term and long term disability insurance at this year's open enrollment and then plan on going out on diability Next year when the coverage is in effect and would hopefully pay me additional disability income as well as my low social security benefit.

But Ron told me that he read my hip x-rays right along with the orthopod last week and that the x-rays clearly show Very Severe arthritis. He said when I showed the doctor how I had to get down on the floor to shelve on the bottom shelves, the man was "Shocked and Amazed" that I was able to move so well with almost NO cartilage in either hip joint. I feel sure that I could get disability for both my hips and my mental illnesses, but it would not bring in enough for us to be able to pay our bills. and honestly we are struggling and are not Really able to pay our bills as it is now. So, Ron and I have agreed that I will try very hard to begin developing an income as a free lance writer so that by the time I just physically Can't do the library job anymore we will have a real and sustainable income to live on.

I have wanted to be a free lance writer pretty much all of my life and I have to say that I feel a real thrill about having sold my writing last week (even though it was only $25) in that now I really Am a freelancer. And I am learning how to bid for jobs and making the contacts I will need in this career. I am scared, but hopeful. Staci is back in town doing more work over at Kathi's. I have been really happy to see her a few times and hope to get to spend some time with her while she is here this trip. Anyone know of any writing gigs? If you do, please give me a holler.

lots of news from Friday

worked a 7 hour shift at a small library branch, let's call it "tiny town right next to the state's mental hospital--Library. I absolutely love working there. When I arrived there was only a small number of books on a to-be-shelved cart. started at 10a then had everything in the book drop checked in by 1o:30. By the time we opened the library at 11am I had shelved all of the returns. No page work left to do the BA printed an items pending list and I went around the library gathering materials that patron's have requested a hold on. (the IP list at this branch came to just a tad over two pages. at Fakewood we often have 15 or 2o pages of IP requests to pull and only the BA's get to pull them. Checked in the IP I had gathered, printing out hold slips for books that were to be picked up at tiny town lib and correctly flagging and shipping books that need to be at other branches. all and all an easy day.

Until three pm when the tiny town supv told me that Polly the HR lady had sent an e-mail and I needed to read it and reply immediately. Rather than tiny town lib, where I REALLY wanted to be assigned to, I have instead been assigned to the Canyon Peak library. Much of the e-mail was devoted to telling me that Canyon Peak is implementing new work room procedures this week and the staff is Upbeat about trying the new methods. The NEW methods seem to me Very Much like an alternate work room system that we tried for about a month at Fakewood awhile back. Most of the staff became quite frustrated with the new system which was actually less efficient than the tried and true methods we have used for Years and pretty much Everyone was happy when the Managing Librarian declared the experiment a failure and we went back to tried and true. I have an appointment to meet with Holly Tuesday afternoon before my shift at Canyon Park. I am very concerned that her "best solution" for addressing my problem of two much stress is to move me to a branch that sounds like it is pretty stressful these days.

No clue how all will end up but it is a relief to know that I will not have to continue working at Fakewood and I don't consider my transfer to Canyon Peak to be the likely last word.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


was an okay day. I ended up staying up way, Way, WAY too late bidding on freelance writing jobs at a site called rentacoder. the guy that is buying my articles (sent the last one off today but I have a feeling he's going to want a rewrite) told me that rentacoder is where he got his freelance career started. (and he is now to the point of outsourcing some of the jobs he is able to get). It is hard to tell what kind of going rates will actually prevail. Someone in Austin Texas who basically wanted 10 articles and a biography for a new blog. A guy in Mexico bid 100, I bid 150. The job went to someone in India who agreed to do the whole project (at least three hours work) for 4 dollars. sigh

since I was up so late I slept til noon. and didn't do too much today. I did get a call from the HR lady who told me that I will work at a small library tomorrow but will have to work at Fakewood on Saturday. The work week Begins on Sunday each week and from the last voicemail we received (after a call where we spoke briefly) it sounds like they will be offering me a choice of two possible transfer positions and it will be effective next week, staring on Sunday. So off to bed to get my sleep so I can be ready to work at 10:30 tomorrow morning, at a very pleasant little branch that is not a bad drive from here. 3 or 4 miles at most

more later

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

how did it get to be Wednesday already?

Well I worked my Monday shift back at Fakewood and managed to keep my stress down to a three xanax level. That Roberta was not scheduled to work this Monday was a big help. Tuesday I had an appointment with an orthopedist. He took one look at my x-rays and expressed surprise that I was trying to go back to work, since the x-ray indicated to him my arthritis was Really bad and he would have thought I was there to get paperwork to retire on disability. I went more or less directly from the orthopedist to the human resources department. Honestly, I almost feel a little sorry for Polly. The orthopod stated I needed accommodation in having at least three hours of "sedentary work" per shift. And Polly seemed truly distresses at this additional requirement thrown into my list of disabilities requiring accommodation.

I believe that Polly IS really listening to me, trying to understand what I need and trying to arrange for a transfer. I do agree that this is a very complicated ADA case and I am giving her time to try t0 work it out. But I did feel the need at our last meeting to point out to her that if I don't feel she is proceeding in good faith and as much speed as possible I might feel compelled to bring this matter to the attention of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. I also tried as subtly as possible to point out that if this does become a legal matter, the lib system will almost certainly incur WAY more than my annual wages in attorney's fees, even in the event that the library system were to prevail on some or all of the various legal challenges that might arise if the matter were to become acrimonious rather than collaborative as it stands now. I didn't have the heart to even hint about the bad publicity the lib would surely receive.

We were able to get a wireless adapter hooked up to the old Toshiba so I am online from home. The black box in puter's power cord makes the cord an Expensive replacement item. It looks like we will be able to get it for about $60 at Walmart, however that will have to wait until we can afford to spend 6o bucks. A little it of good news on the income front. I placed a tiny free classified ad offering my services as a writer and editor. A full-time freelancer outsourced 5 450-500 word articles to me. I have submitted and he has accepted four of them already. Once he accepts the fifth he will Paypal me $25 for all five pieces. It is a far cry from the 10 cents a word I had hoped to ask for, but these articles literally can be researched and written in about 15 minutes. After the first one, where he did ask for a rewrite and explained more precisely exactly what he wants, every article I have submitted has been approved with no requests for rewrites or revisions. Twenty dollars an hour sounds good to me at this point. And the gentleman who is purchasing my articles has also given me some tips on how to build up my own freelance writing business. After all these years of insisting I was a real writer, I have thank the Lord, actually turned pro this week. I am pretty happy about that, even as I dread having to go back to work Friday.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


well I survived my Sunday 5 hour shift at Fakewood it was NOT easy. I did feel nervous a lot of the time but fortunately I did not hyperventilate as I had on Friday. I did keep once again detailed records of Exactly what I accomplished during the 5 hours I was paid for:

12:10 pm. arrived and found the outside book bins are overflowing

12:15--1pm checked in 121 items after emptying one very full book bin onto the desk

1--1:15pm put away checked in materials on workroom holding shelves. filled out two A/V problem slips (cd and dvd containers returned empty of their discs) checked in and put newspapers out for patrons to read and checked in a meeting room key from the book drop

1:15--1:50pm shelved 2 cart shelves Non Fiction plus a handful of paperbacks and magazines

1:50--2:05 Break

2:05--2:20 put into shelving order a three cart shelf cart of large non fiction Art books

2:20--2:55 sheved 3 cart shelves of heavy art books

2:55--3:05 helped outgoing page get her checked in materials cleared from the check in area

3:05--4pm checked in 127 items and had all put away and check in desk cleared at exactly 4pm

4--4:20pm made pick up rounds of assigned areas

4:20--4:55 shelved 3 cart shelves of Non-Fiction DVD's

4:55--5:15 performed closing duties. made sure all patrons exited the building. made sure the meeting room was fully secured. locked the outside door shortly after 5 pm. changed the Open sign to Closed. Made sure all restrooms cleared of patrons. Locked inside door.

I get tired just thinking about having to go back and do it all again tomorrow. Meanwhile, I am enjoying being able to get online and write and send on my old Toshiba lappy. Not sure when I will have the money to replace the power cord on the new Compaq lappy. AND I have picked up a small free lance writing gig. 5 articles, 450--500 words each, $25 cash by paypal. It aint gonna pay my bills but I suppose it is a start. Hope everyone's weekend went well and I will keep you posted.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Back on the chain gang

So keep your chin up boy
Forget the pain
I know you'll make it
If you try again
There's no use in quitting
When the world is waiting for you

Supertramp--Gone Hollywood
on the album Breakfast In America

Went back to work at Fakewood Library. Didn't want to but there was no choice. Thursday at our meeting around 11am Polly told me that she will transfer me but first has to decide where would be the best place to transfer me to. Then according to the union contract they will have to give the employee they are swapping me with 14 calendar days notice. Polly agreed with me that the library system has been swapping people from one branch to another, not as a "transfer" but just to cover one particular shift. She said that she would make some calls and try to arrange some temporary transfers for me. However she called back yesterday afternoon to tell me that she had not been able to arrange anything and I had to either work at Fakewood Library or not get paid.

It wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. While my supervisor, Roberta, seems utterly clueless and steadfastly argued to me that she made NO mistakes whatsoever in her handling of this, I was mostly able to avoid any but the most banal contact with her at work yesterday and my 7.5 hour shift went okay. I am however being quite anal about recording Exactly what I do and how much of it I do each hour at work. Yesterday's notes:

10:30--10:50am-- created a new cart stocked with two cart shelves of Mysteries. Shelved the cart.

10:50am--11am-- created a new cart stocked with three cart shelves of Mysteries

11am--11:15 am-- received postal mail delivery. pulled out all newspapers from the mail bin. Checked newspapers in on the newspaper tally sheet. Put all newspapers on the display shelves for patrons to use.

11:115am--12noon checked in returned library materials. checked in 145 items and had all put away on the holding shelves and the check in desk cleared for the next page by exactly 12 noon.

12noon--12:15 pm Break, as per union contract and branch rules

12:15--12:45pm-- shelved cart with three shelf carts of Mysteries as well as about 1 dozen paperbacks and 1 dozen magazines

12:45pm--1:00pm--shelved 1 cart shelf of Non-Fiction

1pm--1:15pm-- located a particular magazine per managing librarian's request. This required going down to the (non-public) basement old magazine stacks and then out to the public magazine racks where the requested issue actually was located.

checked in returned library materials. checked in 166 items and had all put away on the holding shelves and the check in desk cleared for the next page by exactly 2pm

2--2:30pm-- unpaid lunch break per contract and rules

2:30--3pm--shelved 1.5 cart shelves on Non-Fiction

3--4pm-- checked in 147 items of returned library materials. had all put away and desk cleared for next page.

4--4:15 pm-- Break, as per contract and rules

4:15--4:30 pm-- did clean up and pickups in children's and reference section per daily page schedule

4:30--5pm-- shelved 3 cart shelves Fiction.

5--6pm--- coordinated with other page on duty. performed evening pick up rounds and other closing hour tasks as per regular schedule and arrangements

My stress level was dangerously high at the beginning of the day. (I was literally hyper-ventilating non-stop when shelving in Mysteries at the start of my shift). I did take a total of 3 xanax to get through the day yesterday and also took my afternoon dose of the new med at lunch. Today I am enjoying being off and not having to go back in to work until tomorrow. Also am counting the days until I get transferred to small branch where I hope and pray I will get along well with the supervisor and my co-workers in the new location.

More later.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

anxiously awaiting their reply

Yawn! I am a bit sleepy today. Last night for the first time since starting the seroquel I had trouble sleeping. I am pretty sure that this was due to anxiety about our 8am appointment with my shrink and our talk therapist. The appointment went well I believe and I was advised that the library's paper work will be faxed to HR by this afternoon. I have composed an email to the head of human resources advising her of this, clearly re-stating what my disabilities are and what accomodations I am requesting and letting her know also that I look forward to returning to work as soon as accomodations can be made.

News on the puter problems front. Further investigation by our resident tinkerer leads us to believe that the part that actually broke on the new lappy was the connector in the power CORD rather than the power connection in the lappy itself. We are hoping on Thursday when I get paid again that we will have enough money to replace this item and to buy a wireless adapter so that the old Toshiba lappy can get online as well. Meanwhile I will be saving my draft of this post and the email to HR on out thumb drive and going over to the library to actually send and post.

I feel anxiety about it, but nonetheless I am very much looking forward to returning to work ASAP and think that getting back into the regular routine of going to work four days a week will be the final block to put my anxiety back in the drawer for now. I am scared, but also hopeful. I will report here as soon as I hear something from HR.

Monday, August 3, 2009

monday, monday

Today's theme seems to be computer problems. I think I've previously mentioned that I knocked our newest lappy (Compaq, less than a year old) off of a foot stool. It fell about two feet to the floor and the drop seemed to damage the electrical connector (the thingy that you plug the power cord from the wall via the black box into). (impressed my technical vocab?) At first we were able to just jiggle the connectoid a bit to get it to draw power. After awhile that stopped working and our roommate (who is a VERY highly skilled "tinkerer" rigged up a rather Rube Goldberg arrangement with string and ink pens that provided tension to hold the plug in. That worked ok for a few days but we still had to every now and then jiggle the plug to get the current running again. Now that seems to have stopped working and our tinkerer is trying to jerry rig it again but in my heart I fear we are reaching the limits of what we can fix with string. Tink did go online and found a detailed diagram of how to take the top off of the lappy to access the broken part and if we can FIND the right part to buy he believes he may be able to install it and bring that lappy back into regular service.

Meanwhile, I decided to try hooking up my very old Toshiba lappy. After nearly ten years of hard service we had retired this machine because the hinges were broken and it was impossibe to make the screen stand up open so as to be able to use it. So I hooked it up to the flat screen monitor from my late hubby's old desktop and switched the screen to display and like a trooper the old lappy is allowing me to type this post. The problem is this old machine does not have a built in wireless connector and the one I used to use with it broke and I don't even have the $20 to replace it at this point. So I will have to when I am finished save the .txt document to our USB thumb drive and take that to the library to use a connected computer to upload this post. (Sighs. It's always something, isn't it?)

As i type this I am gazing at a framed picture that sits on this desk. It shows me and my late hubby Joel posing with Mickey Mouse. The gold embossed emblem at the lower right indicates that this picture was taken in Fall 1999 at Disneyland. I close my eyes and remember all of the wonderful trips Joel and I used to take--on weekends and vacations when he worked at London For and I worked at Earthlink and the more or less full time travel we were able to do for about two full years after I got laid off and we had my severance pay, money I inherited from my father and a large insurance settlement we received after a car accident. It was such a happy and carefree time and I felt then as though I had earned the right to enjoy a bit of luxury and was very grateful for the opportunity to travel and see many parts of the US that I had not seen before. I really my Joel and pray he is at peace in heaven with his parents and friends now.

Tomorrow we have to get up early and go to our appointment with my shrink and our talk therapist at 8am. After that I will know when the lib HR people will be receiving the reply to the questions they sent. According to John, our talk therapist, he and Dr. Park and NOT lib HR will decide what accomodations are appropriate for me. This jibes with my reading of the ADA so I am hoping I will be able to go back to work by the end of this week or the beginning of next week. I am also hoping that if HR does not send me back to work by Thursday that they will extend my paid administrative leave until such time as they do send me back to work. Just one more thing to worry about. I beieve that I have largely calmed down from my huge stress out but the uncertainty about my job continues to be a huge stress. I so hope that tomorrow will prove to be a better day.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


It is hot today but I feel so lucky to be at home and relaxing rather than at work, where I have only very rarely not worked on a Sunday since beginning my current position in July 2007. We are only open for four hours each Sunday afternoon but my Sunday shift is often the busiest, most demnanding and most stressful five hours in my schedule. I have also continued working every Sunday longer than anyone else at our branch. There have been three different BA's (err Senior Branch Assistants) who have been the every Sunday opener and closer these two+ years. I definitely believe that if I am able to transfer to a smaller branch that is not open on Sundays that would do a lot to decrease my overall stress level. (As would somehow coming up with money to replace our oldest currently working puter-- a six or seven year old Toshiba lap top with broken hinges. Basically I have the old boy hooked up to an old but still working fine flat screen monitor. It would also help if I had (And had room for) a separate keyboard. After all those years of hard travel, this old keyboard is not as well, reliable as it once was and it is just very different from our newer lappy's keyboard, making it considerably harder for me to type. The fact that my computer desk is also a storage facility for everything from kitchen utensils to photographs to Ron's used insulin syringes in empty plastic Diet Pepsi bottles and various other emphemera as well as our large collection of plastic shopping bags (which we hold onto in order to re-use; we do seperate out our recyclables into plastic bins-- which are also crowding me in a bit in this corner of our kitchen. We seperate out aluminum cans from everything else because a local recycing company pays us 50 cents per pound and a several month accumulation can be a financial lifesaver if we are dead broke two days before payday.)

I mentioned in an earlierpost that my current mental health crisis has been very hard on my spouse, Ron. In our ealiest years together, I was mostly able to avoid stress and keep myself on an even keel without most of my meds since I did not have health insurance from Jan 2004 when I was laid off from the outsource customer service center (wages half my earthlink salary, very similar work and I kept it cuz like the library it provided great health insurance at no charge) until I got hired on at PCLS in July 2007. At that time Ron's cyclthymia and other mental health problems had also been untreated for many years and he was a pretty bitter "rage-a-holic". And part of why I loved him so much is that I could see so much of myself in Ron's frequent and often incredibly vehement outbursts of extreme anger. Folks, I've been there. When I met Joel incidents as minor as someody cutting me off in traffic could set me off on what I can only describe as an insane murderous rage. I consider myself incredily fortunate that I never had a horrible accident or got arrested or killed during those years. I honestly can't say how Joel saw the person I was beneath all of that mis-directed or perhaps even psychotic rage, let alone just how he taught me to let go of the rage and learn to manage my illnesses by taking my life moment by moment and continually telling myself that while I am completely unable to control what life or the world throws at me I can Always choose how I will recat to it.

I don't by any means claim that I am always able to put this theory or belief into practice but these are two ideas and strategies that have enabled me to go from being a rage-a-holic most of the time to being calm and "laid back" most of the time. And since I got hired at the library (gaining me again free gold standard health insurance at no cost), my new income increased our household budget to the point where Ron was able to afford to sign up for a Medicare suppemental insurance policy so that now both of us to use Group Health and pay only nominal co-payments and receive comprehensive care for all of our various mental and physical heaolth issues. Since that momentous development (both of us getting mental health treatment from psychiatrists and therapists) we have both made much progress in coping with our various issues. And when I went into crisis the Friday when my boss was so hostile and threatening when I called in sick, Ron as been my rock of gibralter doing everything in his power to see to it that I got the treatment that I needed and went very much into NURSE-mode (Ron is a highly experienced RN) to take care of me as I recovered from what my shrink called 'the precepice of a nervous breakdown'.

Today Ron cycled from the manic to the depressive phase of his illness (VERY breifly cyclthymia is a kind of rapidly cycling bi-polar disorder and in ron the manic phases to me seem happy, contented and agreeable and the depressive phases, hostile, angry and bitter rather than the more conventional definitions of 'manic' or 'depressed'). It seemed to me this afternoon during the heat of the day we were having "one of our Old fights". Based on our history together the fact that his mental illness is getting worse at the moment, almost certainly foreshadows mine getting better so that I can handle his symptoms and problems. With all my heart I am terribly sorry that my poor sweetie is suffering today. Even though his cycling fills me with hope that I will soon be getting back to my version of normal.

Friday, July 31, 2009

normal? (or something like that)

"The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless longing for some
Solitary company.

I know that I must do what's right'
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus
Above the Serengede

I seek to cure what's deep inside
Frightened of this Thing that I've become"

From Africa on the album Toto IV by Toto

Today just felt, well, normal. As per the letter advising me of my paid administrative leave instructed I called my branch supervisor prior to my 10:30am shift time. It was a brief and pleasant conversation. A pleasantry or two specific instructions about calling her cell phone tomorrow and Sunday and thanks, have a nice day. It was Much cooler here today and Ron and I went out and ran several errands, which took us on a nice little circuit around the county, about half through more rural areas. I didn't start to feel hot until we came out of Walmart and got back in the car parked in the direct 3--4pm sun. There was lots of traffic of course and that last ride home was unpleasantly hot when we were standing, though it was fine when we were moving and catching a cool breeze. It appears our car's AC needs freon or other servicing since it only blows Hot air. Can't worry about that today.

Thanks to everyone for all of the thoughts and prayers you've sent my way. I am hopeful that all of this will be resolved and I will get back to work within another week or two. Hope so at least. Here's wishing you a cool and pleasant weekend.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

que calor!

It is hot as an oven in my part of the world this week, though today was not quite as bad as yesterday. an e-mail from my talk therapist john advices that he faxed human resources at pcls and told them in No Uncertain Terms that he and Dr. Park agree that they can not possibly feel they can complete the forms pcls submitted until after he and Dr. Park have had the chance to go over them with me at our appointment on Tues 8/4 and assuring me that they would be more than happy to provide me with a medical absence clearance through that date.

a little birdie I am not supposed to know told me that my shrink was 'furious' and told them when they pressed her that it would be 'unprofessional' for her to attempt to answer the questions they were asking her. according to the birdie that hr woman i met with the other day got royally bitch slapped. the birdie suggested i wait until tomorrow to email hr mentioning the email I received and asking if my 'administrative leave' will be continued until they get the medical reports. (I have jumped through every hoop they put out and it is my shrink and Her Great Big Organization telling my human resosurces lady to sit, down, shut up and wait her turn, thankyewverymuch). To say that I enjoyed hearing from that little birdie would be an understatement.

I still believe that with my shrink and my therapist Thoroughly on my side (they tell me we will fill out pcls's forms together at our appointment) that there is every chance that pcsl will give me Exactly what those forms say. ron and i are aware i will have to be on my best behavior if they do, but with john and the shrink apparently going to at the very least get full input from me before completing the forms I feel like the Most likely outcome is that they will transfer me to a Small branch and lower the productivity standards, perhaps after consulting with my orthopod whom i will not be seeing for the first time until the 12th of august I believe and after the earfull they got this morning I doubt they will press me OR group health about the 'timing' of this.

meanwhile with the stress of having to go to work and deal with "Roberta" every day removed from me for the indefinite future, I have been able to sleep a great deal and am overall much calmer than I had been (that last observation from nurse huzbear RN's notes btw)

currently the only thing i am at all stressed about is an email from my mother. and the irony of course is that the e-mail was sent with love (but not in my considered opinion) great understanding. and the request was simple. at the beginning of all of this, before we read my mother's opinion of the matter "from the perspective of a human resources professional" which among many other things my mother has been in this lifetime, that told me (at least as Ron read it and took it) as my mother that what I need to do is put my chin up, dust myself off, and get out there and do those hire standards in that stress house enviornment she has created cuz otherwise they Will find a way to fire you. Did I mention that my illness has been really hard on Ron. I will talk a lot more about that later but since today's installment is primarily directed to my mother (who as far as I know is reading along every day; I wouldn't be half surprised if she's figured out how easy it is to get these post by e-mail as soon as they are published and she may even be reading in real time for all I know)


I don't think you ever really understood or appreciated that my late husband Joel was the strongest advocate on your behalf that I have ever had in my life. I don't believe that you realize the degree to which it is because Joel nagged me that we made the effort to do Heather's every year. or that Joel rather than Alan who whipped out his credit card and made plane reservations when you wanted me to come see you while I was still working at Sprynet/CompuServe/Mindspring/Earthlink. And I do feel that in a very real way you repaid that kindness he showed me many, many times over for being there for me both emotionally and financially the summer he died and I was on unemployment and struggling (despite my high level of overal education) to get a stinking lousy one year accounting certificate so i could work as a book keeper. (a job i know i could Do if only I had a degree......wait a minute....making a mental note. this is the internet. who checks degree. and I don't need to claim that I have one. but if tell the small business owner that I can set him up and get him started in Peachtree or Quickbooks (which he must buy himself) and then I do it, will he care about anything other than that the price was right/????...))

And you did make a reasonably good impression on ron, my second husband. He was willing to go down to the Heathers. But the fact is your beloved neice was Unforgivably rude to a guest in Her Own Home, my very beloved husband. She never ever acknowledged or made any effort to apologize for behavior which according to the set of good manner YOU!!!! raised me with gives Ron every right to 'cut her dead'. As in not acknowlege her invitations or overtures and flatly refuse under any circumstances to appear and impose himself upon her premises again. Ron was never the advocate for you that Joel was, Mom (and if to any degree at all it appeared that I more considerate of you in those days that was his doing as much as mine, mam). Ron will probably get over being pissed with you for what you said in that letter. (It didn't piss me off. It didn't surprise me either. quick question, how much do you know about the ADA revisions congress passed in 2008 and how that has greatly increased the rights of disabled people dealing with large bureaucratic organizations? I're been reading the exact full text law and searching in vain for relevant court opinions. the regs are brand new so there are no new precedents to refer to and it is unclear how courts will address the changes but hr professionals routinely acknowledge that "under the new ADA it is different?)

If you learned nothing new in that paragraph, mom, please accept my sincerest (and I mean this) apologies for talking down to you just not. if any of that last rant was new, i think you need to go back and look at your e-mails to me, particularly your e-mails AFTER the google doc with your HR impressions and try to figure out what made him so mad at you. I am staying out of it. his email is mackaybear AT inbox DOT com and you can make up with him or not as your see fit. In any case, Ron will not be able to provide you with his on the ground RN's eye view. So it up to me to convince you that you have raised a son who is both 1) crazy 2) extremely smart and 3) only marginally employable due to the effects of 1 despite 2). I can only say this, mom. When things started going wrong for me at Sprynet cuz my crazies were out and instead of that brilliant genius who come up with all those amazing e-mails docs and spreadsheets from the privacy of his office or cube i was turning into the guy who can't get a hold of his emotions in order to be a good supervisor. it hurt, but it Was the truth.

how many times after the realization, which i admit came way back when I was working for SPRYNET the company CompuServe created when the bought Spry software. I was hired almost immediately after that merger. I hung on and kept my head up and kept going to work Every god damned day for three more years through two more mergers meeting and making the best impressions I could on two new management teams advised of my crazy genius status by my manager friends who, like me, managed to hang on through all of the mergers and acquisitions. By the time I Finally came to the attention of a professional who saw that I was dead weight since they were no longer make good use of a mad genius (which had Been exactly what the start up ordered and if they hadn't merged I would have remained in mgmt IF not for my mental illness). When they finally let me go it was through a post merger job buy out plan and they paid me about 30,o00 specificallty to leave and never come back, not sue them, and not bad mouth them. Hardest thrity grand I ever earned in my life but it is just part of a lot more money than that that I would have walked away from if I quit in a huff.

mom, I am a UNION employee who read the contract hundreds of times and read the new ADA cover to cover dozens of times when my mind was in better days since i knew these documetns more than anything else would determine my fate if i lost control of my crazies at work. please believe that despite my mental illness I am way more than competent to look to and act in my own best interestes with regards to my employment.

Last question, mom. (stressing that I am not angry with you, I love you to death and will not disappear on you regardless of how you answer) Do you think you owe me any apology for underestimating me in your advice to 'chin up and bear it' speech?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

the hardest parts

In my considered opinion one of the most difficult issues that mentally ill people face is getting everyone from their employers to their families to take their illness and their needs seriously without becoming afraid to have the mentally ill individual around.

I am crazy but I am also by many respects and criteria an excellent employee. Right now I feel as though I am just barely hanging on to my ability to control my emotions and keep on an even keel. The place that I need to keep to so that I can go to work and smile and do my job every day. Where I have earned satisfactory and excellent performance appraisals and been genuinely committed to the library's mission of bringing "information and imagination" to the people of the county we serve. In my heart I know that if i do as my mom advices and "just go back to work and keep your chin up and do the damned job" I will end up cycling uncontrollably between psychotic screaming rages, very tearful desperation and despair an completely calm in control and capable of taking notes and deciding what's going to have to happen next.

I need for the people in my life to understand that I work hard every day of my life dealing with my various mental illnesses. And when I tell you that my stress has reached a critical level, I need for the people around me to appreciate that I often know better than anyone else just what exactly is going on in my head. As I tried to explain to my mom (whom I know loves me despite my illness and honestly wants what is best for me) it is not just that I have major depression Or panic anxiety syndrome Or agoraphobia Or social phobia Or OR OR! I have major despression And panic anxiety disorder And agoraphobia And social phobia andAnd and AND AND AND! They all in their ways feed into and affect each other. Please hear me when I try desperately to tell you that I really am sick and I really do need your help, understanding and accommodation of my disability. But I'm really not at all dangerous to have around and if you make room for me, I have a lot to contribute.

Alan (has been asking serious and specific questions about local mental health facilities cuz it's beginning to seem like they're going to push me til I completely lose it and end up in Western State. I would so rather be allowed to stay home. I don't know what's going to happen and that scares the shit out of me).

Monday, July 27, 2009

just another nervous wreck now

They'll run for cover
When they discover
Everyone's a nervous wreck now

--Supertramp Just Another Nervous Wreck
on the album Breakfast In America

One of the things that helps me most when I am in crisis and spending my days at home trying to hold off my anxiety is music. I've bought a few songs from iTunes and imported a number of CD's I brought home from the lib into my iTunes. And sometimes I really enjoy listening to radio on Pandora, though that is kind of hit and miss in my experiences. Some days that site plays only songs I absolutely love and other days it's like it just doesn't know me.

The doctor warned me that my new anxiety pills would probably make me sleep a lot and boy was she right. Last night I believe I slept 12--14 hours and that was on top of the 15 and a half hour nap the night before. But my sleep had been so disturbed the past two weeks or so as the pressure and stress level continued to build at work. The thing is the rage, panic, crying and babbling that are the symptoms of my 'out breaks' are actually there in me All the time. I've learned over Years of experience dealing with myself that the key to living normally in the world is to continually not let them get started. It's like a semi automatic reflex. I've learned that I can not control what the world will throw in my path but I CAN control how I react to it. And a lot of the times that works.

I used to have horrible rages in traffic and feel extreme and irrational anger towards drivers who did something like cut me off or followed too close or whatever. Now, though I mostly just drive slow in the right lane, never worry about who is passing me and when another driver behaves badly I just say to my passenger or to myself 'what an asshole. did you see what he just did' all the while continuing to drive safely and keep my mind in an "everythings ok, no need to panic" mode. I've been able to apply similar coping strategies to most areas of my life. With my hearing impairment I don't like loud parties or large gatherings but here in cyberspace I am jovial, outgoing and sociable and am genuinely amazed at how many people I've met online who remain good friends and ever ready to lend a helping hand. Honestly, in spite of my multiple handicaps, I know I have truly been blessed in this life by the love and kindness of my family and all of my friends.

Part of me feels guilty because except for it being Too Damn Hot, I am mostly just enjoying my sick leave from my nervous breakdown, though Ron could tell you that if I let myself start thinking about what I need to do next like request some ADA accomodations from PCLS so that I can go back to work and apply for social security which i'm told will allow me to continue working for the lib, where I can earn up to my monthly benefit amount. It will ultimately mean working fewer hours and having a higher net take home pay. My mom and several of my friends are really pushing me to apply for disability. I also have to decide whether I wish to pursue a Worker's Comp my mind the fact that the raised stress levels (which everyone at the library is feeling and which the branch supervisor readily acknowledges) contributed to my breakdown which was directly percipitated by my supervisors really poor handling of telling me about the new "standards".

When I can listen to the music and not think about what I need to do, my nervous breakdown honestly feels like vacation. But I have a lot of decisions to make and have to decide what I am going to ask for and how I'm going to approach it when I go back to work Friday morning.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

notes from the nervous breakdown day 2

If you are uncomfortable with frank talk about mental illness, stay away from this blog while I am having my nervous breakdown and trying to share it with you. All are welcome to read but this is really and truly Very personal. All names have been changed to protect me.

I got to sleep around 11pm Friday night and slept clear through til 2:20 pm Saturday. It was exactly what I had most needed and I woke up feeling store and stiff from being in bed so long but emotionally feeling much Much better. Yesterday I began making plans for dealing with this situation.

I went over to work where my boss' boss, a really nice lady named Karen was the manager on duty and gave to her a copy or my medical excuse form letter as well as the "After Visit Summary" form that details diagnosis, treatment plan, follow up plans, etc. Karen could not possibly have been nicer or more pleasant. She completely agrees with me that the library system has become an impossible stress hole, that the new standards are almost certainly impossible for our 40--50 year old page staff, who were hired not because we can move materials especially fast but because we are literate, eloquent, well read and care deeply both about books and the public library's service mission. She really could not possibly have been any nicer to me, and I am very grateful for this.

Based on advice given to me by two friends who well know what they are talking about on Monday I am going to go to the social security office and apply for SSDI/SSI. Because my last ten quarters have been worked for the library part time for low wages my benefit check each month will be only $480--$575. BUT I can continue to work for the library part time and earn as much as my benefit amount. The net result if I get approved for SSDI and can keep a part time, fewer hours position at the library will be that my monthly take home will Increase while I will work significantly fewer hours.

The only times at work in the past month or two when I have not come home stressed out and drained, were when I substituted at a small branch library. (The library where I work is the largest and busiest in the system) Working at the small branch, even though it was so busy is just a LOT less stressful. So when I return to work on Friday I am going to request an ADA accommodation in the form of a transfer to one of three small libraries where I have worked before, like the supervisors and feel positive I would be happier, even though I will make less money and have a longer commute.

Meanwhile, Ron has agreed to take over the Libdrone blog for a while and has gotten a bunch of books of his choosing from the library and hopes to begin posting next week. Me, I just hope to survive next week and make it through to Friday and get them agree that transferring me is the best alternative for all concerned. Please keep the thoughts and prayers coming. I greatly appreciate them.

I am planning also on my week off to read, re-read and print out a copy of the American With Disabilites Act and bring that with me when I return to work on Friday and request this accommodation. I am hoping that library management will be co-operative and helpful with this and that my transition to disability can go smoothly. I just feel so much relief at not having to be at work getting all stressed out today and am trying to feel hopeful that going on disability may make my day to day life better instead of worse.

notes from the nervous breakdown day 1

If you are uncomfortable with frank talk about mental illness, stay away from this blog while I am having my nervous breakdown and trying to share it with you. All are welcome to read but this is really and truly Very personal. All names have been changed to protect me.

Thursday afternoon I went in to work and by Friday morning the one hour meeting I had with my supervisor, Roberta, had me to the point of what both my psychiatrist and my huzband (who has 20 years of work experience as an RN) both agreed was-- right on the verge of a "nervous breakdown". I am like constantly on the border of hysteria and my mood cycle swings (often Quite rapidly) between talking wildly and in circles and crying in deep despair.

My psychiatrist, Dr. Young gave me a new medicine that got me calmed down and let me get a good, long nights sleep and also wrote a medical excuse that gets me out of work until Fri 7/31. with good pills, good herb I am staying mellow. My illness has been very hard on my poor sweet Ron. I'm in a state where I am constantly on the verge of having a Horrible panic-anxiety attack. I truly hate having them. They are excruciating for Ron to watch and the fact is that I get by in this life by keeping a lid on all of my panic and anxiety. (I have been diagnosed with at least seven different serious and debilitating mental illnesses.)

Since old Ronny Raygun's old theory of "trickle down economics" is finally coming true for me. For the first time. The Library System is funded by property tax. Foreclosures, people not paying and a sudden halt to much new construction and the LS has a half million dollar budget shortfall staring them in the face.
This is my first experience working for government rather than business. Any private company that realized on march 1st they were half a mil short would have sent out pink slips til they were back on budget. That didn't happen. They announced instead that we would be using Very few substitues from now on. Now whenever someone is sick or on vacation or otherwise absent, we pretty much have to just do without.

Would you be surprised to learn that the Branch Library where I work, where I specifically chose to work because it was such an easy, fun and no stress way to earn a little bit of money to get by on. Since the substitute announcement, my library has gone from easy, no stress to a treadmill of ever increasing productivity demands where in front line workder are being told that keeping their job depends on moving materials at a rate that most of us are not capable of physically possibly acheiving. Work under the new standars my boss told me they were implementing my severely arthritic hips were Screaming in pain and my anxiety level was truly Dangerous.

And when I called in sick the following morning, having been completely unable to sleep and literally on the verge of hysteria , actually making the call myself (ron usually handles the phone since my hearing is so bad) she was clearly Ticked off with me for calling and Warned me that I would need a doctor's excuse and that my calling in was starting to become a "pattern". (I didn't realy hear all this; Ron was listening on the speakerphone and explained to me in detail Exactly what she said and her tone and connotations. I has been so focused on making sure she understoond I was absent because I was sick and let her know that I would definitely get a doctor's note.

I spent the day panicking while we first e-mailed (which required going to my friend Kathi's, who cheerfully allowed me to use her excellent broadband desktop) then Ron spent hours on the phone trying to get me in to see Any psychiatrist who had a slot available. my former shrink, whom I liked a lot accepted and who left the Tacoma practice a couple of months after getting a slot in the Seattle office which she says she likes much better. One of Ron's phone calls was to her and she could not have been more helpful. She told Ron exactly who to call and what to say, and then I had a 4pm appt with Dr. Park, who gave me pills and wrote me an absence excuse form that will allow me to stay home from work til Friday 7/31. It was my first time seeing her but I was very impressed and walked out of her office feeling relieved and almost overjoyed.

The saga will continue next time I have time to add another day's notes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

life as a webmaster

continues to be.....interesting. Flash Light Worth Books is a web site that is not really a direct competitor to Libdrone. They provide a LOT of recommended book LISTS. Working at the library, I tend to think of lists as dime a dozen. (At the lib of course we have TONS of completely free lists of recommendations of books for all ages and subject matters, fiction and non-fiction. I'm not especially impressed by lists.)

Well to each his own. Or not as it happens. this FLW books site asks Every visitor to take the "34 second pledge" which as it turns out is "I will make all of my Amazon purchases on FLW's affiliate link in order to support the site". As a competing web site in the same books sphere who also is seeking affiliate sales from my own loyal readers, and will be asking folks who Really like the site and the reviews to buy just one in ten of the BOOK purchases from Amazon through me. I am writing great reviews and producing great content and I am asking my readers to give me one in ten of their Book purchases. And this asshole sees nothing wrong with asking them to PLEDGE that they will give him a commission on EVERYTHING they ever buy to COMPLETE EXCLUSION of every _other_ site on the web that also recommends products in their area, as well as all the many, many , many different product lines and departments Amazon carries.

For making lists like the library gives away for free this guy thinks he deserves a commmission on EVERYTHING you EVER buy from Amazon. Is it just me, or does this strike you as pure greed and sleaze. I belive that diversity is the strength of the book promotion web publishing hobby/business. I also believe that any ONE book web publisher who attempts to get his readers to pledge that they will give All their Amazon business only to him is a HUGE threat to this diversity. It only remains to be seen whether I can persuade my competitor to sit down and talk with me and hear my concerns and come to amiacable agreement we both can live with OR if he will irk me enough that I spend all of year' three's editorial and marketing budget to make him as Unpopular as I possibly can among the book people.

Honestly, I don't want to trash this guy, and I really do hope I can persuade him that we ALL in the book promotion biz need the chance to feed equally at the altar of Amazon. If I can't make him see that, I'll just have to make the publishing and book promotion communities see it my way.

Alan (is waiting to see if the guy responds to my request for an email pow wow or if I will be e-mailing my friends in public relations for advise)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dinosaurs stumbling badly into new media

As the publisher of a book review web site that is now entering it's third year, with it's third major re-themeing and having acheived a level of success, in terms of visitors, page views, ad revenues, Alexa ranking and Google Page Rank, I have become used to corresponding via e-mail with other web entrepreneurs and to working with other web publishers as well as with traditional book publishers and their publicity departments.

Sometimes an unsolicited approach can lead to a very mutually rewarding co-operation. And in my humble opinion, being successful on the web is all about building relationships. Relationships wiith other web publishers, with the source people in the field your web site covers and with your readers and audience. I have made tons of friends in online forums and through e-mail corresponce with strangers who responded to my web site. I am lucky that my spam filters mostly filter out the real junk. But this past week I had an un-solicited e-mail from a company (that apparently has "professional" level funding and PR. The PR agent (let's call her "Karen") wrote to tell me that she had "found my site" and thought that I "might want to share" with my readers the exciting news that HER COMPANY was introducing a new book promotion portal site. And surely I would love to give them some free publicity on my site. This was my reply to "Karen"

Hi Karen,

I checked out your site. I can't quite figure out whether you are very naive on how to approach and make deals with other web publishers or if you assume every site you find out there is a fan site that will be happy to promote your brand new un-ranked web site for free. It appears to me that what your firm is trying is a lot like Library Thing and Shelfari but you are trying to make it pay by having authors and/or their publishers pay for the privilege of being listed in your directory. Who knows, enough authors may take you up on it for you to make it a viable business, but honestly there is a Ton of competition in book promotion web sites and all of those sites (including yours and mine) are trying to reach the same Internet audience. (Do you even know what an Alexa rating is? Or Google Page Rank? Here's a hint, as of today mine are Much better than yours.)

My site is a Book Review site. Occasionally I make things a little bit more personal but mostly it is just all book reviews. I am in the process of opening my own online store to sell the books that I write about. I have never written about Library Thing or Shelfari, though at one time very early on I did use Library Thing widgets to display book covers in the side bar. I will not review your site for the same reason I never reviewed Library Thing or Shelfari. I review books, not websites. The publishers (of books) seem to get the book review web publishing community rather better than you do. They shower us with respect, advanced reading copies and review copies and NEVER ever require that we Post about let alone Recommend any particular title. By contrast you've approached a competing web publisher with an offer or suggestion that I give YOU free publicity. Like I said, I can't figure out if you're simply naive or utterly slimy.

If you would like to discuss advertising rates on or the possiblity or a reciprocal linking agreement, please let me know. You might consider having a third section of your site for book reviewers (in addition to readers and authors) since we are a Huge part of the book promotion scene. I hope this reply will be helpful to you in learning how better to approach established book review web publishers.

After two years of hard work and sweat equity I have steady, solid though not at all spectactular search engine traffic. I have 350 well tagged posts that will continue to draw search engine traffic. I have finished and ready to go a brand new template and some dynamite SEO optimized content about some of the Hottest and most popular books being published today in the can and ready to roll after the launch date. My e-mail address book has nearly a dozen publicists, including the Abolutely Fabulous Miriam Parker at Hachette, who could teach every newbie out there like "Karen" how to build a successful online book campaign a life time's worth of lessons.

My site revenue at this time and if I had to pay hosting fees (which due to the generostiy of one of my cherished friends who prefers to remain anonymous, I do not. Even though libdrone IS professionally hosted by an IT professional with specific expertise in the library and WordPress markets who, out of friendship gives me better hosting and tech support for my sites than the professionally funded "Karen" can buy at any price) my revenues would be barely break even. But unlike Karen I am working on a ten year marketing plan. And I actually took a lifetime of work in the book industry to learn how to deal with publishers and publicists and two years of hard sweat equity to learn about being an internet publisher in the book promotion field.

They tell writers that when you read something in a published book or magazine and you KNOW that you could have written it better, that's when you know you're Really a writer. I can now say that when you get a very naive letter from a newbie in your business who clearly doesn't know anything at all about the field she is entering, even though she has professional backing. Is the day you know that you are a Serious web publisher.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I am making progress

with the site re-design and re-launch. I am about 2/3 through reading Michael Connelly's The Scarecrow, which will be published by Little Brown on 5/26/09, the same day that I will re-launch and my new Amazon book store Libdrone Sells Books at I have been thrilled to have the time away from producing regular blog content to work on the re-design. I am pleased with what I have to go so far, but my goals and methods for the site going forward are becoming clearer and I have been analyzing my traffic and realizing that fully 49% of my visitors are located outside of North America.

I was visiting a friend today. This friend is a good bit younger than I am and is a music DJ and a techie who's been online forever. He was poo-pooh'ing "blogs" for the umpteenth time. somehow he thought blogging was like posting on mesage boards or getting your name on a web site. I took him to Blog Catalog and showed him what _I_ mean by blogs. I showed him that I was the number one non-paid listing for "Books" on BC. I went over and logged into my site and showed him my Firestats in my WP dashboard. and he looked at the 130 uniques per day viewing 550 some odd pageviews and said, hey you got yourself some decent traffic there. I pointed out that all of those visitors (and showed him the hits table, which blew his mind) had come from search engines and the fact that they viewed an average of more than 3.5 pages each indicated they were finding value and digging deeper into the site.

And for the first time since I dropped out of Entrecard when my friend (who never understood why I 'bothered' with 'just doing a blog' --you could be on MySpace, you know?) understood clearly my 10 year business plan of accumulating highly tagged, high quality original content that can appeal to a broad audience and consistently receive search visitors with No marketing expense to bring them in. And soon my Libdrone Sells Books store will be opening and I will once again, as when I first began my career be a direct seller of books. I can't wait to get the site finished and get back into the game and get started on Year 3 of my 10 year plan. Stick around, folks. You ain't seen nothing yet.

Check out my updated punch list if you want to see how the upgrade is coming:

Let publicists know about the break and re-luanch plans-- emailed Julie, Miriam and Tracee on 4/23 (done)

Let advertisers know about break and re-launch plans. msg'd all 8 advertisers on CMF. will take PW widget down during hiatus.

TRL on hiatus 4/29--5/26 4/29--migration post goes up. post is closed to comments. done

1) JD creates mirror--done

On mirror site:

2) change theme to

substitue existing header graphic for theme included graphic in new theme. re-size rather than crop the header image. make sure the barcode scanner's line shows--done

ask JD about changing font color in blog header-- working on editing header image. having trouble finding right font color for header

3) Consolidate all of the About pages under one About Page that has links to About Me And About This Blog, About The Links, About The Bookstore, About Books and Libraries, About My Audience, About, Instructions for all in one About page below. working, largely done

Add widgets and privacy policy page-- this page may go under About or under something else but definitely buried.

Add review copies and submission page-- this can under Something, maybe taking place of suggestions and guest reviews page

4) Change dotCom page title to Blogroll. will become the book store page on it's own blog done

5) Review and Revise Suggestions and Guest Reviews page

6) Add bookstore page using Amazon's a store in Beta, working

7) Experiment and work with widgets and widget placements to get a very well designed an professional looking layout

Add a Welcome page that explains all of the changes

8) check and test EVERYTHING three times

9) Write and schedule May 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th posts about Michael Connelly's The Scarecrow--reading, Barry Eisler's Fault Lines rcvd, Steve Luxemborg's Annies Ghost rcvd, Joel Goldman's The Dead Man rcvd

consider) ??Renew paid Library Thing membership Re integrate Libary Thing Links to all posts less than one year old. Consider using Library Thing widgets to place long strings of book covers on bookstore page. to do that. Include a link to library thing profile in sidebar

May 24th-- JD points the URL to the new site a full day plus before the Resuming post goes live (gives time to work out any kinks and can put up a 'how do you like the new look' post as soon as the new site is up and running properly)

next upgrade (whenever) add non-blog page for V-Bulletin. meanwhile Comment On Book Blogs!


From April 29th to May 26th my blog The Thin Red Line will be going on hiatus. The site will be up (and will continue to get traffic from search visitors, which is my main source of traffic) but I will not be posting any updates during this time. When I relaunch on May 26th, I will have a brand new look and theme and a number of new pages and site features. I am writing to you because you have an advertisement on my site that will be running during this planned hiatus. As I said, the site will be up and will no doubt continue to receive search visitors, so your ad will receive some impressions. If however, you feel that you want to pull the ad during the hiatus, just reply and let me know and I will request that your ad be canceled and your credits refunded. Alternatively, I would be happy to place an ad on your site when I re-launch next month. I wanted to let you know about this a few days in advance, just to keep you in the loop. Thank you for advertising on The Thin Red Line, which will be back for it's third great year starting 5/26.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

plans continue

for the hiatus and site upgrade. My punch list is evolving:

Let publicists know about the break and re-luanch plans-- emailed Julie, Miriam and Tracee on 4/23 (done)

Let advertisers know about break and re-launch plans. msg'd all 8 advertisers on CMF. will take PW widget down during hiatus.

TRL on hiatus 4/29--5/26 4/29--migration post goes up. post is closed to comments.

1) JD creates mirror

On mirror site:

2) change theme to

substitue existing header graphic for theme included graphic in new theme. re-size rather than crop the header image. make sure the barcode scanner's line shows

3) Consolidate all of the About pages under one About Page that has links to About Me And About This Blog, About The Links, About The Bookstore, About Books and Libraries, About My Audience, About,

Add widgets and privacy policy page-- this page may go under About or under something else but definitely buried.

Add review copies and submission page-- this can under Something

4) Change dotCom page title to Blogroll. continue to promote the addy but get rid of the too cutesy dotCOM page name

5) Review and Revise Suggestions and Guest Reviews page

6) Add bookstore page using Amazon's a store AND Powell's bookshelf pages. "Freedom of Choice"

Ask JD about putting up a second WP blog to use for the sales and blogroll pages. gives me a second sidebar to sell ads in. And now that I am signed up for Amazon I CAN do the LibraryThing THING as below, on the store site

7) Experiment and work with widgets and widget placements to get a very well designed an professional looking layout

Add a Welcome page that explains all of the changes

8) check and test EVERYTHING three times

9) Write and schedule May 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th posts about Michael Connelly's The Scarecrow, Barry Eisler's Fault Lines, Steve Luxemborg's Annies Ghost, Joel Goldman's The Dead Man

consider) ??Renew paid Library Thing membership Re integrate Libary Thing Links to all posts less than one year old. Consider using Library Thing widgets to place long strings of book covers on some pages. (but would have to sign up for Amazon to get paid and don't really want to do that. Include a link to library thing profile in sidebar leaning maybe to Yes on this

May 24th-- JD points the URL to the new site a full day plus before the Resuming post goes live

(gives time to work out any kinks and can put up a 'how do you like the new look' post as soon as the new site is up and running properly)

sent to advertisers:


From April 29th to May 26th my blog The Thin Red Line will be going on hiatus. The site

will be up (and will continue to get traffic from search visitors, which is my main source of

traffic) but I will not be posting any updates during this time. When I relaunch on May

26th, I will have a brand new look and theme and a number of new pages and site features. I

am writing to you because you have an advertisement on my site that will be running during this

planned hiatus. As I said, the site will be up and will no doubt continue to receive search

visitors, so your ad will receive some impressions. If however, you feel that you want to

pull the ad during the hiatus, just reply and let me know and I will request that your ad be

canceled and your credits refunded. Alternatively, I would be happy to place an ad on your

site when I re-launch next month. I wanted to let you know about this a few days in advance,

just to keep you in the loop. Thank you for advertising on The Thin Red Line, which will

be back for it's third great year starting 5/26.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

coming changes over on libdrone

In a little more than month from now The Thin Red Line will be Two Years Old and in preparation for that milestone I am going to take a hiatus from publishing from April 29 to May 26th. When my hiatus begins I will have written and published 351 posts, an average of 3.36 or so posts per week. (Under promise, over deliver. That's why I changed my announced post frequency from "almost daily" to thrice weekly. The daily posting target was frankly too much work. And I spend a great deal of time selecting and reading the books that I review (it actually got me in trouble, at least to the degree of a Warning for reading on duty last week; oops) and I definitely want some time to reflect, review, revise and re-launch the site into my third year. This is my tentative plan for the hiatus and relaunch:

TRL on hiatus 4/29--5/26 4/29--migration post goes up. post is closed to comments.

1) JD creates mirror

On mirror site:

2) change theme to

substitue existing header graphic for theme included graphic in new theme. re-size rather than crop the header image. make sure the barcode scanner's line shows

3) Consolidate all of the About pages under one About Page that has links to About Me And About This Blog, About The Links, About The Bookstore, About Books and Libraries, About My Audience, About,

Add widgets and privacy policy page-- this page may go under About or under something else but definitely buried. another buried page??

4) Change dotCom page title to Blogroll. continue to promote the URL but get rid of the too cutesy dotCOM page name

5) Review and Revise Suggestions and Guest Reviews page

6) Add bookstore page using powell's partner bookshelves

7) Experiment and work with widgets and widget placements to get a very well designed and professional looking layout

8) check and test EVERYTHING three times

9) Write and schedule May 26th post about Michael Connelly's The Scarecrow

May 24th-- JD points the URL to the new site a full day plus before the Resuming post goes live.

The plan probably isn't complete in that I also need to plan policies and procedures to deal with advertisers. My post announcing the hiatus that will be up (but Not commentable on) the entire time I am offline is written and assumes an openly celebratory tone and announces a very special book selection for the come back. This is my first experience doing a written plan for a blot or website transition. Have you given your site a major makeover? If you did, please leave a comment and let me know any tips or suggestions you have.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I have removed the Entrecard widget

from this site. The fact that the Only way to not have paid ads appearing here was to manually decline them, one by one, every day, no matter what my ad settings were was the straw that finally broke my long suffering back. This particular blog exists Only as my personal little soap box and I quite honestly don't care if anyone reads here or not. I kept the widget because I have so many friends who are still using Entrecard that I wanted to be able to continue to drop when I visit them, but it appears to me that Entrecard itself no longer welcomes this more limited use of their service so I am finally out, after being one of the ones who Really promoted this service at the beginning and more lately one of the growing chorus of critics.

Like watching a train wreck, where it's so gory but you just Can't look away, I suspect that I will continue to be an Entrecard observer and critic. And for sure, I will do a post celebrating its demise when Graham finally manages to drive all the way off the cliff. See you at the CMFads forum.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mailbox Monday

It's an exciting day over at the books blog. Lyndi at Nice2All gave The Thin Red Line a Rave Review, and I am aglow at the wonderful compliments. Meanwhile, my ad for the dot com page is running right alongside the review (Thank You CMFads) and I am feeling a great deal of satisfaction in Lyndi's advice (don't change a thing). It appears to me that I get about 100--150 regular readers per day and I definitely get feedback that these people like what they see. I am starting to feel like a successful blogger again, more so than at any time since my Entrecard-ending traffic drop.

I am really, Really, REALLY homping that CMFads will grow into what Entrecard _could_ have become, had it been managed by people I know and trust, like Ben, Stan and Turnip. A place where thoughtful and quality bloggers will feel genuinely at home and can gain meaningful notice, as opposed to a system that sadly has become largely a meaningless link exchange, where the most Popular blog , in All of Entrecard, for TWO YEARS IN A ROW (as Turnip recently broke) is a splog, run by the same scraper who maintains 5 blogs (each of which drop the required 300 per day) with all the credits gained used to advertise the "main" site. Monkey Tales? More like horseshit, imho.

I suppose it is disingenuous to keep the EC widget on this personal site, even while deploring what Entrecard has become, but some of my real blog friends still use that site and I Do like being able to leave a card and it seems only fair to have a place where they can leave cards for me. Like most serious bloggers, I am Not eager to choose sides in some kind of power struggle. I just want solutions that Work. And CMFads is delivering that in spades.

Oh, and since this is a Mailbox Monday I will note that this week's mail brough an advanced reading copy of Afraid by Jack Kilborn, a thriller that was previously published in the UK that is being released in the US in paperback in April by Hachette's Grand Central Publishing unit (Thank You Miriam Parker!) and a published copy of Lord of Corruption by Kyle Mills, which I will be giving away, probably to my one thousandth commenter on the The Thin Red Line im association with an April review date.

One final thought, today. I have been thinking of trying to organize some kind of South Puget Sound bloggers group where we could meet up face to face, like at the library meeting room maybe once a month just to talk and get to know each other and look at ways we can work together to butter All of our bread. If you are a blogger in the South Sound area and would be interested in attending a get together, please shoot an e-mail to me at drone AT libdrone DOT info.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I honestly don't know

how those bloggers with multiple blogs do it. I had been thinking of trying to make Purely Personal a weekly updated blog, though it is Friday night and tomorrow morning at 8am I am back to work another week and I just never did get around to coming up with a post to go here. On the books blog, I have posted today's and pre-posted Monday's entries and have read Wednesday's book and just need to write the review, when I can find the time.

I am getting some traffic from the ads I have placed on CMF, but my unique count is just down in the toilet and I don't know what to do about it. So many people have come in and said "wow, this place is great" but they just don't seem to generate much traffic. I have greatly expanded the number of books blogs in my RSS feeds page, but have not yet figured out how to promote this page. I also haven't taken any steps towards signing up for the affiliate programs and setting up special sites designed just to drive traffic to affiliate links. I seem to be somewhat ambivalent about the whole project.

Meanwhile another week has gone by. I did finally e-mail my mother, but expect she is still peeved with me for putting it off for so long. (she didn't write back as yet). Ron and I both had shrink appts on Tuesday. My meds are working and I just got another 6 months renewal, but Ron's meds were completely changed and so far he seems to be doing well on Wellbutrin and Librium. Fingers crossed. Need to go ahead and publish this and get to bed so I can be bright eyed at work tomorrow. Here's hoping your week has gone well.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

rambling insomniac thoughts

My sleep schedule is getting out of whack again. Yesterday I worked 1:30pm to 9pm. Came home. Had a medium intensity fight with my spouse. Then made up and had some excellent make up whoopie. Then, around midnight, I got on the puter and started looking at my e-mails, my Tweet Deck, etc. Proof-read a post I have scheduled to go live at 12:01 am EST tomorrow. And then I got involved in the Blog Catalog forums, the CMF forums. Ended up reading lots and lots of older posts. And next thing I know, now it is 6am and I am faced with the equally disagreeable choices of going to bed and sleeping all day or staying up and trying to accomplish what I'd planned on for today, despite running on empty. (sighs)

Several weeks ago, I decided I'd had enough of the Entrecard "drop 300 cards every day" treadmill and cut Way way back on my dropping. My traffic went down significantly, as I knew it would. (Just btw, this in reference to my primary blog The Thin Red Line, rather than the blog you are reading just now.) But I noticed something odd when I checked my stats last night. While I have gone down from an average of 300--500 unique visitors per day to about 125--150 uniques/day, my page views are way up. Where my 300--500 uniques with all the EC junk traffic (those who remember this thread on Blog Catalog will note the large serving of crow I am eating) generally produced a very similar number of page views, yesterday's 135 unique visitors racked up more than 500 page views. This suggests to me, that while I am not getting as many visitors as before, the visitors I do get are taking the time to read more than one post and explore the site. Which suggests to me that even as my Alexa has gone back up (14x,000 at the moment), I am getting more readers who are genuinely interested in the site content.

I'm also feeling just a little bit of a need to eat still More crow for this thread in which I stated emphatically that I had a plan and expected my site to produce meaningful income within two to three years. Now that we are about to that point I've cleared a total of 10 dollars on the site last year and am earning a small amount of money from my new favorite place, CMFads. Glad I didn't quit the day job. But I do genuinely enjoy writing my book reviews and I have learned so much over the past two and a half years. It remains to be seen if I will find my way into earning a real income from my writing and blogging. But I have to say that despite having learned just how hard it is to honestly earn a buck online, that I have no regrets and would do it all again in a heartbeat. I continue to meet and make new friends on CMFads and on Twitter (which Turnip bless his heart suddenly made Really useful to me by helping to understand the right way to use TweetDeck).

If you'd like to learn about CMFads and how it stacks up against other blog advertising services, be sure to visit The Thin Red Line tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

it seems as though

I am never going to be a consistent regular poster on this blog. Watching the new Obama administration with a bit of hope and the crumbling economy with a bit of fear, though down here at the bottom I honestly don't think things will get much worse for us. My work schedule has switched from Monday mornings to Monday evenings, so now Friday and every other Saturday are our only get up early days. That is nice, since we both prefer to sleep late. No news to report from these parts.