In a few weeks, I'll be unemployed, and I will finally get the chance to go back to being self-employed. This is a big risk for me, of course, because there's always the possibility that I'll just not find enough work, and will have to go back working for a big company to pay the bills.
I do not want to go back to work for someone else. This means I'm going to have to do my best to scrape up work on my own, for various things.
What kind of "Living Outside The Box" guy would I be if I didn't though, right?
I'm offering my services as a freelancer in several areas:
- Book/general copy editing (Have edited/formatted my own book, and a few for others)
- Article writing (I write here, and several other blogs on a regular basis)
- Music lessons (I majored in theory, instrumental performance, etc. in college)
- Background music for Youtube videos and podcasts (Have several satisfied customers already)
- Computer tech work (20 years experience, and HP certified)
Plus I'm going to work on finishing more novels and music projects for my own income. I may even branch out into other areas as time permits. I'm flexible, and in about 3 weeks, I'll be able to start adding jobs to my schedule.
There are tons of websites, books, and shows about self-improvement. It's a billion-dollar business. Everywhere you look, there's ads for someone offering to help you become a better person.
Is this what God really wants of us?
We know that God can use the weak things of the world to defeat the strong. We know he uses the simple things to confound the world's wisdom. So where is there room for us to want to become stronger, wiser, and better?
I know it sounds preposterous at first. "Why would God not want us to become stronger?" But there are people who, by their actions, believe exactly that. They have become so weak, that they fear any kind of strength.
David, the second King of Israel, was a strong, fighting man. And yet, we see how God used not David's strength, but his devotion, to defeat his enemies. Does that mean it was wrong for him to be a strong fighter? Certainly not! It is who God intended David to be. David's strength was useful in all areas of his life, not just the battlefield. And in the end, he still had to fight battles.
One of the interesting things about training to become stronger is that you have to come to grips with how weak you currently are. You can't focus on eliminating weakness unless you can spot it. This applies to mental and spiritual weakness as well! And everyone- everyone- has weakness.
Is Weakness Bad?
At one point, I actually had a topic schedule here at Outside The Box. I had different topic categories to write about for each day of the week. I did that for a couple of months actually, until work got the best of me, and I had to drop a few of the balls I was juggling.
Through no fault of my own, I'm going to end up with quite a few more hours of time to write in the very near future. The question remains: What should I do with this unexpected windfall of time?
I think this will be an excellent opportunity to write about some topics I've been itching to dig into. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep politics out of it- I have no interest in discussing the current elections. I will however cover things like projects I'm working on, culture shifts (and how that affects us), and movements in the tech industry.
I will also be working on setting up ways to sell my work, so I can keep bringing quality content to you, my loyal readers and friends!
Besides writing fiction and blogging, I'll be working on publishing non-fiction e-books and making music (under Creative Commons) for people to use in Podcasts or Youtube videos. I'll also be working on projects at home, for business.
If you're interested in letting me help you with my creative talents, let me know!
In the last few weeks, there's been quite a bit of news going on with the Presidential campaign (which I won't talk about) and how the media covers it. Specifically, there's been a LOT of people complaining that social media platforms are censoring honest criticism, and mostly on one side.
This of course is a problem if you live in the United States, where we (supposedly) have protection of free speech under the First Amendment. If you post something that someone doesn't like- you could be censored, suspended, or in extreme cases, have your account terminated or even be personally attacked, without actually violating the site's TOS.
With the recent craziness going on at Facebook and Twitter, defenders of free speech have been getting banned from the social media platforms, and are looking for alternatives (and they're out there). The most recent I'd heard of is Gab.ai, which isn't even in full production yet, but is already garnering a huge influx of users migrating from Twitter and Facebook because of its staunch "no-censorship" policy. Users are welcome to filter anything they don't want to see for themselves, but they won't be able to get other users censored for saying something they don't like (illegal activity is still addressed, of course).
But from the looks of it, the Social Media giants are slowly showing cracks at the seams. Twitter's stock is declining steadily after a failed attempt to sell the company, and Facebook's insistence on becoming "all things to all people" is bordering on anti-trust territory.
You could almost say... they're ready to croak.
Nevertheless, I am overjoyed there's someone stepping up to fight for free speech. And with Gab.ai's user count exploding, I can't be the only one!
It's snowball time- in more ways than one.
As I mentioned yesterday, I've been ridiculously busy. After seriously considering my schedule, and piles of unfinished projects, I've decided to to a "Project Purge." And like Dave Ramsey teaches when trying to crush overwhelming obstacles, I'm going to use the "snowball method" to make it happen.
This means I'm going to look at my entire list of projects, and do two things:
- Determine if I really need to do it at all
- Prioritize the smallest projects first, to knock them out
This will let me systematically minimize what I'm doing. There are some projects that will either take a very long time (home remodeling) or last indefinitely (restoring the Rambler). But other things I can "finish" and take them off my plate.
I've also decided to quit caffeine again. No, I'm not going to enjoy it. But my face started breaking out again, and I'm not getting enough sleep. So "rest" will be one of those projects I'm working on.
Bike riding will have to be scaled back some, as will working on music equipment, building/collecting things, and so on. I need to get rid of piles of things I'm never going to finish. Do I really need a pile of guitar effect pedals, when I can do everything I need with just one? Do I need to keep R/C car parts "just in case" I get around to using them? Probably not.
I still have buckets of computer parts and networking stuff, which I'll never use again... those need to go to a good home. 15-year-old computer CD's? Gone. Stuff I bought to do with my kids, who never showed interest? Don't need it.
The next few months are going to be hard, because those are all things I want to have time to do. But ultimately, I don't need to do them all, and holding on to that "stuff" associated with them is clutter in the house, and in my mind.
My first real 700C road bike was a used 12-speed Peugeot I got back in the early 90's. When I think of old-school road bikes, that's the first thing that pops in my head. It's French, it's classy, it's fast... what's not to like?
And thus I've procured an '82 Peugeot 12-speed. Well, most of one. The picture is from Josh at Simplicity Vintage Cycles, who sold me a different, but identical bike (sans wheels). Mine will look very similar, though with a different crankset, and other different small bits and pieces.
This particular model is an '82 PH-12 Centennial Edition, which was to commemorate Peugeot's founding in 1882. Everything on the bike was French, including the "Carbolite" steel tubing and Michelin tires. This bike is interesting not only because of that, but also because it's aero.. like, really aero for the 80's. Brake levers, downtube shifters, ovalized tubes, water bottle, and brake calipers were all specifically made to be aerodynamic.
So I guess what I'm going to do is build it up and see just how aero it is, compared to a modern swoopy-tubed bike. This will be my go-to bike for club rides where my heavy, slow Surly would be a liability.
I'm pretty stoked about it, really. Can't wait to get it on the road!
I haven't really talked about it much this time around, but last week (July 12) was the 5-year mark since I was hit by a car and hospitalized while bike commuting.
It's been an interesting 5 years, I have to say. The first year was strictly physical and mental recovery. Year 2 was me proving that I had recovered, so I trained and did a 75 mile bike tour. Years 3-4 were mostly me being too busy to do anything bike-related. Year 5 was the year of the Comeback, with me starting to bike commute again, and eventually, getting my son into cycling as well.
It's been a very good process of therapy. I'm still not commuting as much as I'd like, but my situation is such that it's not really possible just yet. I am now riding group rides with Andy and building up a new (to me) legitimate road bike. I'll post a story about that on Friday, it's pretty exciting to be building bikes again!
I feel like I'm transitioning into a different era. I am juggling lots of responsibilities, and I'm trying to make solid choices. I'm spending a lot of time playing and working with the family. I'm laying aside most of my extracurricular stuff, and focusing on my health and my family: two things which can't be pushed off till later.
So, that means I've spent a lot of time riding my bike on the trainer, or in group rides, instead of commuting. This rubs my sensibilities the wrong way, but I don't have much choice.
I think this will be my last annual recap of the accident, though. The fact that I didn't even think about posting about it last week means I've officially moved on. From this point forward, my focus will be on where we go from here.
Get out and ride. Doesn't matter where.
There's something crazy about successful people. They normally don't succeed at something, and then sit back and say "well, that's done, I guess I can just sit back and chill for the rest of my life."
I mean, there's a few people that have done that... but most don't. Why is that? It's a result of the drive that made them successful in the first place. You can't just turn it off.
Sometimes, you fail pretty hard. In my case, I did a Social Media Fast for a couple of months. I also gave up caffeine.
Both of which I've failed at, off and on, in the last few weeks. Does that mean I'm a failure? No. Does that mean I can't succeed at them? Nope. Just means I need to be aware of it, learn from it, and adjust as necessary.
I've also made an effort to slim down the amount of projects I work on at any given time. This is out of necessity, because I'd never finish anything if I didn't narrow my focus.
Building on my discovery of Microadventures, I'm going to begin working on ways I can document those, and focus on how I can get the most out of them. I also want to include the kids in Adventures as often as possible.
I've got more adventuring in store- a new bike build, camping, and maybe even a multi-day bike tour! This weekend, I'm doing the IOLS (Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills) class to be a fully qualified BSA Scoutmaster. I will report back!