Ethereality and Creative Reality

There’s a concept that I really like, and in English it would take me 1000 words just to explain. I forget where I learned about it first, but in Japanese it is called “Mono No Aware”, (‘mono’ like “moe-noe”, ‘no’ like we say it, ‘aware’ like this: “ah-wa-ray” – sue me I like pronouncing things correctly). And the translation is basically the recognition that nothing we have or do is permanent, that it is all passing – but to do so with an appreciation and empathy for those things.

If you have been reading my blog (which is great that you are doing that but – holy crap I only have -what, 10 posts maybe?) then you know that I have recently gotten some world-shaking news. Through the combined effort of my wife and I, there is a child coming in to the world. I am planning on posting this particular post (that you are reading, right now) about a week or two after my ‘announcement’ post that is addressing my children and my acknowledged inadequacies directly.

And there is a reason that Mono No Aware comes up with the subject of Children. Ever since I first got the news from my wife, my mind has been doing absolutely everything that it can to avoid the fact that there are metaphysical doors in my life that are shutting, very quickly. No, They have shut, but I just have not yet looked at the new state of my life to acknowledge exactly what has shut and was has remained open. I will not be able to quit my job in a huff and pursue writing full time  anything that does not consistently pay me money. I will not be able to work on my master’s degree (at least – not where I was planning on doing so). I will soon not be able to stay out with the guys past a certain hour. I can not waste my time on bullshit.

I want to build something for my child. For my children. But thinking about the future like that forces me to extrapolate further and realize that in only 2 or 3 generations (4 or 5 if I am lucky), the only evidence that will remain of me and my legacy (other than some old photos and a dusty memorialized facebook account) are the intangible things that I need to start thinking of right now as to how I want to raise my children.

In short: I would like to have more educated people in the world; so I will raise my child to love learning. I am excessively interested in truth and people fighting for it; so I will raise my child to value truth like fresh water on a long hike. I would like to have more peaceful people in the world; so I will raise my child with gentleness and respect. A lot of other things are on this list as well, including several things from the last link on my ‘about’ page.

The awareness involved in really looking at and embracing Mono No Aware is a scary one and it makes me realize that my legacy is a very real thing and a very ephemeral thing. My children will be the cement in which I write my name, but they may also be the backhoe that rips up that same cement. If I know humans (and I think I do, at least a little) I will probably want them to strip away some of the legacy that I am going to be imprinting upon them – we humans are terrible people sometimes, and terrible people sometimes make terrible parents, but I think even terrible parents want their children to minimize their terrible qualities.

Now, to art.

Holy crap my children are going to be one of the most important things in my life. That realization still hits me really hard. And I get to form them – not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. This means that I can look at them as a canvas upon which I will make my mark. My rough stone from which I will carve a beautiful statue that others will adore or a pillar that will hold up a great structure. They are the room full of people that have no idea what sort of story I am about to inflict upon them.

I don’t even get a choice! My mark will be on my children whether I like it or not – and whether they like it or not. I hope that I can approach this with excitement more than dread.

I think that storytelling will be similar to raising children in a few ways.

Stories are very ephemeral – they don’t stick around very long, like dancing, sand sculptures, and a few other art forms. Having a story in your head is a little different than telling a story. Getting it in your head and maintaining it there is just the work that you do ahead of time – the art is in the telling. Same goes for teaching anything, but over the course of my progeny’s childhood this fact will be highly emphasized – The stories that I tell and the things that I teach them will not have a lasting, physical effect. Hopefully they will have a lasting effect.

When I tell a story, I hope to give people an experience and entertainment with my words, my voice, my inflections and emphases and so forth. But I cannot just list off a bunch of verbs and nouns and tell people “you are now entertained.” Similarly, for the next few decades at least – I will be telling my children things that I hope they will remember. But there will be very few things that I can point to that I will be able to say “see that – that is the particular thing that I meant to do. And here it is.” And in this way, both raising children and storytelling are similar – it is in the action of the thing is where the important bits are.

 

An Important Event Planned for the Spring

First off, I am apologizing in advance for the nerdy style of speech that I am using. I am apologizing mostly to my family – many of my family are not nerds and I suppose they just have to put up with it. I am also apologizing to my friends, but I think if you are still my friend, then I already know that you will excuse my language, which can be very over-the-top sometimes. I love analogy, metaphor, and other flowery ways of saying things that are just downright overdone.

One way or the other: please read the whole post. I like to write, and you reading it will encourage that. Also this is a much better way of communicating things to people en masse.

That being said, I am not exactly the sort of person that will put their kitchen remodel on Facebook. Or their cat, dog, lizard, or hell, even family. That’s right – I don’t like to put my family on Facebook, because I’ve noticed how little I like seeing your family on Facebook. I’m not going to tell you not to put it up there, because I suppose that is what Facebook is for. Probably not a popular opinion that I hold, but hey, there you go. But considering this blog is for me what Facebook is for seemingly everyone else, I also don’t plan on putting them up here.

Oh, except for a few that help me to effectively communicate things. I will be doing my best to keep posts on-topic. So…this post is about my family…

Ultrasound 1

Congratulations, Seth. It’s a potato. It’s an on-topic potato.

I will, however, talk about important things that happen to me. Things of cyclopean import that shake the very foundations of my existence and make my brain all fuzzy for days on end. The things that sweep through my life like a flood from some divine spring, scouring the landscape inside my head down to the bedrock. Things that throw all other things against the wall to become shadows in the glaring importance of this new-found truth. Things that, when the light finally dims from my new perspective, the shadows will have etched themselves upon the wall in bas-relief, while this new thing stands as a fully-realized sculpture within my mental vaults, an altar to a transformed state of mind.

And it’s not like this event was not somewhere on the horizon. Amanda and I were actually talking about having kids, considering that her stomach issues were getting figured out and we’ve had a few years to figure out stumble blindly through marriage. I mean, right now this event is only just visible below the line of the horizon, it is so far off. But it has separated itself from the ‘distant future’ and can now be faithfully predicted, firmly in what I understand to be called the ‘middle future’. That is – not tomorrow and not next week, but so frighteningly close that I need to start planning things that have to do with it. With a date – even one given to me by experts in the matter!

That date is March 11. On this date, I’m going to be a father. My brain has not been able to wrap itself around that fact.

We are not entirely sure how this will all look when we get to it, either. We may move (doing a pregnant waddle up and down icy stairs all day might not be what Amanda wants to do in the final month or so). We may get different jobs, more attuned to our new responsibilities (i.e. making more money because kids are hella expensive). We may turn into odd caterpillar-like things, wrapped in a cocoon of stress, unsure of the specific form that we will take upon breaking out into the rest of the world, but – just like the hypothetical butterfly in question, we are totally convinced that everyone will want to see and hold and make adorable noises at the product of our regeneration and stress – and they will probably take pictures of this product like mad, as well.

SO I figure you want to know some details:

First off: if you want ongoing details and updates about the littlest Kleinpaste, then email me [seth.kleinpaste@stumblestoryinn.com] and put “SUBSCRIPTION TO BABY” in the subject bar. If you use the form to the left, you will not get a subscription to baby. The form to the left is for a much more nerdy things.

Detail 1: As I said above, March 11th is the due date. This puts this post (that you are reading, right now!) at the very beginning of the 2nd trimester (specifically, 13 weeks and 6 days), which we have heard is the beginning of the more ‘out of the woods’ area of pregnancy in regards to danger.

Detail 2: Some people have known for a while, and they are either family or married/already-have-kids folks that are part of our regular lives (as in, we see them at least once a week). There are a few other people that know – but it was leaked to them on accident or they were just in a place where we had to be talking about it. I am not 100% sure what Amanda thinks, but I for one have been extremely excited and I am just done with my poker face – people have even asked me about ‘hypothetical children’ in the last month where I almost burst out laughing.

Detail 3: This was a surprise to us, as well as you. If Amanda and I would choose, we would probably wait at least until we get a solid extra set of wheels. Down one car is already time-consuming enough, now we need to pay various baby-related medical bills while trying to save for a car/find a loan that fits our budget. Considering this is a surprise, we are probably going to become very creative in our baby-supply-procuring-endeavors. We don’t want to put people out, but we may cleverly disguise ‘begging for free diapers’ with a ‘contest where you get a bottle of booze if you bring the most diapers to an event’.

Detail 4: Not as related as the other details, I have a website! You are on it right now! I am actually using this post as a sort of ‘stress test’ to see how my webhost does. I am using this website for a few different things, and they may or may not be of interest to you. Please check back often, especially if you care about nerdy things or if you want to know my thoughts about parentage, etc.

I still don’t know what the whole ‘baby’ business means for this website, but as of the time of writing, I already have a few posts planned that deal with the philosophy of parenthood and fatherhood (which I think are slightly different in… important ways).

If you want to comment on this post, I invite you to do so here on this website (you probably won’t see your post at first – the system I have in place requires me to moderate each one). Responding on facebook is also cool.

RIP Robin Williams

I’ve never had a celebrity that I cared about die on me. I did not realize that any celebrity could actually affect me this way. Hell, I didn’t even realize that I cared about him.

But the internet has been all a-buzz about it, so I had a lot in front of my face to think about – and I think I know why I care about it.

My childhood was quite turbulent, as family goes. I did not see much of my extended family very often. My parents divorced when I was young, so I never saw both sides congregate at anything until my older brother got married – and even then, a last-minute date change forced a great deal of them to not be able to show.

My point is that I never knew my uncles very well. Some friends of either of my parents sort of filled that role a bit, but it never quite cut it.

From what I understand of the real world, uncles are supposed to be accessible to young people. They make a whole bunch of jokes that you don’t get – and they explain them to you, despite your parent’s wishes. They show you all about those noisy and destructive things that your parents don’t want to teach you – but parents don’t want to teach you only because they would rather not be the ones responsible for you having that knowledge (it’s a ‘plausible deniability’ thing, I think). They impart a whole bunch of wisdom that your parents have been trying to hammer into you for years – and you don’t even think to resist them.

I saw Robin Williams more often than I saw much of my family. He is funny and does almost nothing but tell jokes. When I started getting old enough to understand the important things in life, I was exposed to some of his drama. Even in his drama he is funny and manic sometimes. I can still recite that little portion of a poem that he recited in A.I.

Thinking back, I think even his manic characters are important for me where my philosophical landscape is concerned – Aladdin‘s genie wanted freedom – he could literally get anything but freedom, and freedom was all he wanted. The genie’s primary goal was to make life good for Aladdin. He did that with his magic, sure – but he also imparts incredible advice, in some extremely overt ways, when Aladdin needed it. Whether Aladdin wanted it or not (“Tell. Her. The. TRUTH.”)

He never talks to me directly, but he is always addressing me. In any role that he portrays, there is some moment where he takes control of the scene and says some incredible, profound wisdom.

He is one of those people that, at this point in my life, I would invite over to my house for a humble dinner if I saw him on the street. Very few celebrities are on my short list of  “people I want to have over for dinner.”

I am not totally sure what I am getting at here. I know that I want to be a good uncle for my nephew (he is a gigantic little 2-year old child), and I will probably look to Williams as an example for that. But otherwise, I gotta say – I miss him already. But remember that thing that he got the most joy from was making people laugh. So crack a joke for every tear that you shed for him.

The internet people I blame for this website’s existence

So, I am putting this post here partly because I need to write more things that I can publish immediately. I am also putting it here because these people are part of what a) Inspired b) Motivated or c) Instructed me in one way or another that eventually made this website exist. I will probably be mentioning each and every one of these people/websites in that E-book that I talked about some number of posts back.

All the names will link to their respective ‘about’ pages, because I not only want you to see these awesome and wonderful people, but also to know what they are up to. I feel an odd sort of kinship with these people, even though I have never spoken to them. This is probably because they spend a lot of time mucking about in my head, talking to me about a bunch of things that I find interesting.

Welcome to Night Vale

at Commonplacebooks is comprised of so many people that I don’t think that I could reasonably mention them all here. But they are the first ones that managed to scratch that itch that I had for audio entertainment that wasn’t music. Damned good storytelling – about a strange town in the desert with tons of unexplained phenomena that no one (except Carlos) seems to want to figure out, and a rivalry with another town that worships a smiling god.

Ryan Costello, Jr., Cathy Dolan, and Jefferson J. Thacker (a.k.a. Perram)

are the people at the Know Direction podcast, which started from the 3.5 Private Sanctuary – A place the the now-defunct revised 3rd edition of D&D can live on. It has grown a lot and added both Geek Together and Know Direction – all of which do a great job of getting in to the nerd world, and specifically into the fantasy d20 world. Once Pathfinder came on the scene they started to shift focus to that game, which is basically taking the rules of 3.5 and running with it as if 4th edition never happened.

Escape Pod

A science fiction podcast that, when I found it, it was well past episode 400. I started working my way back and I think I got all the way to 200 before I decided to only listen to the new ones as they came out. It would be impossible to mention each individual person, since there are so many different authors, readers, and other staff. They do some great work, and I only discovered them after I decided to do Apprentice Storytelling 

Podcastle

Just like Escape Pod, only fantasy. Similar story, but there is an itch more vital to me that gets scratched by fantasy. I am still working my way back with this one, and I am only as far back as 274 (they are on 322 at time of writing).

Daniel J. Lewis, specifically where he exists on The Audacity to Podcast

Another one that I started at episode 1 and then just caught up over the next few months, The Audacity to Podcast is a lot more technical than all of these previous entries. It is amazing that he is gives away as much advice as he does – for free. This guy makes a living off of his podcasts, and I have the feeling that if you would have a conversation with him in real life, he would be that guy that just won’t shut up about it. The twist is that practically everything that he would say, he has already tried.

Not just the podcasting side of things, but how you should think about setting up your website, where you should set up your website, how you should approach social media, and a slew of other things. If you plan to try to get people to look at stuff you create, then you should listen to this guy.

The Podcaster’s Roundtable 

A bunch of people – they specifically try to get someone new on the rotation every time they do a new episode. Several of the best “podcasters who podcast about podcasting” are almost always represented, along with some of the other more specific niches – anything from writing to knitting to…I can’t remember because I was not really interested in what they podcasted about, rather I cared about how they did it.

Mur Lafferty from the podcast I Should Be Writing.

It was, from what I can tell, originally a way for Mur to motivate herself to get a book published. And it worked. Seriously: she has a few books published. Now she continues to podcast about different aspects of the writing and publishing business while she is writing her young adult fiction. She is also (formerly and currently) an editor at the above Escape Pod science fiction podcast. In her podcast, she often interviews editors, authors, publishers, and other industry insiders.

Pat Flynn

Similar to Daniel J. Lewis, Pat Flynn has the Smart Passive Income blog, website, and everything else that he can think of to round out that idea. He even has an E-book that you can download for free – you just have to sign up for his email list, which has been pretty cool to be a part of (even if I never actually email him back or buy anything). Pat’s focus is much more on the profit side of things, and has a ton of advice for how to make a business out of niche websites. I am about to listen to episode number 85, out of a current 121.

My Life is Frustrating. But Only a Little.

I am posting this right before I post another, more RPG-nerdy post. I am doing this because I think that this website is not about my life – it is about a life that I share with the geeky community. Very little of this post relates directly to the nerds, so I am intentionally burying it in the archives. I am including it anyways because I want people to be able to see what was going on in my life as I was getting this website off the ground.
So, I am now (3^3)+1 years old.

Some of this is going to go into a chapter in the book that I talked about.

I thought at this point that I would be married, have a kid, have a low-level job in a career that I wanted to devote my life to, and be making enough money that the panic of ‘oh god rent’ will be only be a hold-over emotional artifact from my youthful college days.

Apparently, that is not so. The only one on that list that I actually have is a Wife, and she is great. I work in an industry I have zero interest in. One of our cars just blew a head gasket and we have to buy a new (cheap) car, – which means that rent is still a thing to be worried about.

Because money is tight, I am less able to pay for the things that would make this website a complete whole. Specifically, I don’t think that it is wise to pay for the level of media hosting that my overall plan was calling for (the $15/month level would allow me to do multiple Apprentice Game Master episodes every week and once-every-other for both Apprentice StoryTeller and Nerd’s Apprentice). Seriously – I cannot reasonably pay the very reasonable price of $15/month.

I can tell you why I cannot afford it. The specifics are not important – the car dying, the medical issues that Amanda and I dealt with recently, school loan payments, cars dying again, friends or family that desperately need help – all of these and more ate my budget, each to different degrees.

But it seems to me that I should still be able to afford $15/month. It is very discouraging that I cannot (responsibly) do that. It makes me less motivated to improve the website – the launch is pushed back even further, why do I need to deal with that right now? It makes me less motivated to record more audio – I have a big pile of unedited stuff just waiting for me – why would I make that pile bigger? It makes me less motivated to go edit the stuff I do have – I cannot release it in a responsible way to the public – why make a tool I cannot use? It makes me mentally constipated – I have all this stuff I cannot get done, but all this stuff has to just sit there and all get in the way of each other.

If you know of a way to get free media hosting at LibSyn (or BluBrry, I suppose) for longer than a month or two, let me know. I will not use media host that does not make real promises about ownership, advertising, etc. to their customers.

If you know of a way to make a bunch of money fall out of the air into my lap, let me know. I am an Amazon Associate, but I cannot really do a lot with that until I get more traffic, and my traffic cannot increase until I well and truly launch, and I cannot launch until I get media hosting.

 

Need to get back in.

I think I’ve been listening to too many people talking about podcasts, and not enough people talking about Pathfinder.

I know this because I got my website up so fast and I still haven’t managed to finish writing that first adventure or edit a single other episode. Those two goals would be switched, if I had my way. Have more content and a half created site would be better than half-finished content and a reasonably full site.

To be fair to myself, I have had a really stressful week or two, and building a website from nothing is a whole bunch of really little tasks that are easy to accomplish. So I am not really mad at myself – I am just acknowledging where I am and where I need to focus.

SO…  The only thing other thing that I want to work on for the site now is

  • the continual cataloging of my experiences, so that I can put it all into an e-book for free for my readers/listeners
  • make an email opt-in option

The first one is a continual task that will also contribute to my blog. The second one is something that I keep hearing is absolutely foolish not to put up as early as possible. I will do my best not to hit people over the head with it.

BUT…as far as content goes, I need to be ‘in’ the RPG world a little more. Which means I need to be writing the last of that adventure – the hardest part of which is going to be the hook.

I also need to be editing episodes of everything, which I don’t like to do without being able to say “I will have a full episode ready at the end of this,” but I don’t even know how long it takes me to edit a single episode – I have only finished one, and it is the first of the weird-format ones about character creation. I think not knowing how long it will take has been a mental block – I never want to take time away from my time with my wife, so I never want to sit down and edit when my wife is in the house, and she is never out of the house for the same amount of time as any other time. Not that she is unpredictable, just not consistent from day-to-day. Makes it hard to come up with a  plan for all this stuff.

But my goal for this weekend is to finish the adventure (with a hook) and to finish editing one more episode. I need 9 from the Apprentice Game Master and 3 from Apprentice StoryTeller and Nerd’s Apprentice to be where I want to be for launch.

I should also figure out a good schedule. Maybe 6 hours every sunday…

This is here as an experiment. You should probably just ignore it.

This is here as an experiment. You should probably just ignore it.

 

 

A week in, and I already want to write a book.

And, while I am really figuring some stuff out,

I STILL HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING.

And I would still really like for you to tell me if/when I am doing something wrong. Please – you can email me (seth.kleinpaste@stumblestoryinn.com) or use the contact/feedback pages. I will get back to you, probably very soon.

So, my website has been up for a week. Time to talk about it. BUT FIRST – an idea that struck me.

This is put here as an experiment.

This is put here as an experiment.

I realized that so far I had nothing to give anyone coming here to my website, and that was really unfortunate. I think that I will be ready to launch my podcasts very soon (more on that later), but other than my photos (which are low-resolution versions of the originals), my…meandering blog posts that I will surely have, and some interesting links for you to go to on the resources page, I have not given anyone a single reason to come here. SO, I was at work one day with nothing to do but work with my hands and my brain was off on some tangents in a podcast and I thought

“Holy crap. I’m in a very unique position right now. I should write a book about that. And give it away.”

Specifically, I am in the position of ‘about to launch my first podcast’, at the same time that I launch my second and third podcast, at the same time that I launch my blog and website. Also, I was kinda hoping that I could make a brand out of all this stuff and possibly (one day) make a living off of it.

I also have a problem: whenever I start talking to people about my plans to start a website/blog/podcast/etc, I see this expression come over their face. It is an interesting expression – it is one that expresses genuine interest, but not because the subject is inherently interesting – but they are being pulled along in the wake of my interest, and they perhaps are wondering when I am going to stop making such a big wake in the waters of the conversation so we can get back to something that is interesting to more people (more sane people?). So this book will be a very good way to express this stuff to someone (my keyboard, at the moment), and return to normal conversation with all my friends.

My plan is that I will do a series of blog posts, and each of these posts will be another chapter in my upcoming book. If you think you have heard about this somewhere – you probably have. Pat Flynn is a guy that started a blog and an online business. He actually did the exact same thing – you can read his blog and get the exact same content, or you can get his E-book for free. And the best part is the recursion – his E-book is written on the topic of publishing E-books.

My book will likely have a lower production value, especially where the graphics are concerned. But I wanted to be able to give something to people, and what better to give people than a bit of perspective? I will be writing in media res, and I expect the theme to be something along the lines of a note of encouragement. A statement of “hey guys, I know it doesn’t seem to be getting any better, but I can see the end of the road from here!”. I hope that I will be able to break down the confusing parts into something comprehensible, and maybe even inspire some people to start their own podcast.

So, a week. what have I done with this week?

I put up a handful of pages, all those things that you think and see when you go to the websites of other successful internet people. I actually specifically modeled it after these other people. The difference between ‘feedback’ and ‘contact’ still mystifies me – and maybe I should merge them into one page. I think I got way too wordy on my ‘resources’ page, so I made it private until I can change it to something reasonable. Something that I am continually proud of is sitting over on my photography page. I like photos. Especially mine, and especially when they earn me an ‘A’.

I tried out all sorts of different themes, and landed on Parabola by Cryout Creations. At first when I started trying things out, I thought that I had accidentally paid for a theme (something that I absolutely should not be doing right now). But it turns out that they just know what makes people want to give them money. It is robust, it is pretty, I can modify some pretty major things that other free themes just dictate for me, it lets me fiddle with any little setting that I could even think of (and a lot that I didn’t). I think that you should try out their themes and then go give them some money. I do not get paid for what I am saying here. If website ever starts making money, I am going to give some of it to these guys, either by buying some paid themes, or just giving it to them – they just give such good stuff away. I want to show my support, and I would love it if you tried them out on your own website.

I have gotten a whole bunch of plugins, mostly at the direction of Daniel J. Lewis, specifically the 41st episode of the Audacity to Podcast. (this also exemplifies one of the best parts about blogging and podcasting – there is a record of good info just sitting around like low-hanging fruit).

I have gone out and made a bunch of social media pages so they will be ready when it is time to really do that stuff. All the links will be at the end of the blog posts, and I have a StumbleStoryInn on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. There are other links to other things, and I encourage you to use those links if you like my stuff. Hell – use those links if you don’t like my stuff. Just use the links, please.

I need to change a few things: there are a few colors that I don’t like, but my more graphically-oriented wife is not in the room at the moment. My header is certainly going to change. I like the photo that it is taken from, but it has absolutely nothing to do with apprentices, games, podcasts, stories, and only a little bit with nerds (it is japanese 6-1, by the way). I need to figure out how to turn off pointless information about the lack of commentary at the bottom of most pages. I am considering a column of useful stuff on the left side, but not sure.

Ok, this has gone on for a while, so I will wrap up after this: If you happen to come to my site right now, you would think that I am about to go to LibSyn and start my media hosting stuff. A problem happened, though – Amanda’s car died. This means that the small amount of leeway in my budget just disappeared overnight. Unless someone donates money to me, or I find a bunch of money in a briefcase in the alley out back – My plans for the podcast are to continue editing and making episodes ready, but posting them might be an interesting trick right at the moment.

Thanks for reading.