Let’s do one of those posts where I touch on a whole bunch of stuff without really telling you anything much at all. Okay. Yeah. Let’s do it.

I watched the Marriage Story last weekend. It’s one of those movies that has no reason at all to be a movie. Being on the big screen or the TV, it would make no difference to this movie. I’m not sure what the big deal is over this movie… it was okay, well acted, made me never want to get divorced in Los Angeles, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it. Being as I’ve been through divorce twice… yeah, divorce sucks for everybody and the only people that make out are the lawyers. I guess I’d say, yeah, this is a thing I’ve seen.

I’ve started watching The Witcher. I’m up through episode 3? I think 3. Still not feeling the love. The scenery is good, the world is good, the costumes are a little hit and a little miss, but the characters don’t feel genuine to me. Still feels like actors trying to find the ebb and flow of their characters. The wife has issues with the dialogue, but that doesn’t bother me so much. I’m enjoying it, but I’m not necessarily buying into it yet. Episode 3 was the best of the three I’ve watched, hopefully the next 5 will keep that trend moving forward.

My first guitar lesson is tonight. I’ve been doing my 1-2-3-4 exercises, but haven’t tried to do much more than that. Also, this amp is a complicated little mess of a thing that I’ve been struggling with a bit. Probably, I’m just an idiot. Lots of presets and not a lot of documentation about what those presets are. Also…. my fingers and wrist are not used to these positions. Looking forward to meeting my instructor.

The dog does not like the guitar. He barks and barks until I tell him to shut it. The cat just sits and stares. The wife took all of one day to figure out what I was up to… She hasn’t been in that bedroom in 6-months… Ah well, surprise ruined.

Went to Mission BBQ for dinner last night. Definitely a barbeque place. All the same foods you would expect. Lady Ronn loves her BBQ. I had a pulled pork sandwich. Food was good. Service was good. Lots of police, fire, and military memorabilia on the walls. I’d eat there again, but I probably wouldn’t make it a weekly stop. I’m not that much into the BBQ.

I move the website over to the Twenty Twenty WordPress theme and it went pretty smoothly. No disasters to report. Yet. I’m still trying to figure out some of the features and options in the new theme, so I’m probably not using it to its utmost. I’ll get there, eventually.

I tested the email notification list, and it seems to be working properly now. Or, at least, it’s sending notifications to me. Feel free to put your email in there and see if it works for you.

I’ve been working on a schedule that will let me do all the things I want to do with my time, but GRCC doesn’t start until next week, so my time isn’t really mine quite yet. Sacrifices are being made for the good of all involved. Probably, I’ll end up with a plan that won’t work anyway. I just want to get away from the hours of meaningless web browsing and time wasting. I’ve got plenty of other things to occupy my attention that are better uses of my time.

I’m listening to the audio book versions of Dave Duncan’s The Seventh Sword series. Just finished book one today and started book two. Book one was one of my favorites back in the day, this time around I found it to be different than I remembered. Good, but not the perennial favorite that I recall. This may just be because I’m not a teenager any longer. 1988 was a long while back. Probably, I’ve changed some. Anyway, I’ll leave you with the blurbs for the first two books in this 4-book series.

The Reluctant Swordsman: Wallie goes to the hospital and wakes up in the body of a barbarian swordsman, accompanied by a voluptuous slave girl and an eccentric priest babbling about the Goddess. When he learns the Goddess needs a swordsman, he reluctantly agrees to set off on her quest.

The Coming of Wisdom: Wallie is staring death in the face when the Goddess gives him a new body and the fabled Sapphire Sword in return for being her champion. But Wallie and his weapon quickly find themselves outmatched in a world of high-stakes magic.

I did not make any resolutions this year. But the usual things are still the things that I need to change in the new year. Really, what is needed is a lifestyle change. Fortunately, I both recognize that need and want to make some changes. I’ve been in a funk since the end of June and I need to shake it off and put things back on track, life-wise. It can be overwhelming to make a handful or more of resolutions and then try and turn all your habits upside down because the last two digits in the year have advanced. It’s a recipe for failure that we all experience. We do it anyway. It just rarely works out. My big change last year was giving up soda. I’ve had some set-backs and I need to cut out the sweet tea, but mostly it’s been a grand success. That is the direction I need to move in; the direction of success.

arohen

So what’s the plan for the website in 2020? More of the same. I’m not making any promises or grand schemes. I recognize that the website is what it is. I don’t think I’m going to steer it into sudden success and internet notoriety. But I still enjoy it. Still enjoy making posts and working on ideas. I still feel more-than-a-little self-generated pressure to have regular content. I’d like to do more video and more audio, but both of those things take a greater degree of planning than I usually give to the posts. I’m not saying I won’t do them, just that I’m tired of saying that I will and then not. I don’t have much of an audience and I’m not sure what that audience really wants, but I think they’ve come up with expectations and I don’t think the future will change those much.

I’m considering changing the look of the whole site, change up the theme for the new decade, but that could be a bit of a project and I don’t know how soon it’ll happen or how much of a mess the site will be during the changes. I took down the post email notification box, because I don’t think it ever worked. I’ve gotten reports that it didn’t anyway. I’ll look into it.

I’m looking at this whole endeavor less as a brand and more as a hobby these days. There for a while I was trying to figure out how to push arohen out into the world. I care less about that now. I still like the idea of the arohen brand as a catch-all for all these ideas, but I feel the same way about Rampant Lion, 274, and Creative Investigator. I’ve got too many unfocused ideas. At this point I’m just going to keep doing what I do and if the world stumbles across any of it, so be it. Mostly I do this just to give Denis something to laugh at.

I’ve got some ideas. There are things I want to try. We’ll see what actually makes it to the web and what doesn’t. I’m not done with this whole business of self-flagellation, yet.

Ronn

Weight loss, flexibility, general fitness. This is not some pledge to lose 50-pounds in 2020. I don’t have luck with those. But as part of the whole getting out of my funk, staying away from mindless hours on the computer, and doing more, I’m pretty confident that there will be some weight loss. Mostly, this is about flexibility. Dear lord, have I gotten rigid and unbending lately. I’m sure the weight doesn’t help, but I’ve been heavy a long time. This can’t bend, can’t twist, can’t flex stuff is new and I HATE it. Once I get going it gets better, but first thing in the morning… I’m like the Tin woodsman in the forest before Dorothy comes along. So that’s the big goal for exercise and weight; do more. Healthwise, my plan to stop eating fast food is pretty simple; I’m going to leave my debit card at home when I go to work. No money. No fast food. Should also cut down on those impulse purchases at Home Depot.

I’m going to cover this one more thoroughly in tomorrow’s post, but I’m going to learn to play guitar this year. I’ve bought the guitar and paid for the lessons. It all starts on Tuesday.

This year I’m going to actually learn to use the Adobe CC. I’ve been paying for it, and Lady Ronn uses it for her photography, but I keep finding myself defaulting back to Corel. Because that’s what I know and that’s what I’m comfortable with. I’m going to delete it from my computer and force myself to figure this thing out. It’s better. It’s more powerful. There’s a ton of possibilities. I’ve just got to do it. Throw away the safety net and dance on the edge… you may not get any new images for awhile 😉

Writing. Always with the writing. You make time for things, you don’t find time. One of the things that I liked about being back in school was that I always had something I HAD to do. It really cut down on the amount of luxuriating time I had available to me. Which was a good thing. Staying busy is the theme for the coming, well, forever. Part of that is slotting in a bit of time for writing everyday. Not 1,667 words. Not 1,000 words. Just a conscious effort to do some everyday. That’s more than I’ve given it in a long time. I’m curious as to how much writing this adds up to. I don’t have a target in mind, just some stories I’d like to write and some skills I’d like to improve.

Say it with me, “No New Projects!” I’m talking about Home Projects, DIY Stuff, not repairs. You can never predict those. Right now I’ve still got things going on in the guest room, the office, the bathroom, the backyard, and let’s not forget the basement. This year is about finishing not starting. Hell, I have much of the materials I need to finish these things. There is no excuse to not get them done. I mean, other than the fact that new projects are so much sexier than existing projects. Enough. I’m going to even go so far as to extend this to my art/craft projects. I need to make a list and start checking things off. 2020 is the year of project completion.

One of the biggest issues for someone like me is complacency. I’ve done pretty well this time around. My life has been a bit of a rollercoaster of successes and failures, highs and lows. I’m at a high/successful place right now. And I have not been nearly vigilant enough about that. With the good times comes a luxuriating complacency that leads to laziness, gluttony, and a lack of focus. I need to make active, purposeful changes to retard that and reduce the likelihood of swinging back into those less prosperous times. That’s really what school was about. But school is over now. I did it. I got my degree. That makes me more secure in the workplace, but right now the workplace is not my main area of concern. It’s the life outside of work that seems to be out of focus and drifting with the tide. That’s why very little of this is work related. (Well, the fitness stuff may be an exception. After all, I’ll be carrying a 28-foot fiberglass ladder around until I’m 70 at this rate.)

I’ve pretty much thrown out any chance of success here. What with the scientific evidence saying that revealing your plan makes it less likely that you’ll succeed. But that’s just how I roll. My wife will probably read this and wonder when I’m going to have time to watch TV, but sacrifices have to be made. Perhaps we could get matching treadmills in front of the screen. Twenty-twenty, the next decade, and the foreseeable future are all about keeping busy, being better, and staying focused.

something from pinterest

I spent a good part of yesterday working with the lovely Lady Ronn on her video documentary. We did shot a bit of B-roll, bounced ideas around, and did more than a few takes of the interview. As I write this, I can hear her editing video in the kitchen. I’m very curious to see what she comes up with and anticipating the final product. Hopefully, she’ll be happy enough with the final cut to let me share it with you.

I’ve got to be honest with you, and I know this is a timing issue, we did not shoot all the shots I wanted to do. It’s due next week and at some point you’ve just got to work with the footage you have. Maybe she’ll let me have the raw video and audio footage, because I’d love to take a shot at editing it together and see what I come up with. Not that I think mine would be better, but it would probably be very different. We have dissimilar opinions on what this Ronn McCarrick: Creative Investigator documentary should be. Also, she’s far more serious than I am.

Today, I cleaned up the backyard a bit, but mostly I fought with this damn website. FTP isn’t working the way I expect it to, the graphics are still wonky in the header, my media library is a mess, and a thousand other little things. It is the very definition of a chore that can never be completed. But rather than breaking things more than they already are I did laundry and took the trash to the curb.

I’ve been stewing around a mess of thoughts on the November novel and I haven’t been able to pick a good idea out of the pot. Right now, my inclination is to just pants it, but I have a very ugly history with doing that. Inevitably I get 10,000 words into an unoutlined project and it just dies on the page. I don’t need a hard-and-fast, set-in-stone outline, but I do need some road signs and distance markers to keep me going through to the 50k mark. So I will continue to stir this pot until I come up with something. I mean, I’ve got, like, 11-days. No worries.

found on pinterest

Somedays I hate having a website. More precisely, I hate having to worry about hacking attacks on my website. This one seems pretty straight forward, but I hate that it’s even a thing. I recognize that they’re just attacking any and every WordPress site, because, really, there is nothing at arohen.com that is worth hacking. But they done did it anyway.

I found an email in my inbox Thursday afternoon from the good folks over at the Google Search Console Team letting me know that they had detected hacked content on my site.

To: Webmaster of http://arohen.com/,


Google has detected that your site has been hacked by a third party who created malicious content on some of your pages. This critical issue utilizes your site’s reputation to show potential visitors unexpected or harmful content on your site or in search results. It also lowers the quality of results for Google Search users. Therefore, we have applied a manual action to your site that will warn users of hacked content when your site appears in search results. To remove this warning, clean up the hacked content, and file a reconsideration request. After we determine that your site no longer has hacked content, we will remove this manual action.

Following are one or more example URLs where we found pages that have been compromised. Review them to gain a better sense of where this hacked content appears. The list is not exhaustive.


http://arohen.com/wp-content/wp-mbrxsmrs.php?blNeyThS=churchills-biscuits
http://arohen.com/wp-content/wp-mbrxsmrs.php?blNeyThS=siamp-optima-50
http://arohen.com/wp-content/wp-mbrxsmrs.php?woixwnmuc=hyaenodon-gigas-size

-Google SearchConsole Team

For starters, don’t go looking up any of those link addresses. Secondly, everything is back rightside up. I took care of it. It’s all good here now, thank you. How are you?

So first I scrubbed my WordPress files with the Bluehost file integrity check. That came back clean. Then I checked things out with Wordfence. That came back with a short list of things that I removed. Then I used Sucuri Security on my site. That came back with a long list of things to look at, but it doesn’t do any fixes and says that if there’s a problem these are places to look. Which I spent too much time looking over. And lastly, I ran Anti-Malware on my site.

Everything comes back copacetic at this point, but still. What a pain in the ass. I mean, I’m glad that somebody is alerting me to this stuff. That’s great. But I don’t have the webmaster chops to be dealing with this stuff effectively and I certainly don’t have the budget to hire anyone to do it for me. This is the kind of nonsense that led me to leave LunarPages and end up on Blogger. I hope that’s not where this is headed. Anyway…

Now that I’ve done all of the above off I go to check the Google SearchConsole site. Fortunately, that site now says that no issues are detected for arohen.com. I must have done something right. The malicious content now removed, it’s time to submit a reconsideration request to Google so that they’ll take the flag off my site.

Such is the joy that is running a website. Later.

And by here now I don’t mean that it’s a thing that you’ve been waiting for and has finally arrived, rather, I mean that I’ve put a redirect in place and that going to RonnMcCarrick.com will now deposit you here at arohen.com. Why? Because running one website is enough for me right now and I frankly don’t have enough content to fill two websites. Not that there was much over there anyway.

I’ve deleted the link at the top of the page and moved the enormous amount of content from the page here. No, not to arohen.com, but to here, this post. Yeah. This is all that was there. It was a thing at one time, then it wasn’t, then I wanted it to be a thing, then I didn’t know what it would be, and now it’s been downsized to a single post and a redirected domain. That’s the short of it, minus the long. This is just part of the website refresh/overhaul that’s going on here behind the scenes. Later.

This is supposed to be a page about my writing, the writing process, agents, editors, publishers, and all that sort of stuff. Instead, it’s a page about what it’s supposed to be about, but not actually about anything. Maybe someday soon it’ll be something. Right now is not that day. Today, it’s about nothing.

-Ronn

What’s going on around here? Said, no one.

I’m glad you asked. Let’s investigate.

Posting has been few and far between lately and I’m not sure why. I could probably figure it out, but I don’t want to dive even into the shallow end of my subconscious right now. So, I’m not going to. I don’t know why you’re getting no new content. I’ll see if I can do something about that.

I spent a good bit of time this weekend doing stuff for the arohenRPG part of the site and what that made me realize is this-I don’t want to maintain two blogs. In case you didn’t realize, when I put up the most recent roleplaying section of my site, I installed it as a separate and dedicated installation of WordPress. That was a mistake. It turns out that it was also a bit of a pain in the ass.

So, I’ve folded the RPG blog back into the main blog. This got me working on the whole category vs tag issue. I’m going to streamline the categories so that I can take advantage of a couple ideas I have. Which means the tags need to be more useful. Administratively, it’s easy enough to do, but it’s a lot like sorting your music collection by genre. It’s a slippery slope. And it’s a work in progress so it may change in entirely unexpected ways.

I’ve put a little more into the site and upgraded from the free HitMag theme for WordPress to the slightly more feature rich and customizable, HitMag Pro. Which is another reason the arohenRPG instance is merging back into the main site. The license for this ThemezHut theme is only good for one site… or rather I’m not willing to pay for the 5-site license. Besides, this will be better all around.

School is going fine. This past week was the Winter break and it’s back to the usual on Monday. Next week I have to register for Spring/Summer classes. I need 2-credits. I’ll probably take Biology, because I need a trio of science credits.

sitting in my usual seat doing my usual stuff

Nothing has been happening here on the home improvement front. It’s been too damn cold and I’m just not feeling it. But the garage is filling up with materials for upcoming projects and I’m sure the bug will get me as soon as the weather breaks.

On the family front, things are staying the course. Lady Ronn and I are doing great. The tax refund came in and she got presents. Truthfully, we both got stuff. It just sounds more philanthropic if I make it sound like it all went to her. Radio silence continues uninterrupted with one kid, one kid is tatting himself up, and one is just trying to figure out where he fits into this whole life thing. That’s all about what I expect. In big news, I’m getting a new daddy. So, that’s something.

And work is work. Though, I gotta say, I’m feeling the burnout both mentally and physically. Retirement is a LONG way off. It’s probably time to take some time off. I think I’ll save that for when the weather breaks too.

That’s it for now. Thanks for listening. Later.

This is not going to be a full review of the World Anvil site/toolset, but rather it will be a rambling bunch of first impressions of this handy tool.

Absolutely first impression, before ever going to the website, literally from just hearing about it on some webpage or YouTube video (I don’t remember which). A worldbuilding tool for authors, storytellers, and world builders made up of templates, prompts, and other assorted tools. What an awesome idea. I’ve got to check that out. And so, I did.

World Anvil for Game Masters

As expected, World Anvil is an online service for documenting imaginary worlds. It’s a sort of wiki, but with custom content templates designed for worldbuilding – things like maps, timelines, characters, settlements, locations, creatures, etc. You can simply fill out the templates or you can write articles or or or… There are probably as many different ways to use this toolset as there are people using it. I’ve just gotten started, so I’m at the beginning of the learning curve, but I’m having fun documenting my worlds.

In addition to the site itself, the World Anvil community, the World Builders Guild, has a lot going on. There are lots of tutorials, YouTube videos, a bunch of Discord servers dedicated to world building, help, and clarification. The team behind it seems dedicated to making World Anvil great and developing a strong community.

Which is good, because World Anvil has a lot going on, it is big, it is full of features, and it is more than a little intimidating to the uninitiated world builder. But you only need to use the parts you want, not using things doesn’t hurt anything. You don’t put any data in, no data shows up. You don’t get a header with a big blank canvas beneath it letting everyone know you skipped something. It just doesn’t show up. Excellent. Because some of those queries are about things I never thought about before. But they do get you thinking about them now.

There is a lot there. I’ve only just gotten my feet wet.

So, what’s the catch? How much is this going to cost? Nothing. It’s free. But like so many tools on the web, the more you give the more you get. You can pay monthly, quarterly, biannually, or yearly and choose from a few different tiers; freeman, journeyman, master, grandmaster, and most recently sage. The freeman tier is free, $0. You get all the article templates, maps, timelines, article and data exporting, 2 worlds with wo map layers per world, and 100 MB of storage space. That’s not a bad package for nothing.

I signed up for the free account on February 10th and by the 24th I realized this was a tool that I liked, and one I was going to get some use out of, so I upgraded to the Master package ($45). Then they had a sale on March 2nd to celebrate some landmark or another and I upgraded to the Grandmaster plan ($98). They charged me the sale price for the full plan, but then refunded me the original cost of my Master plan. I was not unhappy. Will I get my monies worth? I can’t say for sure that I will write enough to justify the upgrade, but I feel good knowing that I’m supporting a site and a tool that I really like.

My first impressions have been nothing but positive. There are some features I’d like to see, but for all I know they’re already there and I just haven’t found them yet. Or maybe they’re in development; this has only been a thing since June 2017. So far, I’m impressed and I’m getting inspiration for my worlds–that’s priceless.

A few things to share.
1.) Still having issues keeping the site malware free. I was  going to take it apart and restore from a back-up, but I made the mistake of thinking that the Pro Backup service that comes with my Pro package at Bluehost was actually a thing… it’s not. So I need to call them and get a few things straightened out. Mainly, I’d like to get the services that I’m paying for. I’ll probably have a full tear down on the site this weekend to find and destroy whatever malware is hiding in my files.
2.) Final grades were posted for the winter semester and I pulled off an A in each of my classes–HVA 221 Ductwork Construction and Design was the one I just finished and HVA 230 HVACR Elec Controls was earlier in the Winter Semester. Both were three credit classes, so I added another 24 grade points to my total and my GPA is sitting at 3.839, according to my Unofficial GRCC Transcript.
3.) I came home to find this on the office floor.

extinction level event?

So my fancy Tyrannosaurus statue is now in 4 pieces. It can certainly be glued back together. But how evident will the cracks be? I’m not sure. I’ve resisted the urge to immediately grab the superglue and start putting it back together… going to give it some thought and determine if it’s going to need any other work and/or improvements.
How could this happen? One theory presented was that the wind blew it over. This is unlikely given the depth of the pegs on the feet and the weight of the base. Perhaps the blinds hit it? No. The blinds are secured with brackets. What could have happened? There is some evidence that points to a solution to the mystery.
claw marks! NEW claw marks!

There are some claw marks in the paint that were not there when I left for work. Probably too small to be the dog, but just about right for a smallish cat. My working theory is that the cat was on the shelf and killed the dinosaur. Possibly with the aid of the dog or a startling wind gust. Either way and whatever the circumstances, I have one very broken dinosaur.

In the past few weeks I have been making small changes to the site. Maybe you noticed, maybe not. It’s just little things.

  • I changed the tagline. “An incomplete autobiography” is the new line. Which feels less ostentatious and more accurate to me than the old line.
  • I added the shadow box letters to the header and updated it to reflect the new tagline.
  • The macrome images have been relabeled, retagged, and a new featured image has been created to reflect the change to arohenIMAGE.
  • I added the Truckcast to the Google Play podcast database and fixed the iTunes account.
  • Links to my other web pages have been added to the main menu.
  • Logo images have been added to the footer, but no associated links have been created yet.

Like I said, it’s all small stuff that you probably skipped past without a thought. But I thought I’d give you a peek behind the curtain and see that running a website isn’t all glamour and adventure.