Friday, December 21, 2007

Where, Oh Where Has My JASmius Gone, Oh Where, Oh Where Can He Be....?

I'm still here. I'm just still recovering from the long, dark tunnel that was this recently concluded budget season. I'm also more of a creature of habit than I remembered, or perhaps was even aware of.

That's the nature of an externally imposed change in one's daily routine. It seems temporary at first, but after awhile the change becomes the routine. You get used to the new situation, adjust to it, and soon forget, at least consciously, about the status quo it replaced.

When I first ventured forth into the wonderful world of blogging three and a half years ago, I had all the time in the world to indulge that passion. My day job, as compared to what it is now, was orders of magnitude simpler and both less burdensome and less stressful. I had ample time on breaks, as well as ample time on evenings and weekends, to commentate away to my heart's content. And the timing - coming into the home stretch of the 2004 presidential campaign - was golden. I rummage through the archives from that period and marvel at my wit and perspicacity (if I do say so myself).

After 2004 the day job started to change. Or, more specifically, expand, as in beyond the original parameters of the one for which I interviewed and which I accepted. The workload, hours necessary to fulfill it, and concommitant stress level, rose malignantly. The effect manifested itself here by the dwindling of my posting output, both in quantity and quality of content as well as frequency.

Oh, yes, there have been ebbs and flows. As recently as last spring I resolved to get back to the level of the early days, and did enjoy some success. But that resolution got bludgeoned by the Seven Weeks Of Vocational Hell, and even now that they've passed (for now), I find myself unable to focus on blogging like I used to, either years ago or mere weeks.

Not even on days off. That leads into another drain on blogging time and focus that didn't exist in days gone by: my family. Between my father-in-law passing away back in February and my mother-in-law's infirmity and ultimate move closer to where we live, and the hassles and burden of trying to manage her affairs and the disposition of the estate that have afflicted Mrs. Hard Starboard, to the awareness it raised in my mind about my own septuaginarian parents, to my son's behavioral and academic problems, to simply having a teenage daughter (and one who is obsessed with getting her learner's permit, thence to driver's ed, thence to a driver's license, thence to a new level of paternal worry - and that doesn't even figure dating into the equation), there are more than sufficient distractions around Hard Starboard Galactic HQ to crowd mere commentating on the onrush of events that could determine the future of humankind on this planet out of sight, and thus out of mind.

Then there's all the to-do list stuff that continues to languish. Home repairs (several doorposts, no hot water in our shower, a new kitchen floor, putting a roof and walls on our deck to make a "rumpus" room, a storage shed, disposing of a seemingly ever larger quantity of boxes and other deritus that clutter our laundry room, the aforementioned deck, and have spilled out onto our front porch), non-critical "homework" from the office that I haven't been able to get to, routine household finance work that remains to be done, and a couple of CPE courses I have to order and complete by the end of next week. Indeed, much of this list is on the list because of my frustrated attempts to keep up with blogging over recent months. As the old saying goes, there just aren't enough hours in the day.

And my body is making me invest more of them than I'd like in sleeping. I just can't burn the midnight oil like I used to. Time was, going clear back to my college days, when I could easily get by on six hours of sleep a night. Rare was the evening that I went to bed before midnight. Like my father, I was a classic "nightowl," only whereas dear old Dad would sit up until two in the morning reading Popular Mechanics and listening to his police scanner (which he still has, BTW), or in more recent years watch tapes of aircraft programs on cable, I would be clackity-clacking away at this keyboard, contributing my own unique take on the world and its events to which our vast and loyal readership has (or HAD) grown addicted. But not anymore; nowadays when I get home I can already barely keep my eyes open, and as often as not am asleep within half an hour of coming in the front door. All but one night this week I didn't even make it to nine o'clock. Which is most of why I'm up at this ungodly cow-milking hour clickety-clacking away on nothing to do with the Earth-shaking place-takings of the day. Besides, I'll never have time once I get to the office, and I'll probably fall asleep on the way home tonight.

And as if all of the above wasn't depressing enough (at least to my still-functioning blogging compulsion), you have no doubt noticed the technical problems we've been experiencing for months, both in the incessant crashing of the main page (You have to click your browser's "stop" button after the posts load) and the inability of most of my graphics to load. Actually, the "fix" to the crashing problem partially negates the graphics problem by truncating the full loading of the sidebar, which suggests that the crashing problem is caused by conflicting scripts somewhere therein. A conflict I suppose I could find if - drumroll, please - I had the time to tear it apart and determine just exactly what is conflicting with what. Which, of course, I do not have, which is why the problem has persisted. Oh, I've tried to contact the good folks at Google and beg for suggestions as to how to fix either or both problems; but, of course, Blogger is a free service, and as in most things in life, you get what you pay for.

So what is the solution to all these problems? How should I know? Arrogant pagan "science" hasn't quite fabricated a "unified field theory" that explains everything and ties together all the unsolved mysteries of the cosmos; how could I arrogate to myself a remedy that would restore temporal balance to my life, get my fat ass back on this site pixelating like I'm capable of, and make the site itself work like it's supposed to?

The first two are irresolvable unless you remove the need for sleep and earning a living from the equation. Well, okay, if I could earn a living FROM blogging, that would be a solution - but we can't all be Ed Morrissey. But as to the last issue, one of my old bosses had a saying: "When the going gets tough, EXPAND!"

Or, in this case, upgrade. As in migrate Hard Starboard from Blogger to a different host (one I'd have to actually pay for), with our own honest-to-goodness domainname (no frakking "blogspot" in the URL), on honest-to-goodness Moveable Type v. 4.0. A move I have contemplated on several occasions over the past few years, but never bothered actually pursuing because there wasn't any overt need for it. Until now, that is.

You see where this is headed, don't you? I have next week off, and nine uninterrupted days of freedom sound like a lot, which is why they always end up half-overloaded and entirely squandered as everything I plan to do during the typical week off gets procrastinated into limbo by sleep and the sheer joy and release of the absence of stress (or immediately proximate stress, anyway). Relaxation from the frenetic regimentation of my professional (and increasingly, family) life to me means its diametric opposite - do nothing. Which is incompatible with finishing "homework," dispatching two CPE courses, rebuilding a full blogging regimen, taking my daughter out to finish her Christmas shopping (and do some belated Christmas shopping of my own) and - MAYBE - get her her learner's permit, if only so I can laugh uncontrollably at her first attempts to drive a standard transmission, catching up on the towering mound of home receipt data entry, ANNNNNND obtaining new digs for this once and future (?) Empire Of The Mind. And besides, Mrs. Hard Starboard always gives me grief whenever I try to relax anyway, evidently out of a heartfelt devotion to the axiom that misery both loves and DEMANDS company.

I don't honestly know how long it would take to carry out the migration. But it appears that I no longer have a choice if we want to have a blog that actually works, and in that context I would like to have it up and running by the dawn of 2008.

That's not a promise - not yet, anyway. But the eventual new URL will be, and everything should work again.


A pity regaining my blogging stamina won't be even this easy.