Monday, May 30, 2016

How to Get Away With Grinding | 4 Realizations About Hustling & Life

Like any individual, I’ve been spending my time bumping up and sending out my resume.  (Disdain ever so present to get back into someone else’s career wheel but my own.)  And yet, regardless of the change, I’ve hardened my endeavors here.  When I stepped out to share my passions over three years ago, it was to create a better future.  A future that didn't involve punching another 15 years' worth of time clocks.
But there are things that come with such positions.  Money, ambition, and your personal life turns into a juggling act.  (Though my personal life qualifies as coffee and books, thank you Jesus.)  And it's an act performed between looking for another job and your personal grind.  It’s a sticky position.  It's also a position I’m almost privy to believe not few can relate to, as I feel unaccompanied within mine.  No one I know has attempted to start a blog, YouTube channel, Zazzle store, etc.  So there’s no one I can turn to when my endeavors feel… well… insignificant to my cause.  There's no one to bounce real ideas off of.  To soak in genuine, experience-based encouragement.  As opposed to those water-downed affirming cliches and platitudes the unawares always seem to give.  And give they do, until you realize you've had enough and draw inward for your strength to keep moving.  
So alone you continue to throw the soil, plant the seeds, walk in faith.  And you have to do so in the isolation of believing in yourself.  And that’s where this post leads me to.
These are four things I’ve discovered in the position I’ve just described.  Though it applies to anyone who find resonance with the struggle of grinding out your own path in life.  So, see if you can relate...

Do  not waste my time with drama!
You don’t have the energy to listen to other people’s problems anymore–nor do you want to.  Unless it’s in the spirit of entrepreneurship, ideas, or action-taking plans, you don’t want to hear it.  If it’s not about risks, creativity, fueling ambitions, or personal transformation, you zone out of the conversation.  If it’s not about marketing, blogs, YouTube, web stores, writing, you’ll pass.   

The one caveat is family and friends’ real life issues that is easily discern as in need of your support.  As for routine gossip about people you don’t know or care about (or no longer go to battle for), you’re good where you are.  And you avoid conversations with people who are all talk and no action.  That, in itself, is sucking away your own valuable gusto to continue your fight.  Basically, the people around you better build a real case to draw your attention away from the grind.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Putting the Public Library to Use this Weekend

The book/series collector in me says, “no, no, no.”  The hungry reader says, “yes, yes, yes.”
A.     My ordered copy of Liberty Falling is slated for a June 14th delivery, instead of the May 27th that was originally tracked and posted.  This, effectively, cut me out of ever ordering books from this particular marketplace seller.  May 23: SHIPPED.  June 14: DELIVERED.  Do the math.  Or maybe I’m just tripping.  But I mean, really?  I have to wait until June 14 to get my hands on Pigeon #7?  Hell, no!  
Waiter!  I want my check!  PLEASE!  
Backstory stuck in the middle. Going about my Saturday morning (after a post office and Dollar General trip), a light bulb lit up in my brain.  Why not go to the public library and check out a copy of Liberty Falling until your personal one comes in.  Bing.  Bing.  Bing.  And take your laptop along to also get some blog post drafts together, Mr. Lazy. 
B.      As for Susan Wittig Albert’s Rueful Death, I tittered around until I decided to take it.  It’s book #5 in Albert’s China Bayles series.  I’m currently less than 90 pages away from the end of book #4, Rosemary Remembered.  And, just in case I get impatient and don’t want to order and wait for a personal copy, I grouchily took Rueful Death.  Will catch up on ordering a personal copy later.  In the meantime, China Bayles is too charming to not take home.
Oh, check it out!  I also found out I have a $3 outstanding balance at the public library.  Now where did that come from?  And when did I last use my card?  Oh…wait….  I didn’t use my card for myself last time.  I let...


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Using Canva to Create the Perfect Spreadshirt Banner Size

Okay.  So to save someone the trouble, I present to you how to create the perfect size Spreadshirt banner.  And it's all done via the online creation tool, Canva.  This is for those who want a nice banner that stretches properly over their web shop.  And not so much sitting above the fold as a box surrounded by negative space.  (Anyone else hates that?)

First.  Get into your Canva account.  Duh, right? Anyway, in the top right-hand corner is the option of creating your own dimensions.  You want that, as opposed to using the templates Canva has already prepared.  Naturally, you’ll need to input the right width and height.  Go for 1280 x 343 in pixel size.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Anna Pigeon Beat Goes ON!

Just finished the amazing Blind Descent and must gathered Anna Pigeon #7, Liberty Falling.  After all that used bookstore issues, this was an immediate choice.

Need to know what happens in the next book!

Friday, May 20, 2016

This Ever Happen to You? | Used Book Struggles

NOTE: Because of some technical issues around the image folder, I lost all the "proof" and "evidence" spoken about in this post.  And, since I returned the book, I have no way of getting it back on track.  Sorry!

Had me a good cup of coffee.  Caught up on all my TV shows (can we talk Empire and Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D?).  And was ready to take down the last 125 pages of Nevada Barr’s Blind Descent (Anna Pigeon #6).  I was getting into the reading when I reminded myself how I didn’t have the following book, Liberty Falling, in my possession.  As of late, I haven't been into reading anything but Barr's park ranger sleuthing adventures.  My momentum was going just too damn good to break; I needed to exhaust myself of Barr's shit-stirring and pessimistic Anna Pigeon character.  Besides, Barr had an overarching sub-narrative of Anna's story begging for resolution.  It's a "Damn!  What's gonna happen?  I need the next book!" situation.
Y'all know how it is! 
So what to do other than dash through upcoming rain to the used bookstore to find a copy?  Partially tattered or not, I needed Anna's next adventure.  And with an easy $5 bill tucked in my struggling wallet, I was ready to rectify my situation.
I saw this moderately decent and only available copy of Liberty Falling.  And as always in used bookstores, I flipped through it a couple of times.  I do this mostly to feel a book's handling–particularly with mass markets.  I think we all know some people can get out of control with mass markets.  Bending and breaking spines.  Dog-eared pages.  A little too much yellowing for an individual's taste.  Torn pages.  Burnt pages.  The occasion buried bookmark.  Sometimes strands of hair and food residue.  Or mysterious residue.
None.  With the exception of its age and a temperately blitzed spine, all seemed acceptable.  Workable.  Manageable, if you will.  I would grabbing a matching colored marker to "paint" over the spine's creases later.  You know, bookshelf whip appeal.  
We have a deal.  My Saturday and Sunday was set.  
$3.85 broken out of $5.
I got home to sanitize the book.  Yes, I use sanitizing wipes on used books.  Followed by a sage smudging.  And yes, I believe in spirit attachments.  I have this niggling superstition that for every used book I buy, some dead person’s relative brought his or her stack in to unload a house going up for sale.  I'm from the South.  Blame parts of my folkloric upbringing.
Anyway, I took an anxious, closer look before putting the book on my shelf as my next reading.  This is what halted me…!  And no, for whatever blind and desperately-seeking-Anna reason, I didn't notice this before buying it.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Kdrama Factor: Incomplete Life

Now the second Kdrama I’m watching is Incomplete Life.  The Korean word, per its Korean title, is misaeng.  Apparently the drama is based off a web comic by a Korean cartoonist named Yoo Tae-Ho.  The comic ran from January 2012 to October 2013.  As for Incomplete Life, it aired from October to December of 2014.  Twenty episodes even.
So what’s it about?  Twenty-something Jang Geu-Rae was once a thriving and prolific baduk player.  From his childhood forward he dedicated himself to the game.  So as an adult he stood on the threshold of becoming a professional.  He even forfeited completing high school and earning his GED to continue his passion, by sliding up in rank.  
Now this next part of his story I think I understood correctly.  Anyway, somewhere in the mix Geu-Rae's father dies, leaving just him and his mother.  Now the man of the house, Geu-Rae gives up baduk and starts working odd jobs to keep the house running.  He works as a delivery boy, bathhouse cleaner, and a convenience store clerk simultaneously.  His dad is gone, and now baduk and his education is sailing by him.  With what remains as a stream of dead end jobs, Geu-Rae is left disappointed and hurt by life. 
Then a secret–and unconfirmed as far as I’ve gotten–consociate recommends Geu-Rae into an internship with One International trading firm.  Pushed by his mother, Geu-Rae walks into the offer.

But with absolutely no education or credentials to back him up, Geu-Rae faces bullying taunts once his background is found out.  And the more he insist on pushing forward with his internship, the more he suffers navigating his way through what’s deemed the “real world.”  Yet, he has a little help along the way in the form of warmer friendships with other peers.  And when situations get too tight, he employs his strategic thinking skills developed from excelling at baduk.  This allows him to chess piece his way in and out of trouble, as he finds acceptance in the office.  As well as in himself.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Tales of the Slayer | Buffy Goodness

As one of those debut episode, long-living passionate Buffy, the Vampire Slayer fans, it goes without saying I watch the series year round.  Episode after episode (except season three’s obnoxious Xander-driven "Zeppo" episode).  Season after season.  I’m there.  I used to run through the DVD boxsets, then indulged in the convenience of watching the damn show on Netflix.  Bandwidth be damned.
I’m currently on the last four episodes of my favorite season–which would be season three.  And we all know the theme of this season: good slayer versus dark slayer.  And sure, I would love to dive into all the complexities, context, and other conversations (ha, 3 c’s) about the topic.  But it’s been done time and time again.  Nevertheless, my longing interest on the topic reverted back to the whole slayer mythology.  I’ve always, always been interested in slayers past–particularly Nikki Wood.  First, she’s a black slayer.  Second, every single thing about her was ripped out of Pam Grier's rampaging performances in 70's Blaxploitation films.  Seriously, it’s a sub-genre of film sworn to Queen Grier, and certainly an immediate source to fulfil my thirst in the black female action hero.  As opposed to her many counterparts.
But I digress.
My point is, while pondering about slayers, I realized I had the Tales of the Slayer books to go back to re-familiarize myself with many of their stories.  However, some stories I remember perfectly.  Even after years of finishing her story in one of the volumes, imprints remained.  So with a little dusting, it would be nice to dive back into the slayer fray for a tale or two.  
No, for real.  These books have been shamefully in a tote for over ten years.  Sick.  I know.
Nonetheless, let me see if I can flip through and recall some of my favorite slayer stories.  Or at least the ones better written.  Because some of the writers… well… suffered to tell a decent slayer story.  And yes, somewhere after volumes three my interest faded over the years; I never went back to get volume four.  Pitifully.  But now’s the chance to reconnect and order that SOB.  Especially because that’s the volume featuring slayers facing the Cruciamentum (those who know understand what the hell that ridiculous test is).
So.  Anybody got a favorite Slayer out there?  Comment below.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Weekend Read: Nevada Barr's Endangered Species

But we saw this coming...!

I won’t go over the excitement again.  But let’s just get to it.  Endangered Species by Nevada Barr.  Anna Pigeon #5.

This time Anna is on the Cumberland Island, off the Georgia coast.  With all its history, Anna’s there on fire presuppression duty.  But no matter how tedious it is to wait around for the potential of fire, the job pulls her into overtime.  So, it is what it is.  However, things don’t stay boring for long.  A drug interdiction plane crashes on the island, killing its only two passengers.  Once some sabotage is discovered, park ranger, Anna Pigeon, steps forward to find a killer.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Kdrama Factor: Heaven's Garden

I suppose this post is somewhat aligned with my recent take of Kevin Kwan’s second novel, China Rich Girlfriend.  Anyway, I wanted to continue writing about my current Kdrama delights.  Mostly because I took some time from watching so many dramas back to back.  And recently refreshed my viewing taste with something new to spoon 'n' sip nightly before bed.
I watch Kdramas between Hulu and Netflix–via the PS4.  Me watching dramas on the computer feels like my eyes are being cooked ten minutes into my attempts.  Nonetheless, I prefer Hulu as my main source.  Mostly because they update with new shows and episodes weekly.  Whereas Netflix gets shows all in one serialized lump a while later.  However, Netflix has ad-free benefits.  Which works for me sometimes, despite it having a smaller library of titles.  Nevertheless, Hulu recently had a ton of Kdramas (and sadly the Japanese dramas as well) streaming licenses expire.  So their library recently switched around and is now kind of pitiful compared to those glory years where I lay absorbed in all they had available.  Even most of my favorite dramas were extracted from the roster.  And some future viewing prospects simply vanished from my Watchlist que.  
Slowly, a few older and recent dramas trickled in as replacements, but no one can ignore that blunt gap left in Hulu’s catalog.  I looked at it one day, and the once seemingly endless scroll of titles was marginalized to a quarter's worth of remnants.  Yet, out of the process, here is one survivor I consider my latest obsessions.  
I should go ahead and disclaimer how this post is probably geared toward those who’re familiar with this genre of entertainment.  You know, Asian-centric melodrama to the ninth degree.  So if the story sound hooky, it’s the norm.  Although I honestly think this drama lean more toward a conceivably, realistic batch of scenarios.  (Except for the grandmother who was spirited away.)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Library Haul Hustle PART 2

Haven’t even been a full week before I found myself back at the public library’s used bookstore.  It happens, eh?  So, per usual, I have to share what I came out with.  And all three were only $2.  So let’s make this haul quick. 
Somehow I found myself in the psychology section.  I got Kay Redfield Jamison’s bestselling memoir, An Unquiet Mind.  It’s her memoir on being a doctor specializing in manic-depressive illness (or bipolar), while struggling with it herself.
Then I got another bestseller, which needs no summary.  It's The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  Finally got my hands on a copy.  And it was only .50.
After repeated trips and browsing sessions, I finally took the bait and grabbed the third book in Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak mystery series, Dead in the Water.  Having never read anything by the author, or her Alaskan-based sleuth, I’m holding on to book three as a reminder to take on the series in the future.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Oh, Yeah! This is FINALLY Happening!

So yes.  After all the moaning I did about not finding Nevada Barr's Endangered Species (Anna Pigeon #5), in town, I just shut up and ordered it.  A Barnes & Noble 20% coupon was expiring in hours, and being a member, shipping is free.  Double NO-EXCUSE!
The excitement to continue Anna's murder-solving, park ranger adventures are continuing forward.
PS: My bemoaning recent post where I mention the series is HERE.
Me waiting on Thursday, 5/12:

Sunday, May 8, 2016

I Wanna Buy This Book Butttt...

…Just about every review on Amazon claims this woman is a narcissistic.  Okay.  That's fine with me.  But then they also claim she went to court for tax evasion, stemming back from her early 2000s tax returns.  Trialed in 2010, she was convicted then subsequently deported.  Oh MY!  It actually makes me want to go back and pick the book up, though.  But the reason I point this out is because it's touted as an inspirational autobiography, but told by a woman driven by greed.
Heh.  And still I think I want to go back and get this book!
For the sake of providing a synopsis…
"When Diana Lu was three years old, her family was forced to leave their comfortable middle class life in the city to live an impoverished coal-mining village at the edge of the Gobi Desert for China s culture revolution "reeducation." Life in that remote place was a constant struggle against hunger and fear. Passionate & determined, Diana resolved to create a better life based on her own talents and dreams; she turned down prestigious job after medical school. Overcoming parental & societal objections, she explored university teaching, real estate, and other fields before finding her niche as a top executive in the optical fiber industry. In 1997 Diana moved to the United States, and launched her own international enterprise, melding the Western & Chinese business cultures to work with clients globally. Operating in a competitive, male-dominated high-tech field, she achieved astounding success from earning $30 a month in 1993 to in ten years making sales worth hundreds of millions of dollars. This inspirational book part memoir, part guidebook to personal and business success illustrates her remarkable journey."
What do you think?

Friday, May 6, 2016

Public Library Used Bookstore Hustle

While reading may be a little slow this week (spending over a week with a book that’s good, but can’t quite intercede the distractions that make up life), I’ve decided to stop over-browsing my public library’s used bookstore and actually buy something.  These two books (and many more left abandoned) have been in my hands throughout each of my visits there.  And both for good reason.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

My Top 5 Favorite Crystals & Stones

Crystals, stones, rocks, and gemstones.  One of the clearest symbolic gateways into New Age and metaphysical studies.  And as these studies and philosophies go, these minerals come charged with energetic healing properties direct from within our planet.  They’re constructed through a variety of temperatures and pressures–straight out of the Earth’s crust.  Some even emerging from cooled lava.  But as a whole, they’re comprised of compacted plant and animal life, squashed by a multitude of adjoining layers.  Heck, the first layer started probably as far back as the Paleozoic Era.  Of course certainly beyond then as well.  Nonetheless, the processing of minerals into the crystals and stones we know now are compounded with stories of life connected to the earth.  And it's these stories of life that serves us through the stone's energetic vibrations.  It sounds super esoteric at its best, I know.  But have you ever picked up a penny dated 1980, and studied it in concerns to the year it was made?  Have you ever wondered whose hand it first crossed?  What store and till it was first dropped in?  And who was the last to have slipped it into his or her pocket?  And how did it end up at your feet?  Would its previous owner even miss it?  Or need it as they come up short at his or her trip to the convenient store?  
Now take all those thoughts and imagine how for the 36 years that penny has been in existent, each time it changed hands it sipped something energetic from its handler.  Then imagine how holding that penny makes you feel?  Sad?  Happy?  Alive?  Where do those feelings come from?
That's how I believe crystals work.  Except you're holding something harboring energy from the earth from possibly over 252 million years ago!
Now I don’t claim to have a handle on the subject of crystals/stones and their energetic vibrations.  However, placebo effect or not, I do appreciate the gesture that comes with believing in the power of crystals.  And like many things I appreciate, I've come to research as much as I can to discover how close are the theories true for myself.  So I won't sit here and claim to have all the answers, especially when some of my research has led me to believe I don’t always work closely enough with my crystals for them to be effective, exactly.  So if any progress has arrived over the years, it's probably more subtle than I've come to realize.  
However, I like them.  Some I’ve been carrying in a pouch in my pocket for four years.  Some I occasionally pile underneath my pillow at night.  And when it comes to cleansing, I give them the proper sea salt bath before allowing them to dry in direct sunlight.  Others, I smudge to “reset” their vibrational frequency after a long day of absorbing others’ energy myself.
Researched and accepting of their individual purposes in fulfilling my personal intents over the years, here are my Top 5 Favorite Crystals & Stones that I never leave home without.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Deserving a Re-Read? Victoria Beckham's Learning to Fly

So I was digging through my tote of older books–as in books with zero chance of acquiring some real estate on my shelves–and came across this one.  It’s been a good ten years since I read Victoria Beckham’s autobiography, Learning to Fly.  And this minor rediscovery comes begging for me to read her story again.  As in a little sooner than now.  I mean, really.  Posh Spice was and always will be my favorite Spice Girl. 


So while my R. L. Stine Fear Street series won’t find its way out of that tote any time soon, and nor will all those old middle school reads, I kind of think Posh wins the bid for a space on the shelves.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

My Kim Harrison Reads Are Suffering...

If only I could find my way back to this series.  Especially considering it ended back in 2014.  You'd think I would run to wrap it up–you know, having read 9 out of the 13 books in the series.  But I just can't seem to get with Rachel Morgan again.  Yet, as this post may indicate, she keeps crossing my mind.  Over and over again.  Her voice speaks from the bookshelf grave, asking me to pick up book 10.  And actually get past the first twenty pages.  The echo of her voice is desperate for me to finish her bounty hunter/witch/demon story.  I sigh in a mix of pain and relief of my escape.  But I'll never forget those 2007 afternoons where I had an hour or two between school and work.  I would sit down at McDonald's and read these books.  Actually, I would gobble them up!  If only Rachel spent a little less time negotiating over her hormones, then things would've turned out differently.
Oh well.  Maybe this summer I'll finally pick up the series where I (swiftly) jumped ship from.  And... well... try again.  Maybe with a glass of wine to go along with the reading.  A sip for every occasion Rachel slobs all over herself over a shirtless man.  Who happens to be an elf-thing.  Who happens to be a killer somehow in need of the reader's sympathy.  The details get fuzzy as the years go by, but the inner ache remains the same.
Aw, hell.  Forget that noise!  Maybe I'll try again when I have nothing else available to read.  (Ah, let's go to Barnes & Nobles and order books today!)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Getting the Hang of Zazzle

I’ve been going up the wall lately on optimizing a controlled and organized Zazzle store.  Before products were arranged in any and all kinds of order.  This left visitors scrambling all over the store.  Which isn't good!  Even I came frustrated with the disarray I’d created.  Added to my organizing, I’ve also been reviving the color of my original uploads from 2012.  A few color correcting techniques in the drawing process have stepped up since 2012.  So the difference from then and now were a little too noticeable for me to ignore.  
I wouldn’t call it grueling, but I’ve been up until like 4am all weekend redoing all my previous faults.  I think we've all been there, where it's late but we tell ourselves just one more action before we sleep.  Then one action leads to ten.  
So here are a few of my considerations to optimizing a fresh Zazzle store.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Another Abandoned Series I Haven't Licked

In Me Trilogy Order
I’m ashamed I’ve collected, but haven’t completed, the In Me trilogy by Kathleen O’Neal Gear.  If you’re not familiar with Gear, she and her husband, W. Michael Gear, co-authored fiction and non-fiction books surrounding Native American history.  Or, to be specific, the First North Americans.  Which is the title of the couple’s most popular and long-running historical fiction series.  On occasion the two step out and write books alone, and this is where the In Me trilogy came from Kathleen.  It’s a trilogy that has always caught my eye, while shelving them on bookstores.  However, it would be years later when I spent a night fighting a tipsy disposition before I actually finished the first book.  Yet, I'm sad to say, the following two books hibernated on my shelf thereafter.  I simply never made it back.  And I say so despite really enjoying the first book.  I guess it was a situation of never wanting to spoil a debut's magic.
Nevertheless, the series is about a young High Chieftess name Sora.  She’s the head of a Native American tribe called the Black Falcon Nation.  Sora, described as extraordinarily beautiful and desirable, was married to a warrior named Flint.  Flint was a warrior who would kill men with even the slightest glance toward his wife.  So with a possessive and territorial rage uncontrolled, Flint divorces Sora and moves back to his original clan.

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