How to avoid writing

I avoid writing. I always have. In grade school, I drove my teachers crazy. In high school, it was worse. I openly rebelled at any suggestion that I was a good writer. I had a journalism class in my junior year of high school and really connected with the teacher (I am not naming names to protect the innocent from my poor memory). I enjoyed the class and the teacher must have brought something out in me, because I ended up writing for the school paper. However, without that teacher’s influence, things didn’t go so well.

My relationship with my senior English teacher was a bit different. I clashed with him constantly. It always seemed like this teacher had it out for me and I never understood why, despite the fact that he pretty much flat out told me: I didn’t try hard enough. There were other students who would get worse grades than me on tests and assignments, but had better averages. He told me that I didn’t perform up to my potential and he would hold me to a different yardstick.

Now, I knew I was lazy. Admittedly, I had fallen behind and when I met with the teacher near the end of the year, he painted a grim picture of my chances for passing his course. If I failed senior English, I wouldn’t be walking down the graduation isle with my class. He told me that it all rested on the grade of my final paper, a historical biography. He made it clear: I needed an A. I pulled out all the stops and spent hours at the library doing research on my subject, Ludwig van Beethoven. He gave me a B+ … I flunked senior English … didn’t graduate with my class. What a jerk!

The summer school teacher that I had while missing senior week and most of that summer couldn’t believe that someone with my writing ability had flunked high school senior English. Most of his students were drop-outs, so he didn’t generally get many good writers coming through his classes. He was teaching competency in English. I was much more proficient than most of his GED and tutoring students. In the crystal ball of hindsight, I view my senior English teacher’s strong-armed tactics in a slightly different light. I truly think he was trying to wake me up. He was still a jerk about it, but I think he was trying to tell me something. I know my mom will disagree with that point.

Fast forward to college, where I never did poorly in English. It was one of my stronger subjects throughout most of my start-and-stop college career. I had an English professor early on tell me that she thought I was a pretty good writer. I ended up with a B in the class and she told me that I may have even gotten an A, had I bothered to read course material. Ahem. 

Fast forward again – post tech school Associate’s degree … post dropping out of music school … post dropping out of Penn State (yeah, I have history). I decided to take some online courses with the intent of finishing my Bachelor’s degree. I was pretty motivated at the time and was really focused on getting good grades. In tech school, I preformed well and I got used to excelling in my studies. I carried this enthusiasm through to my first formal class in a long time, English. I ended up just crushing it. Every paper, every assignment, class forum discussions, team assignments – everything. I just poured myself into it and was rewarded with top marks and encouraging feedback from my teacher. On top of that, I was having fun writing again. Go figure.

At the end of the course, the teacher contacted me and told me that I was one of her best students ever and wondered what my career path was. I told her that I was pursuing a degree in technical management. She responded that she felt like that was a huge mistake and urged me to consider a career in teaching English and writing. I was a bit shocked at the time. I had never really considered myself a “writer”. I mean, I could write, but not “write”, right? Besides, what would I write about? I mean, I always had a lot to say, but who would want to hear it? I dismissed the idea of writing and instead chose to continue to focus on my Information Technology career. Or to try to focus on IT is a better way of putting it. Unfortunately, the more time I spent working for large corporations doing non-creative things, the more I became convinced that I had no place in that world.

So, I toyed with doing something creative with my life for years, and sometimes, my thoughts turned to writing. I thought about trying blogging, the new journalism, but I had trouble settling on one topic, so I just never started. That is the trouble with starting new things: You actually have to start. Oh, I had ideas for fiction that I did move on, but they didn’t exactly come out as prose. The first was a comedy scene about a tough guy who finds his girl in a compromising situation and ends with someone getting shot with a bb gun. I originally imagined it as a movie scene, but I wasn’t going to start mailing out scripts or anything. So, I did the next best thing. I turned it into a blues song. Hence the title Big Black BB Gun. Here it is, if you’d like to hear it. Parental warning, this is about an adult theme, but the only “bad word” is the grown-up word for “butt”. It’s really pretty mild, but just thought I’d give a heads up. If you listen to the words, you can hear the kernel of fiction writing in there:

Later I came up with an idea for a novel. No. A trilogy! I know. Ridiculous. Well, I already told you the rest of that story in my second post, which can be found here – How did I get here? if you need to read it.

That brings us up to speed. At least it brings me back to my current excuse for not writing, which I started alluding to a few posts ago: I am easily distracted. No, that’s not quite right. I am easily waylaid by the highwayman of creativity. A good example of this is what happened when I started writing my last post, An Overdue Update; parts 1 and 2. In the midst of writing, I decided to check the recording of Ride one last time before putting it online. That one action sent me careening down the rabbit hole. Six days later, I finally emerged with fresh mixes and masters of both Ride and O7O. Then I got back to writing those posts.

It’s not that I intended to do that. It’s just what happened when I went in to tweak one thing. That reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: “Art is never finished, only abandoned”Leonardo da Vinci (I mis-attributed that quote to Van Gough for years). I will tweak and adjust things almost obsessively. Experimentation is part of the process, which is why I get so lost when making music or doing graphics, but I still need to work writing in. That is why I decided to start writing daily.

Besides the fact that I need the “exercise” of daily writing, it has become apparent that I need the routine to write at all effectively. That seems to include blogging and writing fiction. Without structure, I will make any excuse not to write, including distracting myself with things that are more immediately satisfying. I have been telling myself that it’s been ok to focus on music and graphics because it will be easier for me to make a living sooner with those two pursuits, but I have been neglecting writing because of that. I can’t do that, because writing is an essential piece of my puzzle. It ties everything together and will help me market myself, and my other skills. It’s also pretty therapeutic.

Writing fiction is a whole different set of challenges for me. I do need to get back to the long form stories that I have started, but I also need to figure out how to integrate writing fiction into my routine without sapping too much energy away from freelance creative enterprises I am starting. The problem with creative writing, especially since my story ideas are novel length, is the same one I have with music and graphics. I throw myself into it. I get lost in it. Especially when I write fiction … when I am outlining a plot, or sitting down and writing scenes, time has no meaning. I think it may be even worse than music. Well … its close. The other thing is that as far as generating income, writing long-form fiction is as effective as hopping up and down on a rock in the forest on one foot all day. In the rain.

So in order to balance my creative endeavors better, Not only am I going to try to make writing part of my daily schedule, I am going to try writing first before I do anything else (besides research). No, that doesn’t mean I will be updating my blog on a daily basis. In fact, this article has been written over two days (and edited and proofread over a third and forth). However, I should be making more regular updates. Feel free to hold me accountable if I’m not blogging.

So that’s the latest plan. I am reviewing my outlines to determine what fiction project I want to pick up first. In addition, I will also try to finish writing for the day by noon, then move on to other work. Of course, that plan could go right down the drain when I get into a story, or a song, or … Well, I have to allow myself some time to be obsessive.

In the mean time, I’d love to hear from you. Please drop me a line and let me know what you think so far. Any comments are welcome, please use the comment section below. Even if you just want to tell me that I use italics too much, or that you hate my use of parenthesis, or to tell me that I have no clue about colons, drop me an email (jackmathers01@mac.com). Also, if there is a particular topic you’d like to see me write about. Let me know!

An Overdue Update (part 2) Design

Welcome to Part Two.  If you missed part 1, Music, you can find it here. In this post, I am going to tell you about SylverWyrm Designs and my first two T-shirt releases. First, I feel like I should address the dragon in the room. This name … SylverWyrm. What does it mean?

Let’s take the second part first – wyrm. It is a word for dragon, usually associated with the European variety. The term wyrm usually implies adult or mature dragon. I guess you could say that dragons are my spirit animal. The first bit is because I always liked silver better than gold as a metal. In D&D, the gold dragons were more powerful, but I always liked the silver ones better, and they could shoot lightning! Wow, letting my geek cred show, yo. But I’m not the only one, because using “silverwrym” as a user name was almost never an option on any web site, even back in the early days of the inter-web. Instead, I borrowed “Sylver” from my favorite D&D character, Sylverious. Sylverious is a high level Mage/Ranger who was raised by wood elves … so sorry. I may have to write a story about him some time.

Anyway, when I decided to use SylverWyrm as a brand, I realized that I needed a logo for both SylverWyrm Productions and SylverWyrm Designs. I had always toyed around with turning the S in SylverWyrm into a dragon. I think it came out looking better than I had hoped when I finally finished it. So good, I decided to make it into a t-shirt:

SW Tee

Available in 5 colors and many sizes

Click here to purchase this T-shirt from Amazon

 

This is the version that I am selling at the moment. I may change over to SW Designs or perhaps something else in the future, so get them while they last. Xmas is coming, and isn’t it always great to have to explain what the heck your cool but obscure t-shirt is all about? “I know this guy who is a music producer.” Yeah, I am actually calling myself that. Sheesh.

Speaking of obscure t-shirts …

Remember sitting on your grandma’s back step on a summer day so hot that your Chucks were in danger of sticking to the blacktop? The only relief – ice cold rivulets of watermelon juice running down your chin. Then, the inevitable seed spitting contest started … I miss the seeds. If this doesn’t ring a bell, go play Call of Duty or something. Otherwise, this shirt may give you a chuckle:

 

Melon Tee

Available in 5 colors and Men’s and women’s sizes

 

Click here to purchase this T-shirt from Amazon

 

Well, those are the first two designs, more to come. The shirts are 100% cotton and very soft. I can have ten designs on Amazon at once and I will probably off-load to another printing company if I have any more than that, or if anyone just HAS to have a SylverWyrm hat or a Watermelon coffee mug. I have other designs in the works. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

Also, just to get the word out, I will (and hope to) do commission and freelance work. If you, or anyone you know needs any help with design, logo, layout, webpage design, or most graphic arts, music production, guitar, bass, vocals, voice overs, drum programming, sound design, beat production, mixing, mastering, most other music related stuff, copy writing, copy editing, or blogging – put them in touch with me. I’ll be breaking out a separate website in a few weeks.

I’d also be willing to come to your location to diagnose and solve your computer and network woes if you are local to the Philly area.

I haven’t done any creative writing lately, as I have been concentrating on other things. I do intend on getting back to it soon, and my next post will be all about writing – blog and creative – and how I need to try to integrate it into my routine now that I have SylverWyrm Productions and SylverWyrm Designs up and running.

An Overdue update (part 1) Music

SW Banner SC Long

I know, it’s been almost two months. What can I say? I get distracted. Life keeps coming at you. Sometimes, my family life seems to spill into just about every opportunity to work. This isn’t even close to true, honestly. The real problem is that the work that I gravitate towards tends to suck me in and leaves little room for other things when I am being productive. Or even when I am not being productive. Yeah, that happens too, but I think with art and invention, the net result justifies any dead ends you may have to explore. It’s all part of the process.

But productive I have been, and I think the net results are encouraging so far. It’s show and tell time. I have spent the last two months sharpening both my music production and graphic design skills.

The time I spent making music was about work flow. I already had most of the skills in that area that I required, but I really needed to convert processes that I had historically stumbled through into something more automated and streamlined.

Ride is an older song that I decided to re-record with fresh ears and way better hardware and software than I had available in the early 2000’s when the song was originally recorded. I tracked the instrumental parts of the current iteration sometime in the spring (2017) and went back for a listen about the time of my last post (mid-July).  I messed about with the original mix, but the vocals I put down made me queasy. I don’t usually like my voice anyway, so that is no surprise. I just muted the tracks and hummed along with the instruments as I played with elements such as instrument levels, automation and effects. Interestingly as I did, I came up with another vocal melody – an alternate to the song’s original.

When I un-muted the original vocal and sang the new part with it, I knew I had something that was going to change this old song forever, hopefully for the better. I re-recorded all of the vocal parts and didn’t hate the result. What’s more, I got a very streamlined workflow going by the time I had finished tracking the vocals, and what I ended up with sounded pretty polished, and dare I say it – commercial. That result is SylverWyrm Productions first official Pre-release:

 

 

Yes, because you are special, you get to hear it first, here, for free. I hope you liked it. Heck, I just hoped you listened to it.

Because we are now such good friends (and yeah, we probably are if you are still reading along), I am going to give you a Twofer. Yes a SECOND Pre-release, right on top of the first. This is more the direction I am writing these days. It’s an Electronic Dance Music (EDM) number featuring no one in particular. This song came together pretty quickly and I tried to be efficient and organized as I worked. I wanted this song to be organic and original, so I didn’t use any presets – choosing instead to build almost all of the sounds from the ground up. The vocal samples that I used are from Apple’s loop library  and they just caught my ear as I was browsing for sounds. I suppose you would put it in the House or Deep House or perhaps Dubhouse (I may have just made that up. Nope. Thank you, Google for ruining my delusions once again) category:

 

I hope you enjoyed that as well. Please feel free to let me know what you think of either or both songs, even if my singing makes you queasy.

So, you may be wondering what releasing means and why I’m doing it. Well, it’s basically self-publishing. I am going to be paying a fee to have a company distribute my music to iTunes, Spotify and a bunch other music services. Every time my music gets downloaded or even played, I’ll get some money. What’s more, once a song is in the wild, all sorts of good things can happen. Examples of this are getting a movie, TV or commercial placement, or getting a song sampled.

As far as these two songs being PRE-releases … they are still under the distribution radar for now, BUT, Soundcloud (the current host) only has lower quality MP3s and they make you download an app if you want to stream to a device … Meh. And, I won’t get paid. After the official release you will be able to add these songs to your iTunes or Spotify (Or Amazon, etc …) playlists and when my song gets played, I get paid. You don’t even have to buy it. Neat. I am still deciding on distribution services, so stay tuned.

As a THIRD bonus, I am adding a bit of a puzzle. The second song’s title O7O has a hidden meaning. The first blog subscriber to decode it and get back to me with the right answer will score a highly stylish and soon-to-be sought after SylverWyrm Productions T-Shirt!

Oh. You didn’t know about the t-shirts and SylverWyrm Designs? Okay, well, if you want to know about them, I’ll be debuting them in the next post.You have been so nice to read and listen so far, I don’t want to overwhelm you, so I decided to make the SylverWyrm Designs post separate. Besides (spoilers!) that post is pretty much a sales pitch for selling t-shirts. Don’t worry, you can read it right away if you like.

Back to music. These are just the first two songs, released as singles. I am seriously considering releasing an entire album of undistributed material in the very near future while I work on new projects. I will most likely continue to just release singles after that as they come off the grill.

 

Look for Part 2 here

Where do I go from here?

Double Rainbow on my birthday

Double rainbow on my birthday over Oxford

TL;DR section at bottom. (That means: Too long; didn’t read, mom)

Thanks for coming back. In my first post – here – I told you that I had decided to give up IT, which may or may not have made you ask the question: What will he do now? To answer, let me backtrack about a year (Yes, a flashback!) to an article I that I read in the Penny Hoarder.   I couldn’t find the precise article, but the core of it was a listing of jobs that people could do to make money from home. The site has a lot of frugal living and money-making ideas that range from coupon clipping hacks to getting started with your own business. It’s not a bad site and it has some good articles, even if there is a bit of a click-bait vibe to it at times.

I can do that!

I recall that article made a bunch of suggestions that perked me up from the funk that I had been in at the time. It seemed to me that nearly every suggestion connected in some way with my skills and interests. One suggestion was to submit to stock photo houses. Hey, I am pretty good with a camera. I could do that. The article referenced some freelancing sites like freelancer.com and fiver.com. If you had skills with photoshop, you could also do freelance web and logo design. Hmmm, I have been a Photoshop user for years. I could do that! Another suggestion was to start a voice-over business if you have a decent microphone and can use recording software. Hey! I already have a bunch of mics and I’m good at recording things.. I have a voice! I can do that, too. The article included another tip, writing a blog (What would I write about?) and copy writing. (And who would care to read it?) Well, I could do those too if push came to shove. I mean, there was that novel idea I had a few years back, but I was never going to get back to writing. It had been too long to start that crap up again. Still, I was becoming convinced that there were options for me other than staying in IT.

Unexpected encouragement

Fast forward to Christmas of 2016. It was leading up to what promised to be a very normal, pleasant holiday for my family (And it was … don’t worry!). I was fully expecting my contract with Gore to end at any moment (I ended up getting extended for six more months), and had already decided when the axe fell to see if I could live life as a freelancer. My lovely wife and I were deciding how to spend the funds we had rationed out for each kid’s present when I mentioned seeing an ad for Masterclass, which I suggested for our daughter, Rhiannon. She takes after her father in that she is also the creative type, and Masterclass has programs in photography, singing, acting, music production, cooking, and even writing.

After looking over the website and agreeing that it seemed like a good idea for a present, my wife added that I should consider taking the novel writing course, which was taught by noted author James Patterson. I was a bit shocked at the time, and when I expressed that, Debbi told me that she still thought about the idea for a fantasy novel that I had a few years ago. That’s all the encouragement I needed. The James Patterson course also had a contest that ran yearly, in which the winner would get a chance to actually write a book with JP. Cool, a deadline. Well, I was a little thin at the time, so I put off signing up for the course until after Christmas. That meant I would only have a month in order to watch the videos and write a thousand word chapter. No worries. It wasn’t like I had a chance to win, but I liked the thought.

Some light exercise

In the intervening month, I decided that I should stretch my writing muscles, so I thought I’d start with something light, like the first chapter of my fantasy novel trilogy. No pressure. I sat at my computer to start, feeling a bit silly that the first thing that I was attempting to write was such a huge undertaking, but soon the words came … and kept coming. Three days later, I was looking at a little under forty-five hundred words. I kept re-reading it (and of course editing it), not really believing that I had written all that. It wasn’t a completely alien feeling though. It happens all the time when I am recording music … you just start creating and out comes this product that is way bigger than you had intended. Still, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we? Just because you and your wife and mom like it means nothing, right? And I couldn’t use this chapter for the contest, either. I wouldn’t want to give up creative control of this story if I won. I needed something just for this contest.

I obsessively scoured the rules: The submission had to be an original, and in James P’s style and genre, with a two sentence hook to entice the reader. I hardly ever read that genre and never really had an interest in writing it, but I started trying to think of a story anyway. I wanted it to be something that was capable of getting attention and eventually I came up with a short story that could be an opening to a thriller novel. The scene I came up with involves a network security analyst who is being distracted at work by a not-so-nice dominatrix. I chose not to include it on this blog for reasons that will become clear below, I think.

I took the Patterson writing class in record time, which wasn’t hard to do. The segments are all about fifteen minutes or less. The content offered good advice about writing that you can probably get for free on any basic writing website and preached Patterson-endorsed methods for writing a novel, like always using an outline (Which I prefer for things like long stories anyway). But I found the real value of the lectures were the inspirational messages, as well as the anecdotal examples that Patterson gave from his own and other’s writing. I think it gave me a real insight into his writing “mind”.

After devouring the course, I was anxious to get started on my story idea. I ended up cranking it out in about 6-7 hours. I thought I’d be cute, and deliberately made it exactly nine hundred and ninety-nine words. I thought it was strong: It had a killer opening line and told an interesting story, but it ended up being a lot racier than I intended. I was done two weeks early. I read it over and over, making minor changes here and there (still keeping it the same length) but couldn’t find any holes in it. I sat on it for two weeks, waiting to find some reason why it was horrible, why I shouldn’t bother submitting it. I had hardly written anything in years, much less fiction. I let my wife and some others read it and they liked it, not objecting to the adult nature, and being very supportive. Still, it’s hard to know if I was getting objective opinions. I eventually convinced myself that it was at least passable and the raunchy content just might get some attention for being brazen. I submitted it just at the deadline, trying to not think too much more about it. Here is the hook that I used:

 A beautiful dominatrix kindles Jim’s erotic imagination and is a nice diversion from his boring life as an IT security analyst at a bank. But she tricks Jim into compromising his employer, and now he must track down the enigmatic Miss V before he loses more than just his job.

If anyone would like to read it, let me know and I’ll send it to you. You have been warned about the content!

I love it when a plan comes together

Without getting into the story too deeply, mostly because it is a subject that I will revisit later, I ended up being chosen as a semi-finalist in the contest. I was pretty stunned. I knew that at the very least there were a few thousand entrants, and my chapter had been chosen by JP himself. Unfortunately, I didn’t advance to the finals, but still, this was a huge confidence builder for me. That’s really big, because confidence is not something that comes easily for me. Really. No, seriously. I know I can seem really cocky and … Arrogant?! You think I’m arrogant? Well, that is just going too far. Anyway, I am probably not nearly as self confident as I seem, and those closest to me can surely vouch for that particular brand of neurosis, which pretty much means the opposite of self-confidence. I am given to understand it’s a writer thing.

Being selected as a semi-finalist gave me confidence that I could reasonably add this most important piece to the list of things that I can already do (albeit with vary degrees of expertise). I’m a writer! That means I can write. And if I can write, I can provide real content, and not have to rely only on picking up scraps freelancing. Now, a plan started coming together: I would blog. Good blogs generate money through ads and affiliate links – by generating content, and therefore, traffic. There are quite a few ways of “monetizing” your site after that.

But before I start raking in any advertising or affiliate revenue, I needed a theme, and I think I have one that makes a huge amount of sense – self-sufficiency. You may have already guessed that from the title. I am going to be blogging about learning new things and documenting my experiences learning them. There are some things that I will explore that I have little or no experience in, such as carpentry. I want this skill. I need this skill. There are other things I want to get better at as well, such as cooking and photography. Gardening and home food production are other areas into which I intend to delve. This blog will also loosely be about my pursuit of being able to make an independent living in the twenty-first century.

Blogs are great, but this is the YouTube age, and those who don’t vlog, perish, so I will also be working towards creating a YouTube channel. We will see. I still have a lot of groundwork to lay. I have a few other projects in mind as well, related to some of the above subjects. It all ties together nicely.

TL;DR

Here is what I have so far:

  • The Adventures in Self-sufficiency blog (Soon with ads and affiliate links! Yay!)
  • Freelance music stuff (recording, consulting, etc)
  • Freelance voice-overs
  • Freelance copy writing
  • Freelance graphic design and photography
  • Tee-shirts! (Hey, why not? It’s easy to set up and if I come up with some clever, original designs – Ca-CHING! Got a funny/cute/cool/niche T-shirt idea? Hit me up!)
  • Possible spin off blog/vlog on cooking (Not sure if it belongs in the ASS blog — haha, just saw that)
  • Top-secret product research (Related to a topic previously mentioned)
  • Two fiction novels (Ok, one is actually a trilogy)
  • NOTHING POLITICAL

Ok, so those are the ideas. I think that is everything. I am probably leaving something out. I will likely come up with other ideas as I go along.

First things first – I am going to create an “Adventures in Self Sufficiency” Facebook page (An ASS page. Hmm, maybe I should change the name) so that anyone who doesn’t care to see my blog announcements, won’t. I won’t hold it against you if you don’t follow the page. After that, I will be starting the “real” blog posts, the ones that have ad and affiliate links and are meant to attract what is called “organic” traffic. That is basically traffic from people who are actively searching for your content. Don’t worry, I am not depending on my friends and family for traffic and clicks – but if you want to turn people on to my site, I would appreciate it. I have several affiliates in mind and I am waiting for approval, so look for some theme based content soon. Still so far to go and so much to do!

Keep an eye out for my FB group announcement if you’d like to join. Feel free to drop me a line if you’d like to say hi, or have any comments. Thanks for reading!

How did I get here?

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Thanks for the birthday wishes, and thanks for taking a look at my blog. This is not only my birthday, but it’s a kind of crossroads in my life, and I’d like to share it with you. Friday, my employment contract ended. Now, it’s not only my birthday, it’s the first day of my unemployment. I’ve been in IT now for nearly 20 years, and I have decided that it’s time to part ways with this career path. So, yeah, that’s a pretty big announcement. You may find yourself asking how I got here and where am I going to go from here. Or you may not be asking either of those questions, in which case, thanks for stopping by.

As to how I got here, that is pretty easy to explain. I am a creative type who got into IT because that money was good and it was a dependable career. Right out of tech school, I got a job with a now-defunct camera store called Mid-City Camera (In the newly created Digital Direct digital imaging division) on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. I was one of the computer techs and it was there that I got my first real exposure (yeah, I went there) to digital photography and image editing and processing. After a brief stint of teaching computer repair at a now-defunct electronics school, I started my real IT career.

I found myself contracting for Citibank at a location in Delaware. I did well and pretty soon, another opportunity arose with Wyeth, a now-defunct pharmaceutical company. Wow. I’m old. Well, to be honest, Wyeth didn’t close, it got acquired and sold for scrap. Anyway, I got there just as the IT bubble burst and sort of got stuck in a well-paying, but go-nowhere position. Well, ok – part of the reason it went nowhere was probably my attitude. I found that corporate America didn’t think like me. Or perhaps, I didn’t think like them. After the merger, I was quickly thrown to the scrap heap, with a nice severance package. I was really quite ready to give up on IT back then, but a friend of mine, Doug G, talked me into staying in IT. He pointed out that I had a lot of value and could still make a career in IT, despite my stagnated skills. He was right, a quick certification, and I had another gig, paying great money.

Fast forward to the end of the contract, four years later. I was a bit crushed that I didn’t get picked up at Vanguard. I made a lot of friends and I felt connected to IT again. Fortunately, I got another job quickly. It paid well, but this time I was working for a bank that had just been bought by another bank. The pay was great, and I took the job thinking I would be there for 6 months. Then I got an offer for an extension for another six months for a 10% bonus. Cha-ching!

Unfortunately, finding another job after that proved to be a challenge. It took about six months after one false start. Oops. Probably best not to ask about that. Eventually, I landed a position with a local company on a six month contract. Six months turned into a year. I felt like I landed in a place where I was given no direction (again) and being paid for doing almost nothing (again). Well, I did do something: A lot of thinking.

I had that time to think and reflect and bounce things off of my wife. Through a lot of encouragement and hand holding, I think she got me pointed in the right direction. She knew I wasn’t happy and needed a change, desperately. I am so lucky to have her support! By the time my “sponsor” at Gore told me my contract was ending, it was almost hard not to smile.

So, here I am, fifty-two and venturing into the unknown. If you have read this far, you must surely be curious – where will I go from here? Well, for that dear reader, I am going to make you wait.

Send me a shout out if you liked this, feel free to share it with anyone you like and click the button on the right to be notified by mail when this blog is updated!

Jackmathers.com

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I thought I’d muse on having a web domain named after me. I guess it’s the first step in “branding” although truth be told, I’m not sure that the things that I am going to pursue are all going to fall under my name as a brand, but surely, it’s a good place to start as I figure out what to name my various upcoming projects. Surely, my creative writing will be a brand, so we will go with that.

This isn’t the first time that i have acquired the rights to jackmathers.com. Back in the early 2000’s (gee, that looks odd), I was probably the first to own this domain. I didn’t do much with it. I created a vanity music site that I had linked to my Broadjam.com account. I told friends and family about it and they could go and listen to some of the songs that I was producing at the time under the name SylverWyrm Productions.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t very organized and never managed to attract any attention. Adding that to having a career and raising a family, well I pretty much put music on the shelf.  Click on “listen in browser” below to hear a sample of what I was doing at the time (You will stay right on the page), or click Here to go to my music page to listen to a selection of more songs.

Interestingly, I was contacted by a lawyer representing another Jack Mathers out in Seattle who was intererested in buying the domain. I came back with an offer that was insanely high (but at the time, we had no clue as to how much or how little a domain was worth.) The other Jack turned me down, of course. It seemed to want it for his music site. Weird huh?  I think confirmed this is also the same Jack Mathers who owns and runs Jack’s Fish Spot, at the Pike Place Market in Seattle. I’ll have to go meet him if I ever travel there. Perhaps we should be pen pals.

Later, I let the domain rights lapse, and at some point I think Jack in Seattle owned the domain for a few years. A few years later when my father was still alive, I was considering another venture and when I checked, the domain was free, so I snatched it up again. When I told dad that I had the rights to it, he complained that he was the original Jack Mathers (His father went by John), so it should really be his domain. I offered to let him have it, but he looked at me and asked what in the hell he would do with it. I didn’t do anything with the name that time either. I’m not even sure if I created a website, or if I just let it expire.  Well, I have it again and it’s all mine. I have some plans this time, so keep on checking back! Sorry to the 70+ Other Jack Mathers on Facebook, I think I may keep it a while this time.

The beginning of the end …

Duh duh duhhhhh! So is the first day of my last week working for the corporate world. My contract with Gore ends on Friday, and I don’t intend on going back working for a large company. At least that is the plan. I am going to go into a bit more detail in the coming days. Since I don’t really have any followers, I am leaving this little breadcrumb here so that I can go back and see where it all started.  At some point I will tie this blog to FB and other social media, so I would guess the curious among you might explore some of the older posts.  I wanted to have a little more content than just one post, so I am filling a bit of space.

Anyway, my next post, unless something more interesting comes up will be titled “How we got here” and it will be a brief recap of my situation as it stands and how I got here, and why I have decided to take my life in a whole new direction. Stay tuned!

Giving this a whirl …

Ok, first blog post. As you may or may not know, my name is Jack and I live in Pa, outside of Philly.  This is the first step in getting my thoughts out. I’m not sure what this blog will turn into, but hopefully something interesting.  My next post will hopefully be a bit more in depth and we can get this

thing going. There is a picture I took of a bee. And there is a picture of me with a big smile. I don’t usually smile big like that, but there you go.