Essay

Nibbles of Chocolate

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“Never trust anyone who tells you they don’t eat desserts. You know, those people who look at you smugly when you offer your pièce de résistance and say, ‘Oh, I couldn’t; this dessert is too rich!’ We simply respond with, ‘We don’t understand the concept of ‘too rich’ — or ‘too chocolaty’ for that matter.” Susan Mendelson and  Deborah Roitberg, Nuts About Chocolate

Amen to that! There is nothing on earth too chocolaty.

“This book is about obsession.

Once The Trellis opened, I enlisted the pastry chefs to create some devastating concoctions from chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. Customers oooo-ed over The Trellis’ Caramel Banana Chocolate Chip Ice Cream….But then came the dessert that broke the chocolate barrier — Death By Chocolate.

I discovered then that I was not alone in my obsession.” Marcel  Desaulniers, Death by Chocolate

No, you’re not alone Marcel! My obsession began the day a local shop-owner leaned over and gave my too-young self a small, plain-looking, dark piece of chocolate. I took it warily from his hand, gingerly put it in my mouth, sucked, and hit heaven. Like any right-minded kid, I wanted more. I’ve been addicted ever since.

Later, as an adult, when gorging on chocolate truffles, I used to say it was good for me just so I could legitimize my addiction. And then I heard that it actually may be good for you. Without hesitation, I looked into it. And then I wrote a three-part series on it, titled A Nibble of Chocolate (Parts One, Two, and Three). I invite you to check it out. Click on each of the pix below and enjoy!

Personal

A Week to Remember

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It’s been an up and down week these past many days. My brain has been healing rapidly, which is good, but has been throwing me into chaos as it drags me away from my routine in search of rediscovered abilities, not so good. I had to organize myself again to take into account my new activities, but discovered that was not so easy. Apparently, my Palm is obsolete, and I wasted two days trying to work around that. I managed a once-only sync with new calendar systems. But don’t know what I’m going to do in the future. I’ll deal with that later. Now if I had a Blackberry or iPhone, I’d be golden!

I’ve finally completed my series Going Ubuntu on Squidoo. Upgrading to Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex version may’ve been a pain, but it did get me to finish writing about switching from Windows to Ubuntu!

I continue to add products to CafePress, including one inspired by Judy Taylor, and I had a wonderful moment a few days ago when I realised that I could once again work with a graphics program beyond resizing and adding some copyright text. Yay for brain healing!

I’ve been looking for poppies for many days now, to no avail. I even actively looked today, but still no luck. However, I really don’t need a poppy on my lapel to remember. I immersed myself in Remembrance Day programming on Global last Sunday — tweeting my thoughts like mad — Twitter is so good for sharing those little thoughts you don’t want to do a full blog on — and today a good friend leant me her poppy photo so I could pay tribute to the day on Flickr. Plus the documentary Vimy Ridge: Heaven and Hell, inspired me to write a Remembrance Day piece on my main blog.

So that’s the kind of week it’s been.

Internet and Computers

Finished up my Series on Going Ubuntu

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With the much-anticipated release of the semi-annual upgrade to Ubuntu, I decided to finish up my Going Ubuntu series as I upgraded my Hardy Heron version of Ubuntu to the Intrepid Ibex version. (I love the naming of the upgrades!) Of course, nothing ever goes smoothly. Even when it’s supposed to be one click, two clicks, and you’re done, it’s still not straightforward. I have no idea why I had the issue I had because the bug fixes I thought would apply to my upgrade didn’t. But I am comforted to know that I was not alone in my hair-pulling-can’t-believe-I-can’t-see-the-desktop angst.

In brief, the best way to upgrade Ubuntu is to format the Ubuntu partition on your computer and do a clean install. I’ve officially decided to forget the one-click method. It sucks cause there goes all your tweaks. And I still haven’t figured out how to back up my added applications, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. For one thing, it got rid of all the computer junk that inevitably piles up when you’re experimenting with new programs.

Anyway, it’s a huge relief to finish off this series. I invite you to check it out and my other articles as well!

News

Added New Articles Page

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Instead of trying to squeeze my article titles into my sidebar, I decided that a page listing my online articles would be a better way of letting my readers know what else I’ve written on other websites. And so you will now find a new menu item at the top of my website: Articles.

The Articles page will be updated regularly as I publish new online articles or come across old ones still floating around in cyberspace. Some of them may have to do with Lifeliner, but most will not. Please check ’em out and enjoy!

Internet and Computers

Going Ubuntu: A New Article Series on Squidoo

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Logo for Ubuntu
Logo for Ubuntu

It’s mostly sunny, the radio is playing, and I’m writing about Ubuntu, a human-friendly version of Linux, an alternative operating system to Windows.

I have grown increasingly frustrated with Windows, and I’m not alone as I’ve seen people call it Windoze (because you have to wait so long for anything to get done as the bloatware cranks along) or Micr$haft (for its cost). One of my goals before my brain injury was to convert an older computer to Linux and use that Linux computer to power my book marketing efforts. But for the last 8 years, I believed that was on hold, maybe even permanent hold. As I relearnt how to write and saw small improvements in my reading, I continued to have trouble returning to my old computing abilities, to have trouble learning about new developments in programming. I coasted on old knowledge, got used to being out of the loop, occasionally tried to read about Ubuntu, the version of Linux Dell uses, and then one day a few months ago I had it. (My lawsuit grinding to a virtual halt had a lot to do with that; being unable to use an old laptop anymore because Windows had slowed it down to a crawl was another reason.) And so one week, I ignored the rest of my life and spent several days trying to learn about Ubuntu and installing it on the old laptop. It was a wonderful escape from the world. And even better, I succeeded in giving new life to the old computer.

With that eventual success under my belt, I felt emboldened to try and install it on my new laptop last month. (Both the laptop and installing Ubuntu was a reward to myself for seeing the lawsuit to the end.) As I worked through the installation process and figured out how to use the newest version of Ubuntu on a much more powerful machine, I thought that others may find my non-geek approach to Ubuntu useful.

And so I drafted several articles in concert with teaching myself about various aspects of Ubuntu. Since I don’t retain new information for very long if I don’t use it over and over and over, having it all written down would also prove useful to me when I had to go back to change a setting or install a new application. After awhile, I had a nice crop of draft articles, but the question was where to put them. This blog is supposed to be about my writing, about Lifeliner, not about computing stuff. Metblogs is supposed to be about Toronto stuff only. But my personal blog I thought might be the right place, yet I hesitated publishing them to that forum. And then I joined Squidoo.com, and as I thought about how I could keep article ideas flowing and publishing in order to build up a readership there, I realised Squidoo would be the perfect forum for a series on Going Ubuntu. I published my first installment — Going Ubuntu on a Sony Vaio: The Decision — last week.

I aim to publish one new article in this series each week, and already I’ve received positive feedback on my first installment, received confirmation that there is a demand out there for this kind of information. There’s lots on Ubuntu and Linux for techie types, but very little for people who need information and how-tos in regular non-jargony English. It’s a good feeling to know that one’s writings help people and can even resolve a question or a problem for them.

Today, I published the second in this series — Going Ubuntu: The Installation. I invite you to take a look and to subscribe to my Twitter feed for notifications on when lenses get updated or published. Meanwhile, I have other article ideas and will notify you through this blog for when they go live on Squidoo.

Internet and Computers

Now Writing on Squidoo!

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How does a writer make money in this modern world? The question becomes even more puzzling when you factor in a lack of stamina and fatiguing problems, like I have. Lifeliner is selling but not well enough to earn a steady income. Other traditional ways for a writer to earn a living include selling articles to newspapers and magazines. I went down that road before my brain injury — and it was a real high to see my writing and photography in ink, no question! — but because I have, I know that I no longer have the organizational skills and stamina to do it now, on top of which, I’ve been out of the market for so long that it’ll be like starting all over again. Not fun.

While I’ve been publicizing Lifeliner through traditional means, I’ve been looking into more (and free, definitely free) ways of publicizing it. That’s how I stumbled upon (no pun intended) some of the new ways people are sharing their work using the Internet. Apparently, there are a plethora of ways, some of which bring publicity for one’s blog and book, but not direct income, and some of which seem to bring in an income. One of the ways I’m trying out this week is Squidoo.com, well, to be more exact started trying, for from all accounts, it’ll probably be Christmas before I see my first payment, assuming I write regularly and often and let people know about my Squidoo work. But as I’ve learnt and learnt well, the tortoise on weed is the one that eventually gets there.

Squidoo is that odd-looking icon near the top of the left sidebar. It links to my first lens, which is about me (maybe I should change that Squidoo lens to my lensmaster page…). Lens? Huh, I can hear you asking. What the heck is that? That’s what I thought too! A lens is basically an article with photographs, comments sections, links to Amazon, and so on. It has a Table of Contents, is broken up into modules, and can be customized with lots of fun addons that I haven’t figured out yet. But I have made a start! I added a Polaroid module on my second lens.

So how does one earn an income? Basically, through affiliate links and ads. So, to put it simply, the higher the number of people reading one’s work, the more likely you’ll reach the threshold to earn an income and eventually a steady one. They recommend writing on one’s niche topics; mine are obviously Lifeliner and related topics like TPN (total parenteral nutrition), but I also have a nice-sized store of old articles, blog posts, and ideas that I can flesh out into articles on other topics. One that popped into my mind as I considered my second lens was how to autograph one’s book. I get a fair number of hits on that topic. So I rewrote it, added photos, a comments/debate section (and what self-respecting Zoroastrian doesn’t like a debate?), and a guestbook.

There’s lots more for me to figure out, but Squidoo looks like a good opportunity. Certainly, lots of others have found it fun and profitable!