Today & Maslow’s Yardstick

Chances are you’ve seen this graphic before. I believe it’s a pretty clear picture of why poverty hurts the entirety of human civilization, stunting potential contributions to our advancement as a species.

But that’s beside the point for this post. For me, today, it’s a personal yardstick. And this post is a journaling. Because (a) there’s no way I can manage an actual journal on paper, I’m apparently incapable of such privacy, and (b) my blog and Facebook history have proved to be effective tools for long-term self evaluation.

If you want to come along for the ride, that’s cool, I can use the companionship. But if not, that’s cool too, you should probably get out of the car here.

So, Maslow’s Hierarchy, starting from the bottom:

  • My physiological needs are fine, always have been, one of the perks of having been born a Middle Class white guy in 21st Century USA. Same with safety needs; same reasons.
  • Belongingness and love needs, I’m happy to say, are better than I feel I deserve. I use the word “feel” intentionally, because I’m intellectually aware that relationships are give-and-take, and I “think” I’m doing okay with the give part. But emotionally I feel like a drain on those relationships.
  • Esteem needs and self-actualization have been in a decline for a couple of decades, with a pretty steep nosedive over the past dozen years.

Those last few years of employment in educational publishing were brutal, taking me from heading up creation of an e-publishing department to bottom of the editing totem pole. From glowing praise from upper management (I recently found an old annual review letter in my records), to suspecting the only reason I still had a job was unwillingness to fire a long-term employee. All I can say is that I didn’t change; something else did. Call me unadaptable; I don’t think a history of success from factory to medic to LPN to teaching to game design back to teaching would agree.

Having left gaming as an occupation, by family necessity, a few years before taking that job, was its own hammer blow, with one attempt after another to revive that career thwarted. Maybe some other time I’ll explore the topic more in-depth, but for now, I can only say that whatever the creative field, it seems apparent that people follow properties more than they do the creators, something I’ve heard often from even some very big names. It’s worse with work-for-hire.

Even retired and self-publishing, as much as I’ve accomplished, in retrospect I see the nosedive increasingly apparent. I used to power through deadlines; now the very thought of a deadline is crippling. I believed it was the result of a focal seizure disorder; now I’m starting to think the disorder itself may be a manifestation of long-quashed anxiety.

Drawing this post to a close, I remind myself that its original intention was simply to record several weeks of ongoing, devastating “What does anything matter?” depression, and gratitude for a couple of hours when it lifted: Once with surprised smiles while viewing a video link Abraham Limpo Martinez shared, 30 minutes of calculating dice odds, the math involved, and how physically modeling them with dice glued together in shells goes from 2D to 3D to increasing dimensions of hypercubes; and once a Thursday night role-playing session with Steve Sullivan, Kifflie Scott, David Annandale, and my oldest friend, Jim Cotton. (I hope you lot don’t mind my mentioning you by name.) That session was mainly combat demonstrations, starting with Dracula’s three brides, then 20 of his gypsy minions, and then Dracula himself! The last with a perfectly Hammer film style conclusion, Sully apportating a stake for Dracula’s heart, on the same turn the Count summoned a cauldron of bats to drive the heroes away, allowing both sides to escape to fight another day. I better understood my own game design from that session, and learned a great recording trick from Sully!

That last paragraph is the m0st important for this record. The others are just prelude. If you’ve read through it all, here’s the point where I say “Thanks.” You’re one of the folks who help give my life meaning.

Funnel Focus

In a previous post, I mentioned trying to shift away from a purely Facebook presence, to concentrate more on this blog/site. For my final pre-retirement employer, one hat I was handed, back when the Web was first launching, was “Internet guy.” And what with the company being a business, “Search Engine Optimization” (SEO) became a significant part of that job. How to snag a highly visible spot on the first page of a search engine.

Some of SEO was simply a matter of early entry into a field: Look up the phrase “Write Source” on Google and on the first page you’ll find only a single entry that isn’t my old employer. The Edge browser is only slightly less dominated, as is the case with Yahoo! (the most popular search engine back then) and Ask Jeeves (another old one).

Short of that early dominance, there’s “long tail” (I like to call it “chasing the long tail,” because sarcasm), a practice of focusing the META description in a page’s <head></head> code on such specific phrasing that you dominate searches for that combination of words.

And tied to SEO is the idea of funneling searches and other Web presences—social media, posts on other blogs, whatever other diverse locations you can occupy—back to a single location, where you can focus your own time and attention, rather than having to keep up with and provide content to a zillion other places.

That funnel concept is as true for personal blogs as for businesses. A desire to be visible in a sea of other content. And for a “retired” game designer like myself, seeking to remain relevant in a hobby more and more dominated by Hasbro and Eurogame companies, my posting to disparate places is time I better spent on writing and self-publishing.

Which focus is why the occasional publication announcement or game related content here.

Not just about my own stuff. On Facebook I often promote somebody else’s, whether in my own feed or on a Group page. Because I’m a gamer first and foremost. Self-publishing is just one outlet of that hobby. Playing other people’s games is just as much a part, though unlike for many players my mind may be doing more than simply play: evaluating the design itself, musing on some aspect of it, learning something, envying some feature I wish I’d have thought of. Just as I do with fiction, non-fiction, movies, poetry, etc. The storytelling, the use of language, the philosophy and history.

True fact, the only reason I know much of anything about historical things like the Napoleonic Wars is from reading War and Peace and The Count of Monte Cristo. (Historical details I was supposed to learn in school just wouldn’t stick, until I took a Humanities course in college, which dealt with history and philosophy from the viewpoint of famous artists and writers.) And once the Napoleonic Wars were introduced in those two novels, suddenly the interconnectedness of the Louisiana Purchase, the War of 1812, and suchlike came into focus.

So, forgive me if I’ve said it before, but this website is me. And though you’ll find quite a bit of stuff about my own works, that’s only a significant fraction of who I am and what I’d like to accomplish here. Most likely I’ll be changing the site’s banner sometime soon to reflect that fact for anyone who lands here by mistake. So they don’t immediately think I’m trying to sell something.

Because people do land here by mistake. I accidentally snagged the front page of search engines way back when, by getting the “” URL and keeping it. So, though the dead Texas millionaire has been crowding me out of late, I’m still there. And one not unwelcome side effect of my paying more attention to this blog is likely to be crowding him out again simply by outliving the newsworthiness of his passing. I may be old, but I can still make news.

“SAG-AFTRA Declares Double Strike as Actors Join Writers on Picket Lines”

Photo by Angelique Jackson.

Per the Variety article, one key point is that “The streamers have refused a key demand of both unions, however: to share streaming viewership data and pay creators more for high-performing shows.”

Also interesting to note that historically, Ronald Reagan led the only previous combined SAG-AFTRA & WGA strike.

Food for Thought

Photo by Stephanie McCabe on Unsplash

We all like to complain about Facebook.

In the long run, however, I’m cheering for the quiet, philanthropic, computer programmer & family man who co-created a widespread social media program in college.

Rather than the nanomanaging [his own word], wild-card, grandstanding philanderer, born into wealth.

I wish Musk no ill will, but I hope to never meet him, while I’d happily sit down to dinner with Zuckerberg.