M&M to Visit Mom

I told you that I drove up to Moncton for the day on September 16, which would have been my father’s 79th birthday. Well, it looks like I’ll be going back up for October 28, which is my mother’s 76th birthday. With my sister.

Indeed, my sister called a little while back to suggest that she could fly from Ottawa to Halifax on the evening of the 27th and we could drive together from the airport to Moncton to be with Mom for her first birthday in 53 years without Dad. My sister has a one-way ticket for Moncton-Ottawa that she has to use by March 2005. It was to be her return ticket after spending two weeks in Moncton while Dad was hospitalized. She was supposed to go back on March 13th; Dad died on the 12th. So she had to get another return ticket instead and keep the “old” one for another time.

With any luck, the weather will cooperate. My sister’s idea is that it would be nice if we could go on a drive — perhaps to Fundy National Park — and finish the day at a nice restaurant. Mom’s a really good sport and she’s very easy to entertain, so I think she’ll like this idea.

She’s doing very well, by the way …all things considered. Already she accepted my sister’s invitation to spend Christmas in Ottawa, which is a stroke of genius on my sister’s part. Not only is it good that Mom won’t be in Moncton for this first Christmas, but also it’ll give her the kind of Christmas she likes. What she likes at Christmas is to see kids opening their gifts; my 12-year-old nephew, my sister’s boy, is the only “kid” left since all but one of my nieces are young adults now. The one concession that’ll likely have to occur is that my sister will have to go to midnight mass. She categorically doesn’t do the “church thing” and wouldn’t do it if she were visiting in Moncton. So I wonder if they’ll all end up going for this once. I hope so…

Making Dough

I’ve always been reticent to disclose too much about how my business is doing. I just think it’s not a good idea. There’s too much at stake in letting everyone know one way or the other.

But I feel like disclosing a little bit right now.

Progress on TextStyleM, or what I should rightly call My Life’s Work, has been phenomenal this year but especially since late spring. Of course, there are so many more modules that need to be added, my head spins just thinking about them all. But I’m getting signals telling me that, so far, I’ve managed to create a product that’s more than “just good.” Among those signals:

  • I landed a new client this week, beating out several other bids for the project; and
  • the more I look at TextStyleM the more it’s striking me as tight.

The first signal should be readily understandable to any outsider. I think the clincher of my CMS, which the demo site probably helped to illustrate in this case, is that it’s difficult to screw up a website with it and that it doesn’t require technical know-how (like basic HTML). But, for me, perhaps the nicest thing about landing this contract is that the organization actually hired a technical consultant to vet the bids, so unlike any other bid I’ve submitted, this one was considered a contender by one of my peers. It’s a test I’m glad to note I have passed.

It’s a little bit harder for me to put the second signal into words. What I mean by “tight” is that when someone signs onto TextStyleM, there doesn’t seem to be that much to it on the surface. But there is. By poking around, one discovers that there are myriad ways to tweak the managed website, not to mention that it really is next to impossible to screw things up. The system “watches out” for all the pitfalls one can encounter when publishing a site on a Linux box (e.g., how spaces in file names can be problematic or how an uppercase A in a filename is not the same as a lowercase A). There are layers and layers of safeguards and helpers, yet all are transparent. For all the respect and admiration I have for MT, I like how there’s nothing as geeky as “Rebuld Site” in TextStyleM. I guess what I’m saying is that the system is, deceptively in a good way, a lot “smarter” than what meets the eye.

So, objectively, things seem pretty good. But because I’ve been stirring in so many pots since the spring — programming, managing and developing content for some clients, writing proposals, co-developing a series of ads, finishing up the writing of standard contracts (including licensing agreements and an official “Acceptable Use Policy”) — I haven’t had much time to seek out as many new clients as I would want. I have had several ideas recently, but now the time has come to push outwards more often and a little harder.

And I’d be lying if I told you I’m not scared. No, it’s not because I’m not confident in my product. Quite the contrary! Rather, it’s the thought of all the work that’ll represent on top of keeping my existing clients happy and further developing my script. Add to that the fact I’m feeling tired these days due to not having taken a decent vacation in years. Plus, currently — this is as detailed as I’m prepared to get — my return on the number of hours I work isn’t where I think it should be. My brother the accountant has long noticed this fact, but now the challenge I’m facing is finding the best way to grow when already I’m feeling that the slate is pretty full. THAT is what is frightening me most these days; it’s knowing that I must find the next ounce of energy — and the next one, and the next one — that will lead me to reaching my long-term goals.

Yet, do you want to know what’s slightly perverse in all of this? If someone were to suggest that I pack it in and find myself a “real job,” I’d likely projectile puke all over them.

That is simply not an option. The job or the puking…

Faint Glimmer of Hope

I still don’t have cable TV. Therefore, I wasn’t able to watch last Thursday’s first U.S. presidential debate. Still, I have to say I’m pleased to hear and read that Bush did so poorly. And even funnier is to see those American right-wing apologists pissin’ their pants ’cause there’s clearly little redeeming in Bush’s performance.

This election shouldn’t be as close as it is. The Bush administration and Bush himself have so much trouble with something so simple, so fundamental, that it seems inconceivable that anyone would ascribe the word “honest” to that bunch. And that thing which is so simple and so fundamental is called “telling the truth.” While I’m not convinced that Kerry is above twisting the truth, I do think he wouldn’t be as incapable of dealing with it.

I just hope Kerry doesn’t become overly confident in the remaining two debates. From the bits I’ve seen and read, it’s clear to me he has managed to poke large holes in what was supposed to be Bush’s citadel in this election. While I’m not so foolish as to believe that there’ll be a Kerry landslide on Nov. 2, I do hold fast to that glimmer of hope: that, come Jan. 20, 2005, a new President of the United States will be sworn in, and the whole (rest of the) world will sigh a huge sigh of relief.