Last Ditch Effort

For those who follow me on the Tavern, you may have noticed a substantial drought in the articles I’ve written and published since late last year, outside of WordPress Weekly.

In the last 4-6 months, I’ve been in a pretty low place emotionally, mentally, and at times, physically.

The Tavern started out as a fan site, a blog all about WordPress. A place to discuss what was happening. A place to help each other out. In the past five years, the Tavern has grown from a hobbyist blog to a place of professional journalism thanks in large part to Sarah Gooding. Sarah has done an amazing job, has a great work ethic, high standards, and has taken the site to new heights.

I have not faired well in the Tavern’s transition. In the past few years, I’ve struggled to find a place, maintain my written voice, and become more of a traditional journalist. I’ve admitted in the past that I’m not a good journalist and I still feel that way. I enjoy writing how I feel, what I think, and evolving the narrative over time. But with the Tavern becoming a more serious and professional industry source of news, that kind of writing is getting phased out.

The way in which I write stories on the Tavern now a days is akin to Ben Stein’s voice. Dry, boring, accurate, no personality, that I sometimes wonder if it could be accomplished better by AI.

One thing that I’m proud and that I’m good at is WordPress Weekly or podcasting in general. I get to be myself on the show and I enjoy talking to people about WordPress and learning about other’s experiences. I’ve had a few pep talks lately and I’m going to try expanding my reach and produce three different WordPress podcasts a week.

  • The first will be a daily podcast that covers the pressing topics of the day.
  • The second is WordPress Weekly
  • The third will be a Friday night podcast where for one hour, I’ll invite members of the community to join me on a public Google Hangout to talk about whatever WordPress issues they want. I’ll literally be giving people in the WordPress community a chance to have their voices heard.

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to expand the Tavern listener base while at the same time, trying to bring back some more community elements to the site. Most importantly, what these shows will do is give me a sense of purpose. Let me tell you, when you feel like you have no purpose, no sense of well being at work, it’s draining.

So, that’s what I’m working on. I realize there are already plenty of other podcasts that cover the things I mentioned above, but only one of them involves me. I’ll still be writing but I’m hoping that the podcasts provide enough time for the site to be redesigned and install some sort of community software such as bbPress. This way, I can move into community management or something and not just a writer.

The Train Ride

As we ride the public transit train into downtown, I stare outside the window and watch brick building after brick building go by. Some with the lights still on while most have broken windows and other signs of abandonment.

I wonder about what’s inside each building, what products were made, how many people made a living working there, and what happened. At one time, the buildings were new, bustling with activity right next to the tracks. Now they’re just relics of a different time period.

Before my mind can wander off any further, it’s time to get off the train as we’ve reached our destination.

WordCamps and I

Later this week, more than 2,000 people will attend WordCamp US in Nashville, TN. It’s the largest WordPress event in the US and is home to Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word. This year, I won’t be in attendance. In fact, I haven’t attended any WordCamps this year. Here are some of the reasons why.

  1. I noticed last year that when I attended WordCamps, I missed being away from home and couldn’t stop thinking about not wanting to be at the event.
  2. I’m expected to report on these events and gather information about things from people. I used to interview people when I went to WordCamps but I recently stopped doing so because the people I wanted to interview were at the event to hang out, have a good time, and talk WordPress without someone putting a microphone in their face. I respect that and agree, WordCamps are for talking off the record. It felt awful when people thought I was trying to turn the Tavern into a tabloid.
  3. Perhaps the biggest reason of them all is that I simply have nothing in common with the majority of the people who attend WordCamps. Outside of maybe a few things in life and WordPress, there’s not much room to be social with people. I don’t have kids, I don’t run a business, I don’t work in an agency, I’m not creating anything or working on any projects. I’m the person who is supposed to write about what everyone else is doing. Quite frankly, I feel lonely at these events and it sucks.
  4. Ever since my anxiety attack before flying to Chicago last year, I have no interest in flying anymore. I’m hoping to get over this some day but it rules out traveling far distances to attend events.

Next year, I hope to attend at least one local camp but these events just arn’t for me anymore and it’s my own damn fault.

Thanks for the Motivation Justin

This morning, I read an interesting post from Justin Tadlock on what he regrets the most about blogging.

What I regret the most is that I didn’t write enough about my life.

During my college years, I wrote extensively about my day-to-day existence. There were numerous experiences that I left out.

My blog painted a picture of who I was.

Going forward, I want to record more about me. Or, at the very least, record my thoughts on things. That may include writings on social issues, politics, or pop culture. I’m not entirely sure.

I feel the same way about my blog. It mostly sits here dormant while I submit things to Facebook and Twitter. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to publish more things here but rather, I’ve been keeping a lot of stuff inside and haven’t been able to channel what’s in my head to virtual paper. I’m also scared about what might happen if I open up about some of the things I want to discuss.

I need to recommit to this space of mine. A space where I can write and publish practically about anything I want. I need to get back to a daily writing grind and just let the words flow like the good ole days.

Thanks for the motivation Justin. Now all I gotta do is follow through.


Smoky Mountain Trip 2017

A few weeks ago, my wife and I had the pleasure of visiting the smoky mountains. This is the first time we’ve visited during this time of year and considering the fires that took place last year, we were curious as to how much damage was still around.

As it turns out, there are plenty of scars from Pigeon Forge through Gatlinburg all the way to Chimney Tops where one of the initial fires started. Chimney tops picnic area is still closed to the public. Forest fires are a peculiar thing. Certain trees were burned more than others while a few feet away, brush and trees were untouched.

Fire Damage

Fire Damage

There are a row of hotels in Gatlinburg that were burned down with their stone chimneys the only thing remaining. The lift chairs that ride up the mountain in downtown Gatlinburg have been replaced with new poles, wires, and chairs. There’s also a new chair lift near the entrance of the city.

New Chair Lift

New Chair Lift

Both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg were lit up for the holidays. It was mild weather for the most part. It began to snow on the day we left and although we didn’t get to see the mountains covered in snow, just seeing it snow in the mountains was enough for us.

As usual, we visited Cades Cove which always seems to take forever to get to as the road follows a curvy river through the valley. Here, we saw turkeys, elk, a large buck that was sunbathing, and a bear. Pretty much everything you’d want to see wildlife wise was in Cades Cove.

Overall, visiting the mountains is exactly what my wife and I needed. Our next smoky mountain milestone is visiting the area during the peak of Fall foliage. But getting the timing right is tricky and it’s also the most expensive time of the year. If you’ve never visited Smoky Mountain National Park, I highly encourage you to do so at least once in your life. Check out the gallery below which includes 89 photos from our trip.

The mountains are calling and I must go – John Muir

I’m Glad My oxyCodone Had Zero Refills

One of the prescriptions given to me to help manage the pain with my right ankle is 5mg tablets of oxyCodone. This is an opioid that I was supposed to take once every 4 hours as necessary for pain relief.

For the most part, I didn’t need to take it but when I did, it generated a relaxed, drowsy state that I started to enjoy. I was taking the pills not necessarily for pain relief, but for that feeling. I’ve recently run out of oxyCodone and I’m happy that it came with zero refills.

I can easily see based on my short experience with oxyCodone how someone can become addicted to opioid based drugs. From now on, it’s extra strength Tylenol for me.

And Here I Thought I’d Go Through Life Never Breaking A Bone

Last Saturday morning at about 5AM, I was on my way to bed when I noticed the motion detector light was on. I peeked out the kitchen window and noticed a large doe eating our rose-bush. I opened the front door and began chasing it away. I chased it further out of the yard than I normally do and my right ankle fell into a hole as I was running full speed.

I fell flat onto my face. I tried to get up and put weight on it but immediately fell to my knees. It’s at this point I realized that I broke my ankle. I embarrassingly crawled across the driveway and through my front yard and used the railing to get back into the house. I crawled to the bathroom, brushed my teeth and then crawled into bed. My wife asked if I was ok as she noticed my breathing was different. She was in a bit of shock when I told her that I think I broke my ankle.

She suggested we go to the emergency room but I told her that if I broke my ankle, or any bones, I should be in a lot more pain. I fell asleep. When I woke up at 11AM, my wife was adamant that we go to the hospital. Since all I needed were X-Rays to confirm if I broke anything, we called an Express care clinic that was nearby. I found out that most X-Ray places at the express care clinics close at noon on Saturdays.

I eventually found a location that can perform and read X-Rays until 4PM. We made the trip out there and every bump that shook my ankle was painful. As we were waiting for the X-Rays to be read, I vomited three different times because of anxiety, worry, and the high possibility I would need surgery. The X-Rays confirmed that I had broken a bone and fractured another. Each doctor that saw the X-Rays said I did a number on my ankle.

We drove from the Express Care Clinic to an ER area at a different Express Care clinic where the doctors numbed up my ankle joints and reduced/realigned my fracture as best they could. (Closed reduction is the manipulation of the bone fragments without surgical exposure of the fragments.)

I also performed a CT scan to determine if there were any more breaks or fractures in the leg which came back negative. Before releasing me, Cleveland Clinic sent over the X-Rays to an Orthopedic surgeon who confirmed I needed to have surgery right away and scheduled it for Wednesday.

Surgery Is No Joke

There were only a few times between the reduction on Sunday and my surgery that I felt a lot of pain. I ended up taking the Oxycoden more for the drowsiness factor than for pain relief. I didn’t sleep much Tuesday night as each hour that went by brought me closer to surgery. While a ton of people suggested that it would be a piece of cake, it didn’t take away the anxiety I had about the procedure.

As I laid in the hospital bed in the pre-op surgery room, I wanted to panic. I wanted to get up and run away. I wanted to lose my mind. Thanks to my wife, I was able to remain calm throughout the ordeal. I told the doctors I was anxious and they supplied me with some medicine that calmed me down. After providing a nerve block down my leg (numbs my leg from my thigh to my ankle through the main vein) I was wheeled into the surgery room.

They covered me in warm blankets which felt wonderful. They kept me calm and told me I’d notice a cold tingling feeling in my left arm where my IV was. This was the sedative that knocked me out, pretty much without warning. When I started coming too, I was back where I started and for whatever reason, I was crying. After calming down and seeing my wife again, I was happy to know that I was now on the other side of the hill towards recovery.

So here I lie in bed with my right ankle elevated, five different prescription bottles next to me and drinking plenty of water. Chasing the deer that far out into the yard was a stupid, expensive, decision. Hell, it was doing me a favor considering it’s the end of the growing season. The lesson here, leave animals alone. You can look but don’t run, especially if it’s a freaking deer.

Here’s hoping I can put weight back onto it sooner, rather than later. I imagine I’ll be going through some physical therapy here in a few weeks. By the way, here is the end result of the surgery.