hankrules2011

Book reviews, health, hockey, publishing, music

Posts Tagged ‘blogs’

Scott’s Music Shak: My New Music/Audio Shop & Website

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 30, 2018

Hi all! It wasn’t too long ago that I wrote about my newish music selling business (Feb. 21), letting you in on some of the stuff I’ve been doing for the past six months, and providing links to my then-seven online shops. Well, I’ve made some changes. I’ve closed down two of the shops (on Bonanza and e-Record Fair) and I’ve created my own new music and audio website! I’m very excited about it. It’s called Scott’s Music Shak and it’s now open for business! If you don’t want to click the link I’ve supplied in this sentence, the URL is: https://scottsmusicshak.com/. It’s mainly a shop, and features a number of “Collections,” where most music lovers should be able to find something that interests them. I’ve only put in some initial inventory, but I’m going to be adding more on a near-daily basis. The Collections are “Vinyl,” “CDs,” “Cassettes,” “Accessories & Components,” “Rare & Collector’s Items,” and “Under $10.” I also display some Featured items at the top of the homepage, while I have a live Instagram feed at the bottom of the homepage. The Collections are toward the bottom of the home page, while a link to my entire Catalog is in the menu at the top of the homepage. At this point, I have 63 items in my Catalog, but I’m going to adding hundreds. It’s very time consuming to do so, so I can only add so many per day.

In addition to my catalog, there’s an “About” section, a section on the Goldmine Grading Standard, my Terms, and a “Blog/News” section, where I posted something today (“Are You Truly An Audiophile?“), as a matter of fact. Indeed, I’d be grateful to anyone who headed over there to check my Blog/News section out and possibly leave any comments, should they wish to. I’d also be grateful to anyone who wanted to suggest things I should add or delete or change or create (if possible), etc. I’ve done most that I can, but I could always potentially do a few other things. Finally, I’d love a couple of sales, if anyone feels extra supportive or inspired. I’m still learning how these transactions work. On my other shops that I’ve had (and I still have a few, though I’ll probably be closing or changing 1-3 others), the platform/website I’ve used has always handled the transactions automatically, sending me emails and texts when a new sale came in. This system is a little different and I have to be more proactive in how I go about things, so there’s a bit of a learning curve. I guess you could say I need and would appreciate some practice. LOL!

 

Scott's Music Shak

 

Anyway, I just wanted to announce the opening of my new website. I’m pretty excited about Scott’s Music Shak, and I have high hopes for it. I’ve done fairly well in a couple of my shops and I’d like to transfer my success to this website. Please come visit and feel free to leave comments or email me or do anything you want there! Cheers!

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A Great New Food Blog

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 26, 2018

Hi! This is a bit of a plug, so please forgive me, but my wife, Gretchen, has started a new food blog called “Vital Vittles – Food Trends: culinary finds for foodies,” and I think I lot of people who are “foodies” or into food and/or cooking might enjoy it. In case that link didn’t work for you, you can find it at: http://www.vitalvittlesfoodtrends.com/.

On her homepage, she writes “I’m Gretchen –  a food enthusiast and part-time blogger. It seems like every time I go to the grocery store, I find more and more choices! The choices we have today are almost overwhelming. Food trends come and go and with these trends, major food companies compete for our hard earned dollars. I provide some help in this blog with my unbiased reviews and comparisons. Comments are always appreciated, especially if you have anything to add to help others decide if that new food product is worth the money.”

So she reviews various food products, with plenty of photographs so you know exactly what she’s writing about, how it looks, how it might look partially cooked even, and occasionally she’ll get a “picky eater” taste tester to compare to her own observations. Among the items she’s reviewed lately are DelMonte Fruit & Chia, Green Giant Veggie Spirals – Zucchini, Forager greens pressed vegetable chips, Hostess Bakery Petites, and more. For whatever reason, she’s been getting a decent amount of “Likes,” but not too many comments, so if you visit her blog and read some reviews you find interesting, I’d encourage you to comment, leave a question, anything really. She’d like to make this more of a two way conversation, I believe.

Well, I’ve always known she’s a darn good cook, and I’ve been encouraging her to write a book or at least some articles for publication for awhile now. She’s one of the most creative people in the kitchen I’ve ever met, taking recipes and modifying them every time, a little different, always experimenting, always good outcomes. She may not have written her book yet, but this is at least a foray into writing about various foods, and the reviews seem good to me, so again, hop on over to her site and read a few. You may learn a few things and find it interesting in general. She and I certainly hope so! Thanks a lot for reading this plug, and please consider helping her out with more readers, likes, and comments. One note: her blogging platform doesn’t allow for followers, which is a major annoyance, but it does have an RSS feed, and you can always bookmark her blog if you like it. And if you do like it, check it several times a week, because she tries to write new blog posts 2-3 times per week, which keeps her busy. Okay, that’s enough from me. Go check her out, with many thanks. Have a good one!  — Scott

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Subtle Changes To My Blog

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 2, 2018

Hi All,

I haven’t written a new blog post since the last one, but I’ve been working on updating my blog. I was nosing around some of my PAGES (as opposed to Posts) and was horrified at how out of date some of the information was. For instance, my beloved wife of five years was still listed as my “girlfriend!” Geez. That’s bad. So, I spent some time updating some of my sections, and I thought I would key in any of you who might be interesting in seeing or reading over the changes.

First of all, I changed the About section at the top (upper left) section of the page. While I retained some of the older material, I both updated it (from one cat to two) and added some newer relevant material (entrepreneur, audiophile, etc.). So, if you want an updated bio to find out where I’m at these days, there you have it.

I also added some books to my Favorite Books section. Two new novels, one new work of nonfiction, five new science fiction novels, and one I call a “Straggler,” that doesn’t fit anywhere else. I don’t have links for all of these books to Goodreads or Amazon, and maybe I should, and I really don’t think I have the time to do so, but it’s a good idea I just thought of, but in the meantime, there are some good books listed there that might appeal to a lot of people, so feel free to check them out.

One of the biggest changes I made was to my Find Me Here section. First of all, some of the websites and social media sites were outdated to the point of no longer existing, so I had to make some edits. Secondly, I had sites listed followed by hyperlinks. So 2013. I thought why not make the site words themselves the hyperlinks? That’s only the obvious thing to do. So that’s what I did! Check that page out, please!!! You’ll notice two Instagrams and two Twitters. That’s because I have an individual account for each and a music business site for each. They’re both listed separately to make it easy to know which you’d be accessing. I have 13 links/sites listed there at the moment, and while there are more I may add in the near future, I thought that was a good place to start. And I need followers on my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter music business pages, so please feel free to drop by and follow me in those places. Also, feel free to make recommendations or requests, because I’m totally open to all.

Next, I briefly updated my Penguins Fan Page, although not by much. It essentially takes you to my website, to my Pens fan page there, but it also admits that it’s not up to date, and that I want and need to update it, and I plan to as soon as I find the time. Not too much there, and I won’t blame you if you don’t feel like visiting that page, although I’d be grateful if you would, obviously.

Finally, as far as my PAGES went, I made substantial changes to the My Sports Teams page. I made a lot of additions, with links to all of the teams I follow. I added an MLB team, three NCAA football “teams of interest,” two NCAA men’s basketball teams, a second women’s basketball team, a second women’s softball team, a second women’s volleyball team, and two NFL “teams of interest” as well. All in all, there are 25 teams listed for 10 sports, ranging from high school to college to the pros. If you enjoy sports at all, by all means, check that page out and feel free to leave comments!

Okay. Those are the changes I made to my PAGES at the top of my blog. But I didn’t stop there. I made more changes to the lists and widgets on either side of my main blog wall. On the left, I changed my Twitter feed from @scottholstad to @scottsmusicshak. So too, I changed the Instagram feed from @scottholstad to @scottsmusicshak also.

On the right side of my blog, I deleted some obsolete blogs in the Blogroll, added a couple of Bookstores, and made some significant changes to the Music section, where I deleted over a half dozen groups, such as Hungry Lucy and Unto Ashes, while adding over a dozen new groups, such as KMFDM, Rammstein, Pet Shop Boys, Within Temptation, Flora Purim, Neal Schon and others, AND I added a number of audio companies, largely audiophile-quality companies for those interested in such things, such as Bryston, Klipsch, Pro-Ject, Krell, Rega, and others. If you’re willing to spend the money, you can find anything from affordable entry level audiophile-quality turntables from Pro-Ject for $500 to Bryston amps for $6,500 to a Rega RP-10 turntable for $7,000 all the way to the new McIntosh XRT2.1K loudspeaker system for a small, little $130,000/pair. Yeah, you read that right. But hey, if you’re a REAL audiophile, you find ways to feed your obsession, right? Heh. Finally, I added a new section called Boutique Computers, listing some of my favorite custom designed and built computers and the companies that make them beneath the heading. It’s a long story and the subject for a blog post some time, but suffice it to say that after experiencing some unexpected tech disasters in the spring of 2017, I decided to go high end with the idea of very high end for a very long time with the goal of expandability, so I had a “boutique” computer custom built for me, realized I had been short sighted and that it wasn’t sufficiently expandable, returned it, had another with 34 drive bays started being built by the same company, but work on it got bogged down, I grew impatient with what I viewed as their ineptitude, so I cancelled our contract, and I went elsewhere. I ended up with a Xidax X-8 Glacier, the specs of which are pretty awesome. I could have gone even more awesome, and maxed out some rigs to see how much it would cost to go uber awesome. The Falcon Northwest Mach V maxed out at $24,000 while the Digital Storm Aventum was just about $30,000! For a tricked out PC. One that would still be tricked out five years from now. But the Xidax I got cost a great deal less and will still be a quality computer five years from now and has enough storage capacity to last me at least 10 years or more, and that’s what I was looking for after a quality processor and quality GPUs. Anyway, like I said, a story for a different blog post….

And I guess that’s about it. For now. Next, I’m going to have to write another “real” blog post, eh? I’ll try to do so sooner than it took me last time. By the way, in my last post, I mentioned that I have seven online shops at the moment, although I’m trying to close two of them. I’m also considering opening my own e-commerce-based website, my own shop, and shutting down all but one of these shops (because this one, on an audiophile site, gives me lots of sales), but that would be a major commitment, both in time and money, and I’d lose the global audience that’s built into some of these sites for the uncertainty of people not ever knowing about or ever finding my own new site. So, it’s a bit of a gamble. But I wouldn’t have to pay all of these fees for transactions, I wouldn’t get banned from listing items because I’ve allegedly listed “too many” of a certain type — when I’ve never listed ANY of that type before! — I’d have complete control over my inventory and pricing, my marketing and promotion, and my social media sites could all point to my website instead of my Facebook site — which has not translated into sales at all — and ideally, if I could get people to jump to a “landing page” on my site and enter their email for a discount or a promotion of some sort, I’d be able to send out email newsletters on a semi-regular basis, maybe weekly or bi-weekly, offering both tips and promotions, which is what you’re supposed to be doing to get sales, according to all the data. So, if anyone reading this has any opinion on this gamble, I’d love to hear it. I think longterm, the good outweighs the bad, but upfront, it would be a massive timesuck, a hell of a commitment, and I’d have to work very hard to get people to notice this site. But it couldn’t be any worse than several shops I have right now, so I don’t see what I have to lose in that regard. I really only have 2-3 sites where I’m selling anything, really only two, and I’d be glad to dump the rest in exchange for full control over my own inventory, pricing, shipping, listings, promotions, everything. Lemme know your thoughts and thanks!

Okay, have a great weekend everyone. Cheers!

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Selling Music Online…

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 21, 2018

Audiophiles

McIntosh XRT2.1K Loudspeaker System: $130,000

 

Hi! Sorry it’s been so long. Obviously, per my recent posts, my life has changed a lot, and I have a lot less time and energy to blog. It’s not that I don’t want to; it’s just that between extremely poor health and other projects, it’s fallen down my list of priorities, unfortunately.

I thought I’d update you on one of my recent projects though. Among other things, I’ve turned my passion for music into a … business (?) … and I have opened a number of online shops where I’m selling new and used vinyl LPs, CDs, and cassettes, as well as audio components and accessories such as turntable mats, turntable cartridges, preamps, and speakers, among others. In addition, on a couple of my sites, I’m also selling a few “vintage” books and planning to add more. Furthermore, I have a couple of social media accounts at Instagram & Twitter where I post pictures and links to articles, posts, sales, & the like, so all of this keeps me very busy. I currently have seven – 7!!! – online shops, plus Instagram & Twitter, so thank goodness I can do all of this on my own schedule, eh?

 

Vinyl LPs

 

Seven shops are too many & I’m in the process of shutting one European one down right now. I then plan to shut another one down after that, leaving me with five. I may even trim it to four later, but for the time being, I have to get it down to five. I’m contemplating creating an e-commerce-based website for all of it, but that would be such a major time suck, PLUS I’d be on my own competing against the big boys and the littler ones, that I don’t know how feasible or wise that is.

I have been doing fairly well recently on one site that’s more audiophile-oriented: Discogs. I’m getting several sales a week there now, although at first it was hard to get going with no feedback. Now I have some, and I have orders out in the mail that should generate more when they arrive, ideally, so that’s been paying off. eBay has allowed me to sell some albums, as well as a few components & accessories. The site is really strange, though, because as soon as you’ve had a successful sale in an area, they WON’T let you list another related item for THREE MONTHS to penalize you (?) I guess, although they’re also penalizing themselves too, financially. How stupid is that??? So, when I went to list some preamps recently, because I had sold one, the site wouldn’t let me. More bizarrely, when I went to list a set of Klipsch speakers, the site said I was past my limit, although I’d never listed and obviously had never sold speakers there before! WTH? So, eBay isn’t making me happy these days, although I just sold an LP from there yesterday. Thus, I’m actually using more than one account with them.

 

Scott's Music Shak & Shop

 

My main site, although NOT my main selling site, is a Facebook Page: Scott’s Music Shak & Shop. I’m trying to get it known as a music and audio resource, a place people can come to for good content, photos, videos, polls, and yes, a Shop. While the Shop has not taken off, for whatever reason, some of the articles have gotten quite a few hits, or “reaches.” Some of the things I’ve posted about, whether writing them myself or sharing other posts, have included how to clean your vinyl, the top 30 goth albums of all time, how to rip your vinyl to your computer, Jeff Beck’s only Top 10 album, the Goldmine Grading Standard (the most hits of any post to date), cork turntable mats, the top “smooth jazz” albums of the ‘80s, what a preamp is & why it’s important, what a DAC is, etc. Possibly for budding audiophiles & the like then, as well as most music fans.

Meanwhile, what kind of music am I selling? Both new & used, as I said. On Discogs, the majority of my inventory is industrial, followed by goth, hard rock, electro, alternative rock, blues, classic rock, EBM, techo, experimental, funk, indie, pop, synth-pop, jazz fusion, & so on. In my inventory, I list over 40 different genres. I also have a variety of rare & hard to find items, such as an Australian promo copy of Nitzer Ebb’s Showtime, a very scarce (especially in the U.S.) Russian copy of The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night with the text in English and Russian, mostly Russian, with the labels virtually entirely in Russian, and an incredibly rare unreleased Czech promo copy of Iron Maiden’s Killer LP. I’ve only found one other dealer in the world selling this one, & it’s very valuable. I also do custom searches for people for specific titles or groups. I’m doing one now for a customer in Italy who’s a Linkin Park fan. I’ve found him a couple of Russian titles he doesn’t own & a couple of Australian titles, one quite rare, he doesn’t own, so that’s good. Meanwhile, I’m searching for some Japanese titles for him that are proving difficult to find.

 

 

If you know anything about online selling, you know that it can be slow going. I’ve done a lot of research, read books, even signed up for a class, and I know the stats, the standard thoughts & beliefs, etc., so I’m thinking long term strategy, but sometimes it’s hard to be patient. The good news is, I’ve only been doing this for three months, and all the research I’ve done on Etsy, for instance, has indicated that it’s common to go six, nine, or even 12+ months before you get your first sale. Well, I just opened my shop there about a month ago, & I’ve had two sales there now & hope to have more as I learn more online marketing strategies. And at my more “established” (a whole additional month – wow!!!) shops, I’ve been getting more sales, particularly at Discogs, over the past month, so things are trending upwards. This is good & necessary, because I sank a lot of money into acquiring a lot of cleaning, packing, & shipping supplies, as well as some inventory to supplement my existing inventory. I’m determined to provide the best shopping experience possible, and that means I pack better than anyone, I use the best, thickest, most protective outer sleeves on my vinyl, I ship within 24 hours, I communicate well & respond to any communications quickly & effectively. And I offer additional services, such as the accessories & components & custom searches (the searches are free) for anything & everything. I can’t get anything, but I can get many-to-most things for customers. So far, my feedback has been 100% positive & my only frustration has been that not everyone who has bought from me has left me feedback, which hurts me & my reputation as a seller, & I know it’s not because they were dissatisfied, because if they had been, they would have contacted me about it, but they didn’t, so obviously, they were okay-to-pleased with their purchases. So, that doesn’t make me happy, but there’s nothing I can do about it. In any event, I really enjoy doing this & I’m doing this not only to earn a few dollars (and that’s ALL I’m earning – a few…), but because I really love it. I love making other people happy with music & being able to act as a resource for others when possible.

Naturally, I’d love it if any of my blog readers were to visit any of my shops. I’d love it if any of you liked or followed me at the sites that allow that, & of course, I’d be grateful for any sales too! But by no means feel obligated. I doubt any of you will, but I had to put that in there. However, if you do visit my shops, you may notice some crossover in some of them, i.e., some postings of the same item in a couple of the shops. Most of the time, that’s because I intend to be shutting down one of those shops in the near future and am trying to get all of the inventory at those shops listed elsewhere before I do. But you should encounter original items at each shop too, especially at Discogs, Facebook, & eBay, to a lesser extent. So, please visit. Also, please follow me on Instagram & Twitter. Let me know you’re coming from my blog to ensure I follow you back, and I’m thinking of the best way to give out a promotion to my blog readers on purchases you may make. How about this: I’ll refund my blog readers 15% off any item they purchase UNDER $100!! In order to get that refund, you’ll have to email me to let me know what you purchased when, & provide this blog post’s URL, as well as the item’s URL, title, cost, etc. You’ll also have to provide me with your PayPal email address, because I only take PayPal everywhere except Facebook, which only allows me to take Stripe. I’ve never refunded anyone on Stripe, but I’m sure I can learn how, & I now know how on PayPal, so send all of this info to me at scottsmusicshak AT gmail DOT com after you’ve made your purchase, and I’ll refund you, ideally, within 48 hours. Sound good? Sound like a deal? Cool. I am now going to post links to my shop & my social media accounts. Once again, I’d be grateful to anyone who visits any of them. All of them have some to many original items, so overlook any cross-posted ones you may see. And feel free to offer suggestions too! I’m all ears. Thanks everyone. Cheers!

 

 

ACTIVE Online Shops

  1. Facebook Page: Scott’s Music Shak & Shop 
  2. Discogs
  3. Etsy: Scott’s Shak 
  4. eBid: Scott’s Shak
  5. eBay

Current Shops I Intend To Close

  1. e-Record Fair 
  2. Bonanza: scottsshak’s booth  

Social Media

  1. Instagram: scottsmusicshak
  2. Twitter: Scott’s Music Shak  @scottsmusicshak

 

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My Fifth WordPress Anniversary

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 26, 2016

WordPress was kind enough to notify me a few days ago, on the 20th, that it was my my fifth anniversary with them, blogging away the whole time. It’s hard to believe. I had come over from Xanga, a blogging site I had been on since 2004 and one I loved desperately. It’s just that friends were leaving that site in droves — I didn’t know why, no one told me — and I felt like the site was going to hell, so while I didn’t delete my Xanga account, I started searching for a new blogging home. I had friends on this place, Blogger, and TypePad, but it was WordPress that really stood out for me, and besides, this online literary journal I had recently become poetry editor for had an account here, so I decided to open my new site here. I did and never looked back. My first posts were unusual and designed to introduce myself to new people, let people get to know me. I didn’t start writing book reviews until about three years ago or so. I wrote about writing, creative writing, sports, health, politics, publishing, published some memes, some lists of favorite books, songs, bands, etc., had quite a few posts which weren’t easy to categorize, etc. But then I started to find my niche with my book reviews, which, much to my surprise, became my blog posts with the most hits by far, as well as the most likes, and even the most comments, when I got any, which is rare. Since then, most of my posts have been book reviews — I published hundreds — interspersed with some sports posts, the occasional political or spiritual/religious post, an occasional creative writing post, some health posts, and a few others that are hard to categorize. But it’s the book reviews that people read. I’ve tried to figure that out but I guess it’s as simple as that’s what people want to read. That simple, right?

Well, anyway, in honor of my fifth anniversary on WordPress, I’m going to provide a link to my blog post from five years ago today: 20 Questions. I hope some of you find it interesting and enlightening. Actually, now that I think of it, I’m just going to post the whole blog post here. It’s short and probably easier than having to click on the link and go to another page. Remember, this is from June 26, 2011. Here it is:

 

20 Questions

Delete my answers and substitute your own. Enjoy!

I’ve come to realize that… I have taken far too many things for granted in my life, even when I thought I was not doing that. It’s a tragedy & I’m trying to remedy that.
Reconciliation is… ideal, but not always realistic. This is exactly the opposite of how I have felt my entire life, but I have wasted way too much time over the years trying to reconcile (or even simply remain on the same friendly terms…) with various people for various reasons and I can count on one hand quite easily the number of times it was worth the effort. Move on.
I talk… more than ever, if you can believe that. I have a lot to say. I spent the last 7+ years living with someone who really didn’t like to hear me talk much, but who preferred watching TV. Like 24/7. For years. Yeah, good times. I’ve got a lot to say and a lot stored up, so sorry….
I love… one special individual more than anyone I ever have at any time in my life, to a shockingly higher degree than I ever knew was even possible. Yeah, I admit it. I also dearly love my parents, my kitties, and several of my good friends who have stood by me over the years. My list of friends I “love” has diminished greatly over the past two years. Pity.
My best friend/s… are fewer than I thought in number, but are critically important to me and people I feel confident I’ll remain loyal to forever and who will be there for me forever. I’m blessed in this regard.
Love… is a newly important word to me, as most of my life it was largely an abstract concept, outside of my loving family. In my middle years, I have been blessed to discover what I now believe “love” is and is meant to be, and I had no freakin’ idea this was a possibility.
Marriage is… hit and miss. Usually a mistake. Usually entered into too soon and without sufficient forethought. A business partnership. Yeah, I’m jaded.
Somewhere, someone is thinking… “I wonder what that whining, bitchy drama queen Scott is going on about now.” Seriously. You think I’m joking….
I’ll always… remember times, places and the special people who have gone out of their way to save my ass in the biggest and worst of situations. Foremost among these are my parents and my best friend, Marcy. Emily, Jim & Eunice, Arnold & Sarah, and Ami have been there for me too. Many thanks.
I truly relax… nowhere. I stopped being able to relax years ago and now I no longer know how to, which is pathetic, and I even feel tremendous guilt if I even make an attempt to relax! Therapy is clearly in order.
My cell phone… is my life. I store everything in my iPhone. I’m not kidding. If that ever disappears, I’m more screwed than if my wallet disappears.
When I wake up in the morning… I now thank God for allowing me to see the sun rise once more, to be able to draw a breath, to have friends and family (and kitties) who love me. I no longer take these things for granted.
Before I go to bed… I talk to my special loved one for as long as possible in order to end each day on a positive, loving and blessed note.
Right now I am thinking… that I have a lot more to be grateful for than I – or most other people – would typically realize, looking at circumstances.
Babies… make me break out in hives. I’m horribly allergic to them. Always have been, always will be. I find them quite distressing.
I am committed to… doing everything possible to survive. And to love and live more strongly and sincerely than I ever have in my life before now.
I miss… my cat Rocky, who died in August 2007. I also miss seeing and hanging with my best friends back out west, including Marcy, Celeste, Marc, Emily and Rachel.
Tomorrow… is a hope and a goal, but not a guarantee.
I really want to be… healthy enough to live long enough to have a quasi-“normal” life and a happy one, to whatever degree that is possible.
I hate… people who don’t understand and who don’t even try to make a serious damn effort to understand.

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Switching Domains

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 4, 2016

I’m considering switching blog domains because I’m sick to death of all of the disgusting ads WordPress has been littering my blog pages with. I know why they are doing it and it’s working. They want me to upgrade from free to a paying premium account and that’s exactly what I’m probably going to do. I don’t intend to leave WordPress. I used to be on Xanga for a decade or more, but that’s a thing of the past. I have a book review blog on Blogger, but I’m unimpressed with that blogging site, so I have no interest in migrating there. Don’t care at all for Tumbler. Don’t like Typepad either. I’ve looked at a couple of others over the past several months, but WordPress seems like the only viable option for me and since I’ve been blogging here since June 2011, it would be a hassle to leave. So I’ll most likely upgrade to premium. Which means I’ll have a new domain name, one without “wordpress.com” in it. I assume it will be something like “hankrules2011.com,” unless for some strange reason that one is already taken, but I can’t imagine it is. Anyway, if for some reason you attempt to locate this site and cannot and if this site does not redirect you automatically to the new site in the next day or so, hopefully you will have read this and will be on the lookout for it. Just a heads up to save us all from those damn awful ads. Cheers!

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End of the Year Post 2015

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2015

I wrote this blog post quite early this morning and didn’t post it. I wasn’t sure about it. Since then, I’ve reread it twice and have had second thoughts about posting it. I usually post an End of Year post on the last day of the year, but this one is too depressing, too negative. I don’t think I want to be a downer for my readers. Nonetheless, I’ve decided to post it after all, although I’m not sure it’s a great idea. It does, however, describe my year, which is my intent. If you’re not interested in reading a depressing or negative post, feel free to skip this one. No hard feelings. If you’re interested at all, feel free to read it though. Hopefully 2016 will be better for me/us and hopefully all of you will have a good 2016. Happy New Year!

 

On the last day of each year, I write a year in review post. Here are the links to the 2014 Year in Review blog post and the 2012 End of the Year blog post. I had a lot going on in both years. If you read them, you’ll note I had some health problems, particularly last year. Well, I’m about to write an abbreviated post for 2015. It’s abbreviated because this year was largely a personal disaster due to hideous, nightmarish health and pain problems and I/we didn’t really get to do very much at all.

In January, my mother celebrated her 85th birthday. Although she’s had a couple of bad falls this year with broken bones, she still is relatively good health and living alone in a condo in Knoxville, TN.

In February, I developed severe back pain to accompany my head and facial pain, out of the blue. It took time, but over the course of the year, I sought treatment from my orthopedist and a rheumatologist, as well as physical therapists. It seems I have spinal stenosis, degenerative disk disease, massive osteo-arthritis throughout my entire body, and a broken tailbone. They’re recommending surgery to remove my tailbone, probable spinal fusion surgery, and down the road, two hip replacement surgeries. My pain has been at about a 9.6 out of 10 level every day this year and virtually no pain medication helps.

About the same time, my head pain increased and got worse. My Trigeminal Neuralgia was joined by at least one, perhaps two, other types of head pain, which I have been trying to have diagnosed and treated all year, with little help. My two types of head and facial pain have been at a 9.6 out of 10 level every day, virtually all day all year long with virtually no relief from any pain medication. Any pain medication that used to be helpful is no longer useful. I now have three new diagnoses for additional types of head pain disorders, all three of which can be extremely painful, one of which is supposed to be the most painful condition known to mankind. I don’t know. My wife and I are convinced there’s another undiagnosed condition that has yet to be treated, since I’m responding to no treatment.

Since this spring, my longtime insomnia has worsened. I am averaging about three hours of sleep a night and am now, in fact, waking up and getting up between 11 PM and 12:30 AM. It sounds insane, but it’s true. That means I go to bed early, but I still get only two to three hours of sleep. I also can no longer successfully nap. I started falling asleep at red lights while out driving, and in chairs sitting up, and at doctor’s offices, and at church dinners, and my wife and I suspect I may have narcolepsy so I have an appointment with my sleep doctor in a few weeks to discuss this.

During the spring, somehow I was able to get to some of the concerts I was able to buy tickets for 2014 Christmas for my wife. Because of my health problems, we unfortunately had to blow some off and waste that money, but we did get to see Lewis Black, Weird Al Yankovic, The Who (which was awesome), and Barry Manilow, which was pretty much the highlight of my wife’s life. We blew tickets to Chicago and a Pittsburgh Penguins game. Oh well. We had good times.

In April, we celebrated our second wedding anniversary. It was pretty low key. It feels like we’ve been together for so much longer than that. We have a wonderful relationship and I’m very lucky to have Gretchen for a wife and best friend. April is also Gretchen’s birthday and so that was pleasant, although she’s not thrilled about getting older. I keep telling her she looks and acts infinitely younger than she is, looks at least 10 years younger than other women her age. I think she knows that intellectually, but still is annoyed with aging. I think she’s still sexy as hell. She always will be.

In July, I started going to a new neurologist who I didn’t like personally very much, but who, to his credit, did try some new things. He’s an egomaniac, but then many doctors are, I suppose. He’s given me a couple of Botox injection treatments so far and has tried a number of new medications on me, none of which have helped, but at least he’s trying.

Also, in July my head pain got even worse, if possible. Since I’m up 21 hours a day on average, it became 21 hours of pain a day, every day, without break. At a near 10 out of 10 scale, which combined with my back pain made life nearly unendurable. I applied to get into Vanderbilt’s Neurology Headache Clinic, which has a good reputation, thinking that after nearly six years of treatment in Chattanooga and only getting worse, I need to go elsewhere if I’m going to get better. July was also the second anniversary of my father’s death. It was a sad occasion.

I had my birthday in September. I suppose it was low key, as I remember nothing about it. This fall has been largely a blur, due to my pain status. I’ve been super focused, while also at the same time, largely oblivious. If that makes any sense. I particularly enjoy September and October because of sports. You have college football, the NFL, baseball, hockey just starting, college basketball just around the corner. It’s pretty awesome. I enjoyed watching my Pirates make the playoffs for the third straight year, watching my Tennessee Vols have a frustrating but ultimately successful 8-4 bowl year and my UCLA team have a winning bowl year, my Steelers have a injury-plagued year in which they still have a minor chance of making the playoffs and the hockey season, in which we paid for a year of NHL Gamecenter Live, in which you can watch any game you want – not on national TV – live for a one time set price. So I get to watch my Penguins quite often. If only they were playing up to their expectations and potential. It’s been disappointing so far. Of course, the UT Lady Vols are doing well so far, but they’ve had so many injuries, they’ve only been able to dress seven players lately, so it’s only a matter of time until they start losing many games and the men’s Vols basketball team has a great new coach, but not much talent while my Long Beach State team is having a rough year getting beat up by major teams like Duke.

In October, I finally got to go to Vandy. I was instructed to bring my medical records, so I spent two weeks and hundreds of my own dollars getting them, Gretchen took a vacation day, we drove six hours two ways, went to Nashville and met with a doctor who didn’t even want to look at my records, said they weren’t important, didn’t want to discuss my background with me, spent perhaps 15-20 minutes with me, prescribed a useless migraine medication for me, said I needed Botox immediately (so they scheduled me for three and a half months away) and, when Gretchen asked if we couldn’t just get this done in Chattanooga, reacted angrily and said it had to be done there. We left pretty ticked off at what waste of time and effort that was. I haven’t canceled my next appointment there yet, but I will. There’s no point in going. Meanwhile, my mom has stepped up to the plate and said she’ll pay for me to go anywhere to help get me fixed, cured, whatever. So, I’ve been researching Mayo, Johns Hopkins, the Cleveland Clinic, UCLA, etc. So far, Johns Hopkins would be convenient because that’s where Gretchen’s family lives, but Mayo seems most impressive by far. I’m not going to pursue it just yet though. Want to exhaust things here in town first.

In November, we traveled to Maryland to visit Gretchen’s parents, sons, and friends. It was a difficult trip for me health wise, but she had been wanting to go for months and we hadn’t been up there for a year and a half, so it was time. And we had a good time over Thanksgiving. It was good to see everyone. We also celebrated our one year anniversary of getting our kitten, Ace, who has become Gretchen’s baby. He’s now about 16 months old, and Henry just turned 10 years old, which is unreal because I can remember when he was just a month old, but they get along much better now and Ace is calming down a little bit finally. But just a little bit. Ace is also the most social, codependent cat I’ve ever seen in my whole life! He needs to be with people like nothing I’ve ever seen. He needs to be held. When we went to Maryland, we hired petsitters to come to the house twice a day to help mostly Ace. Henry is pretty independent and I’ve left him by himself for a good three days or so, but Ace couldn’t take even one day, I’m sure. It’s kind of sad. Cute, but sad. Nonetheless, we love them both and they add to our lives tremendously.

This month, we celebrated our five year anniversary of when we started dating. That’s always an exciting occasion for us and fun to remember. We also had a very subdued Christmas, which was somewhat anticlimactic. My pain was so severe and I was on so much pain medication, it was virtually impossible for me to function at all. My mother drove down from Knoxville to be with us on Christmas day and we exchanged a few gifts, nothing like last year. We couldn’t put up our tree this year like we’ve done in the past because of Ace. He goes wild. We put up a mini-tree we bought, with some lights and ornaments. That was destroyed the first night. We put up an old ceramic tree with plastic lights I’ve had for decades, but Gretchen thought better of it, so she got a little wooden tree with a string of lights and that was our tree. We didn’t even put presents out until the night before because Ace would destroy them. We try to control him, but we really can’t.

One year-long note. Early this year I was forced to drop my Obamacare and start using my Medicare I got last year when I went on disability. I had no idea how that would change my life. It’s been a nightmare. Medicare Part D is a freaking nightmare from hell! With Obamacare and BCBS, my monthly medical bills came to roughly $400 a month. With Medicare, I was quickly paying up to as much as $2,800 a month in medical bills, almost all of it prescriptions. One of my prescriptions alone had a co-pay of $800! That’s fucking insane! That total is more than double my disability check. How the hell am I supposed to pay for that? And I have no choice. As long as I’m on disability – and there’s no way I can work – I have to be on Medicare and as long as I’m on Medicare, I’m stuck paying thousands a month for medical/prescription bills. It’s unfair and cruel and I resent it like hell. It’s practically ruined my life even more. Thanks for the added stress, government. Thanks for practically bankrupting me. Appreciate it.

Well, I guess that’s about it for 2015. It was truly a horrible year. Probably worse than 2011, perhaps. I don’t know that 2016 will be any better, but I’m hoping it will be because we intend to aggressively pursue medical treatments for my back and head and solutions and ways to diminish and end my pain. I don’t know if that’s possible or reasonable, but dammit, we’ve got to try. My wife, meanwhile, has her good job, although without insurance, and Obamacare just doubled her premium, so we can no longer afford it, so that’s just great. So she’s actually thinking about looking for a new job next year, which would mean leaving her nice, cushy job that’s so great otherwise. Pity. I hope anyone reading this has a pleasant New Year and a wonderful 2016. Cheers!

 

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My First WP Post Anniversary

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 20, 2015

Today is my fourth anniversary of my first WordPress blog post! Yay! I migrated over from Xanga to WordPress, a little unsure of things, but eventually found my way around and the rest is history. I’m going to post my first post from June 20, 2011. It’s short.

 

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Hello world!

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 20, 2011

Hi there! My name is Scott Holstad. I’ve been blogging on Xanga since February 2004, and while I am still there, I have decided to try a new, different blog over here on WordPress.

Let’s see … what should I say about myself? I was born in Boston and have lived in several states and two countries. I have moved roughly 26 times. My favorite place I have lived has been Los Angeles. I’m now living in the Chattanooga TN area. (I moved up here from an island I was living on. By the beach. Across the street from the bar I frequented every night. Sweet living. Good times….)

I’m a professional student and teacher. Thirteen years of college at six academic institutions, resulting in three (underused) degrees. Taught at three academic institutions.

More importantly, I’m a professional writer and editor, with decades of experience to my credit. I have experience in the newspaper, magazine (print and online), and book publishing industries. While I have authored 15 published poetry collections over the years, I have generally supported myself through technical writing and editing, project and program management, and consulting.

I am currently serving as the poetry editor for Ray’s Road Review, an excellent online literary journal founded by a fantastic fiction writer named Chris Duncan. He is also serving as the fiction editor. Please stop by the site and read. If inspired to do so, submit as well. We’re eager and open to submissions.

I guess that’s enough for now. If anyone stumbles across my new blog and wants to say hi, please leave some comment telling me about yourself. It’d be greatly appreciated. Cheers!

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There! That was it. Not very impressive, was it? Still, my first effort. My first effort on Xanga back in 2004 was even worse. My next effort was better. I might reprint that in another day or so. Thanks for reading.

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Toby

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 18, 2015

Before I launch into today’s post, I want to acknowledge my last post and what happened with that. In my last post, I whined pretty pathetically about not getting comments or likes from my 406 followers. So I was stunned to get tons of comments AND likes on this post, most all of them from people who didn’t follow me! Including my own responses to various comments, there were 73 comments and dozens of likes on this post. And not too many took me to task. Most made the point that I needed to be more interactive in order to gain comments, as in I needed to make the rounds of other blogs and make more comments myself in order to get people to my site. And that’s probably true. So point taken. I shall try to do that. It was also nice to hear from some other ex-Xangans. And instead of offending followers and losing bunches of them, I actually gained some new ones. Bizarre! I wondered how people found my post. Apparently several people found it, somehow, and re-blogged it and people found it that way. I’m not sure why they felt compelled to re-blog it, but there you have it. So that’s the story. Thanks.

OK, so today is our beloved late cat Toby’s one year anniversary of his death. We still sometimes can’t believe he’s gone. We still miss him so much. We still feel like he was cheated out of a good life. You may remember that he was only six. That he died of kidney failure. That we had to have him “put to sleep,” which is a nice way of saying we had him killed. He had been getting sick and we were getting concerned. We took him to the vet as early as the preceding October. She put him on a special diet, but it was too little, too late. He really went downhill his last two weeks. It was really sad to see. During his last 24 hours, I thought he could be saved, as he had perked up a bit, so I took him home from the animal hospital and he seemed better, but that didn’t last long and he was obviously ill again within hours. So the next morning, I took him to the vet and my wife later told me she thought that would be the last time she’d ever see him. I can still remember him looking at me as they took him in his kennel into the back room. When they called me later to recommend euthanasia, I was devastated, but not horribly surprised. We had him cremated. We keep his jar of ashes next to my old cat, Rocky’s, ashes.

Toby used to like water. A lot. He liked to take showers with us. He’d drink out of the bath water with my wife every night. He’d get in the sink and drink out of the faucet every morning. He also used to like to get us up in the morning. It didn’t seem to matter that I have insomnia. He’d hang out with me in the office from 1 or 2 til 4 or 5 and then start wailing at the bedroom door, trying to get my wife up. I’d have to chase him up the hallway to try and quiet him down. He could also sleep with the best of them. Never met a cat that could relax so much. He really loved Gretchen’s Ravens blankie. He made it his own. He also loved shoes and loved sleeping with his face in them. I know — gross. Still, it was cute. He was a big cat — 22 pounds. He was tubby. He loved to eat. We’d put him on diets, but they never worked. Our other cat, Henry, is 15 pounds. Henry always let Toby eat first. Heh.

Toby died the week we were supposed to move. It was very stressful. We were moving from a crime-ridden neighborhood, to a nice peaceful neighborhood where we’d all be happier. We felt cheated that Toby never got to see the new house, never got to run around it, see the new neighborhood. Time went on. Meanwhile, Gretchen wanted a new pet, one to call her own since Henry is sort of my cat. He’s been with me since he was a tiny little kitten and often seems to favor me over others. It’s always been that way. Gretchen wavered between a dog and a cat and we went to adopt a dog one day, only to find it had already been adopted. We took that as a sign, so the day after Thanksgiving, we went to the local shelter and adopted a four month old tabby Gretchen named “Ace,” who’s a real cutie, albeit a crazed little monster who beats up on poor Henry constantly. Gretchen really seems to love him and I’ve even grown somewhat attached to him, although he’ll never take Toby’s place in my heart.

So I guess I’ve said enough. I just wanted to commemorate Toby today. It’s been a year since he died. That was an awful day. A lot has happened since then. We’re in a new house now, Toby. You would like it here. You’re sorely missed. RIP.

Toby and me

Toby and me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toby on a scale

Toby on a scale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toby in a scarf

Toby in a scarf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Bother?

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 15, 2015

You know, I’m becoming pretty discouraged blogging here on WordPress. I used to blog on Xanga all the time for years. In fact, it is where I met my wife many years ago. And there was a real sense of community there. You looked forward to getting on Xanga to see what everyone was up to that day, what had been going on. That doesn’t happen on WordPress. At all. It’s a totally different format. And so I’ve adapted my blogging practices in an effort to change. But I’m afraid it’s been for no good cause.

As of right now, I have 406 followers here on WordPress. Not the most, by far, but still, a decent number. And you know how many hits my posts get? 20 or 30. How many likes? Three or four. My excellent blog post I wrote on our new floors complete with pictures got one the other day. WTF??? What the fuck is wrong with you people??? Two years ago, when I had half the followers, I was getting 10 or 11 likes, so what am I doing differently now to get no likes? And comments? My wife has commented on about a quarter of my 472 posts. Another blogger has commented on 50 posts. The next highest is 13. In four years. In four years of writing blogs, the third best I can do is 13 comments? WTF? I happen upon all of these blogs by all of these teeny bopper girlies who are self published and self important “authors” dispensing writing advice with hundreds of comments and I just shake my head in amazement. Now I’ll admit, I’m not a very good commenter on other people’s blogs, so I’m willing to cut some people some slack, but I almost never get comments.

So my question is, what the hell are you people doing? Why are you even following me if you’re not remotely interested in reading my posts, or liking them, or commenting about them? Why not do me a big favor and stop following me? In fact, after reading this post, I expect to see about half of you flee and I expect to lose followers in droves, or then again, maybe not. Since most of you don’t even see what I write, perhaps you won’t even see this post. I don’t know. And I’m not sure I care. However, just because I’m somewhat curious, I’m going to post a little poll and I challenge you to answer it just to give me some feedback so I know what’s going on. If you do, a big thanks to you.

  1. I read your posts somewhat regularly, but never feel inspired to like or comment on them.
  2. I read your posts somewhat irregularly, but never feel inspired to like or comment on them.
  3. I like your book reviews, but don’t feel compelled to comment on them.
  4. I don’t like your attitude.
  5. I don’t like or comment on anyone’s posts. Don’t feel so special.
  6. You don’t write enough non-book review posts.
  7. Other.

I don’t know what else to include. As I’ve thought about it, I’ve come to realize that I write about a lot of things. It seems to me that something would appeal to most everyone. Among the topics I’ve written about include book reviews, Christianity, creative writing, depression, family, health, hockey, life, music, NHL, Philip K. Dick, Pittsburgh Penguins, poetry, politics, publishing, religion, reviews, science fiction, sports, and writing. Surely there’s something there to interest most people, right? I guess not. Not if you go by my stats. Well, here’s to no one reading this post.

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