Young Writer Looking for Opportunity

Recently I got this email:


My name is Cliff and as I’m sure you’re busy, I’ll be brief. I’m a young writer trying to gain recognition for myself. Having recently started a sports blog called [redacted because this is probably spam] with a group of like-minded friends from college, I personally aspire to write about more than just sports.

That said, I would love an opportunity to contribute some of my own work for Muddled Ramblings in a non-paid role, as I think I can provide some great work for you and hope there is an opportunity for me to do so. Hopefully you can use someone with my particular set of skills on your team, as I’m willing to jump in wherever I can help out. I’m a pro with WordPress and blogging and a quick study when it comes to content management systems.

Here is a more recent piece I wrote on the USSSM:

[redacted because this was probably spam]

I can write about absolutely anything and would greatly appreciate the chance to work with you. I am eager to expand my topical range and make new connections.

If you’re the wrong person to speak with, I apologize and would appreciate you forwarding along my information to the right person.



I get these from time to time, and because they are so misplaced, sometimes I reply. I always hope that somewhere on the other end there is someone who appreciates the answer, even if it does them no good. I fervently hope that someday I’ll even get a response. Maybe this will be the time. Anyway, here’s what I wrote, complete with grammatical errors:

Hi Cliff,

OK, maybe.

I get offers like your from time to time, offers that make me wonder if there is a “Cliff” or a “Betsy” or whoever. Offers from people (or perhaps robots) who have clearly not visited Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas. People (or robots) who probably haven’t even read the name of the blog, since they still think I’m interested in, as you put it, “great work.” There is damn little great work here.

Also, your ability to be brief is not really a plus.

But I sense something different about you, Cliff. Something I can’t put my finger on, but I think the heart of the connection comes from your use of “college” and “sports”. Muddled Ramblings is no more about College or Sports than it is about anything else, but someone interested in sports who also went to college probably wrote more than one term paper in the small hours of the morning after doing keg stands and playing the travesty of a game kids are calling “beer pong” these days.

When I was a kid, beer pong included paddles.

I’m not interested in the term paper that scored you the ‘A’, that’s for Mainstream Media and big-money prima donnas. I want to hear about that time you were hammered and still wrote an essay that the professor had to confess was based on an “interesting idea”, and for that reason alone you got a ‘B’. Hell, even as I write this I’m partaking in blended Scotch Whiskey (I call it my “gluggin’ scotch” to differentiate it from actual sippin’ Scotch Whiskey, which is always single-malt. Don’t tell me how much you paid for the Johnnie Walker Ultraviolet Label; it’s still a blend, buckaroo), and you can bet these words will appear on Muddled Ramblings.

Truth be told, I’m often sober when I post to MR&HBI, but the spirit is always there.

So Cliff, if there is a Cliff, I’d be curious to see if you could share a bit of work in the “Muddled Style”. It probably won’t make your robot overlords happy writing something for such a small audience without links to their shit in the text, but hell, the robot overlords will have to get over it.

Just so you know going in, the revenue stream at Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas is zero. Nil, nada, nix. I pay more than I should to keep it running for one simple reason: I love doing it. If you want to participate, you have to write for the same reason. For the love.

Can you do that, Cliff?



Knives Exclusive Patron Content (hopefully) Simplified

If you are one of my treasured patrons and you have mentioned in the past that you cannot access the TOP SECRET super-awesome patron-only content, you should have received and email from me. If you are unable to access the special content, but didn’t get an email, please let me know.

The system is much simpler, but at this time it is not overly tested. Please let me know if you have any trouble.

Knives Episode 27 Released

Actually I hit the “publish” button a few days ago, but never got the announcement out. Whups.

In this episode the group, now one larger, returns to the ruin to get the thing that’s under all the bodies. Whatever is is. We learn a little more about the woman who lends her name to the title of this episode, and a little of Bags’ history as well.

Speaking of Bags’ history, I’m giving up on the Patreon plugin for WordPress that is supposed to “simplify” the process of allowing patrons to see content others can’t. It’s just not very good, and I simply don’t have enough patrons to warrant trying to fix it. This weekend I’ll set up a simpler, manual system to allow my bestest friends in the whole world to see the backstories without the current malarkey. I look forward to the day that manually granting access is overwhelming.

Also, I’ll be posting the last, sloppiest, part of Bags’ history, so I can get to the job of posting Kat’s backstory. Once I get that out I’ll start twisting arms again to get people to spread the word so we can cross the next backstory threshold.

Read the episode!


That Tingly, Geeky Feeling

My day job is building Web applications you will never see. That is by design; my apps deal with SECRET STUFF.

The first aside about failure: My first Internet application is also one you will also never see, not because of secrecy, but because it failed. We made an immersive app with a rich graphical interface that allowed people to share photos and messages with a select group of friends. The core app acted as an operating system, able to discover compatible services to provide data. It flopped. A few years later MySpace and Facebook provided crappy platforms that allowed the world to shout at each other. In retrospect my biggest mistake (among many) was assuming people valued privacy.

ANYWAY, I build Web applications. But I come from a background of developing desktop apps, and let me tell you, even now the world of Web app development is ridiculously painful. Slowly, slowly, software design principles worked out decades ago are finding their way to the Web.

Another aside about a failure: A while back I created a framework that allowed the UI (still running in a dang browser after all this time) to connect to the server with such efficiency that when anyone anywhere made a change, everyone saw it immediately. In geek terms, I created an MVC system where the central model was shared by all clients in real time. It also allowed anyone to track the entire history of every value in the system. I had a great 3D interface for that I never got to implement. The system worked so well I still get misty thinking about it. It was (still is) marketable. That project was shit-canned for reasons I could have managed better that had nothing to do with the technology.

But goddammit, I’ll fail shooting for making something great over succeeding at the mediocre, and I’ve got the track record to prove it.

I may have that chance again. I can’t be too specific (sorry for the tease), but I’m pretty excited. So this afternoon I snuck out of work early to go and… work. But fun work. Perhaps a chance to take my failures and put them together into a game-changer. I’ve come close before.



She lay her head down on the table, wild dark hair soaking up spilled beer and mingling with the guacamole. “The problem with places that never close,” she said, her airy voice barely audible over the driving ranchero music of the cantina, “is that you can never go home.”


2017: Here we go!

I don’t usually resolve things, but last year I let some good habits slip away, and this year I want them back. So by publicly declaring them here, maybe I improve my chances.

  • Writing:
    • Write SOMETHING (almost) every day
    • More detailed character descriptions
    • Settings are characters
    • It ain’t worth squat if nobody reads it
  • Health:
    • Bicycle more miles than I drive (road trips excluded)
    • Improve commute pace by 3mph
    • Resume the no-beer-until-weekly-weight-target-reached regime (starting tomorrow)
  • Life:
    • Productive procrastination — use idle time better

The health ones are all things I have done well in the past. I didn’t have to wait for the new year to restart them, except that having a week off from work and being surrounded by excellent cooks would have doomed any attempt. Bicycling was improving in December, now I have to regain that momentum.

My average-speed-during-commute goal would put me back to about the speed I was going when I was in a state the fitness experts call “not potato”.

“Use of idle time” includes fixing the terrible Patreon plugin for WordPress, continuing to improve my Swift skills (especially on Linux), coming up to speed on photo editing and workflow options to replace Aperture, and keeping the Honey Do list short. The list of “productive” things will of course change over time.

But right now, I need to go play a game on my phone.

Edit to add:

Starting numbers for mileage challenge:
Bike: 7740 miles
Car A: 151968 miles
Car B (driven by two people): 6099


Knives Episode 26 Published!

With the Big Splash at the end of the last episode, it was time for Martin to take stock and do some planning. But not before contemplating just leaving everything and going back to his normal life as thief and assassin. But, well, there’s Elena.

On the patron front, it looks like my attempt to release more backstory was, well, unsuccessful. No worries — tomorrow I will do that first thing after taking down Christmas lights.

Episodes have been a bit slow lately, what with holidays and guests invading the Writing Bunker and whatnot, but episode 27 is forming up nicely and episode 28 is solidifying.

As always, thank you to all my generous patrons. You guys rock!

Read Knives.