Shazam Quest is just a week away, so I'd better start limbering up. I haven't written much of anything lately. I haven't done much of anything lately except my job-- er, jobs-- which I like, but which are not strictly fascinating to read about.

Whenever I feel slightly over-worked or stressed, I tend to go into hermit mode. It's my basic means of coping with stress. I don't answer my phone unless it's important. I don't go out; I try to avoid spending any money at all on anything other than absolute necessities like food & soap. I lay around at home. Play some Emmylou Harris records. Surf the net. Kinda like I'm doing now. It's not so bad.

Today, all the windows & both doors in the house are wide open. It's a gorgeous summer day. Mid-80s, blue sky sunny. The city I live in, Bellingham, sits at the foot of a massive snow-capped volcano called Kulshan (or Mount Baker). On a clear day, it seems impossibly close. Like walking distance. It's always startling to be in shorts and t-shirt-- barefoot even, maybe down by the bay-- and look over your shoulder to see this barren, icy white glacier looming right above the town.

Something about looking up at Koma Kulshan seems symbolic of my whole situation. It's certainly wonderful just to be down here at bottom, but I can't help thinking "Wouldn't it be cool to be up there on the peak right now? I wonder if I could manage that climb... What gear would I need? What training?" I don't want to belabor this metaphor too much, but you see what I mean.

Let's talk goals again. That's what this is really all about. I'm a lazy person by nature; I wouldn't be working nearly this hard if I didn't have some definite, attainable goals in mind. If you're wondering what I've been so intensely focused on, well, here it is:

Short-term (as soon as I can save-up the cash):

  1. Buy a bike.
  2. Buy a futon.
  3. Buy a guitar.
  4. Get my passport.

Mid-term (by August 31st, 107 days and counting):

  1. Move into a studio downtown. (I currently share a house with two other guys and I'm really looking forward to having my own space again)

  2. Decide on a permanent 2nd job and get hired. (My current side-job at the greenhouse only runs through the summer. As it stands now, working 2 jobs is the only way I'll be able to afford the rent if I move into my own studio.)

  3. Park my car for good. (I only drive about 50 miles a month as it is. With a little extra effort-- and a decent bike-- I could drop that down to zero.)

Long-term (by 2012. One year into a five-year plan. None of these have changed since 2007):

  1. Finish my long-putoff Bachelor's degree, become a scientist.
  2. Meet a girl. Fall in love. Get married.
  3. Payoff all of my debts to zero.
  4. Buy a sailboat.
  5. Walk the Pacific Crest Trail from Canada to Mexico.

Somewhere in there I'd like to code a completely revised interface for E2. Somewhere in there I'd like to write a thousand nodes. Somewhere in there I'd like to travel around and meet every single one of you in person. Somewhere in there I'd like to carve out the time & energy to at least return my voicemails promptly.

For now, I'm sorry. Please forgive me for not making it a higher priority. I'm happy out here, but the life I've set in front of me is fairly challenging. Give me time.

~ RP

So a chance comment on LiveJournal led to some renewed contact with Wuukiee, which led me back to e2. 4 years I've been gone, almost to the day (according to my last write-up, anyhow). I barely remembered my username, let alone my password. It took a few tries before the password recovery box sent out my password, I was that rusty on my own name here.

The only problem now? I don't even remember what email I used here 4 years ago, let alone still have access to it! This is where the awesome that is TheDeadGuy comes into play.

Not only did he change my email to a current one, he reset my password for me, and enable me to recover access to my account, and my nice, soothing blue-and-lavender site theme. I spent several minutes wading through 4 years worth of Klaproth and Cool Man Eddie messages, and then I noticed the catbox...

TheDeadGuy was relating some work stories about the soothing, pacifying power of an orgasm on the violently autistic - and you know what? I felt right at home again. ^_^

TheDeadGuy's comments in today's editor log touched a nerve with me.

Recently, Junkill and Dimview came to my house for dinner. And delightful dinner guests they were too. Very easy to talk to, opinionated, courteous and generous. The best kind of dinner guests. We ate Beef with red wine and juniper berry stew, with a cheese board and quite a few bottles of wine.

Before AspieMum and the AspieKids came home, the three of us fell to talking about E2, as noders do when we gather together. The general feeling was positive. Things are on the up. But interestingly, in the light of The deceased one's comments, we -- well mostly me -- made an analogy between leisure time and currency. As the users of E2 get older, get married, find themselves with responsible jobs, families, significant others, there is less time to do the stuff that we enjoy doing.

Which means a lot of us have to choose how best to employ that leisure time. We choose between going on the web, watching TV, talking to our friends and family, enjoying hobbies and pastimes, studying, working, gardening, cooking and all those other activities which eat into our free time.

It's like income. Once the housing, food and bills are paid for, there's some money left over and we have to choose how to spend it.

Those of us who enjoy E2 choose to spend some of our spare leisure time here. But when real life starts to intrude, then real life takes priority. So E2 has to compete for our time, along with facebook and Livejournal and all those other possible activities.

Does E2 offer enough to keep us spending our leisure time here? That's a purely personal decision. For me, it does. There was a time when it didn't and I found other places to go with my precious leisure time. E2 has changed. In my opinion, for the better.So I choose to stay and to contribute in my own small way.

All I will say is that being a parent has shown me that positive feedback is considerably more effective in encouraging desired behaviour than negative feedback. I went through a phase of punishing my kids when they did something wrong. It didn't really change their behaviour. It led to a lot of shouting and anger.

Now, having learned better, I reward good behaviour -- or rather the behaviour I want to encourage -- and try as best as I can to ignore the bad stuff.

It works. It really does work. Our household is a calmer, happier place. We all achieve a lot more. The kids have learned to behave more appropriately. And so have I.

That's the way to encourage people to stay and spend their leisure hours here, rather than elsewhere. Accentuate the positive. Reward desireable behaviour and talk -- and listen - about things that can be changed. To me, it looks like that's the way E2 is headed. It's not doom and gloom. It's change. Change for the better.

Is it possible to do the same with E2? I think so. I try to upvote or ignore or send a /msg. I do sometimes downvote, but I'm trying to change my own behaviour. It's not always easy, but it works in other spheres. There's no reason why similar strategies can't work on E2. If we choose to use them.

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