Meta Monday & the Attack of the Creative Heart

I have a luxury that, I would guess, many people who post stuff online don’t have.

I don’t need to generate an income from this.

I’m lucky. I can blog without ads. I can post without sponsored content. Dabble in new media without penalty for failure. I can pay my hosting bills with my real job. This is a hobby. A pasttime. An indulgence.

That means that after a year and a half of writing, five hundred and seven days of effort and three hundred and eighteen posts in — and though there about thirty or so readers who I get to hear from now and then — the fact that I don’t have a million subscribers (and probably never will) nor viral content on this site doesn’t really concern me too much. It’s like we’re doing a small, initimate theatre show here: just a few of us in a cozy room with me up on stage doing my thing, and that’s kinda how I like it.

On the flip side, I have a kid who cruelly laughs at the small number beside by social stats because so-and-so teenage youtuber has eight million subscribers or such-and-such streamer in his early twenties on twitch has thirty million subs and a gazillion bucks and ”geeze, dad, you’re barely even…”

On another flip side, I’m what some of you might call a “Creative Soul” or “Artistic” or (as I like to fashion it) “Inspired to Make Stuff” and, as I mentioned, blessed with the luxury of time and resources to do so.

I’ve often written on the sidelines of this project that I have a lot of reasons to write and to continue writing. It’s cheaper than therapy, for one. But also it drives this cycle of writing about the stuff I do and so doing stuff to have something to write about about, and so on and so on and so on.

I’ve also mentioned previously on this blog times and efforts when I’ve dabbled in other projects adjacent (and not so much adjacent) to this project. (Did you know I play classical violin in a local orchestra, for example??) I like the whole Cast Iron Guy project because I get to write about things I enjoy doing, foods I like cooking, and places I like exploring, and thus I do, cook, and explore more so that I have things to write about. The aforementioned cycle works out great for me.

That said, I have other stuff I work on, and other channels I like to work in.

I used to do a lot of photography.

I used to draw a web comic.

I used to dabble in video editing.

I used to write novels (though I never did publish one!)

Last summer, I took a break from writing here. A year ago the push to press the publish button on the daily (which I don’t attempt anymore) seemed to conflict with taking some vacation and enjoying the outdoor weather. This summer I don’t think I’m going to take that break. I think, instead, I’m going to branch out and add depth and complexity to this Cast Iron Guy project. More stuff. More side projects. More experimentation in other media.

(On a side note, I’ve been backburnering a change of ”brand” and updating the name and general theme on this site to something that is less focused on cooking, but until I go at least two days in a row thinking that’s a good idea it’s not getting much traction even in my own head!)

Some of the things I’m working on include:

I added some galleries last year and I’m going to try and get my camera out more to enhance those over the summer. Hopefully you’ll see more photos.

I already posted about my new Youtube channel where I have a couple ideas to post videos if not regularly, then at least sporadically with some frequency, with films and clips that I think might be interesting and fun to record.

I’m toying with the idea and preliminary work of recording a simple podcast, but I haven’t completely got my head around the format and formula yet. I figure it will take a few episodes before that gels into something I really like and want to write more about.

And of course, on top of all of this, I want to get out and explore, travel, do a lot more drawing, writing, and generally enhancing of my content on this blog as it already is, including longer format articles with more focused topics, more photos and videos to accompany the posts, and overall stuff that I think could entertain those folks who already read my posts while attracting others and building a bigger community around the adventure seekers lifestyle.

It’s a creative-heart attack. I think those are healthy.

And this is hobby, pasttime and an indulgence, and I can try new things without worrying that I’m going to bankrupt myself. A year and a half on, a little more than five hundred days of Cast Iron Guy blog, it’s time to see what I can do with this whole thing.

The summer looks to be full of adventure, filming, sketching, recording, and building a collection of interesting stories to share here… and not because I have to, but because I get to.

Meta Monday & Moving Forward

The inevitable question that every blogger faces is balancing all the pieces of time, effort, content, ideas, and purpose.

You may have noticed (if you are a regular reader) that as of late my posting rate has dropped off to somewhere much lower than daily.

This has been a factor of a number of things: a vacation that spanned into the New Year, the never-ending pandemic which I assumed would end much sooner and leave me open to exploring more adventure content, a couple other little side projects that have captured my attention, work (of course) which is getting busier with a couple big new projects, and so many other little details.

That said, I love writing here and it gives me so much joy to explore cooking and adventure and running and all the other little topics I write about in a space that is my own.

But I also want that to be a quality effort.

Posting daily is a great way to be consistent and force yourself to write, but it also leads to (and I’ll be the first to admit this) a lot of filler content.

And maybe, who knows, someday I’ll be inspired to write here daily again and keep up that pace that I tried so frantically (yes, it’s a lot of work) to keep in 2021.

For now, however, I’m going to keep writing but continue as I’ve done for the first month of this year so far on longer, more carefully planned and written content that is on topic and interesting to readers. I’ll try to write, say, three or so posts per week but in doing so avoid the sidebars and more casual “filler” writing to hit a daily post quota.

With nearly three hundred posts in my archives, this blog is not going anywhere … but hopefully the next three hundred will hone closer into my original mission of bringing my readers interesting ideas about uncomplicated things, life lived, and a mindset that reflects the philosophical practicality of well-seasoned cast iron frying pan, enduring, simple, down-to-earth & extremely useful… just not daily.

Don’t Take Participation for Granted

You can read these words.

You have access to knowledge unknown and unfathomable to any generation before you.

You are online, connected, exploring big ideas and complex thoughts.

Explain a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021.

I restarted blogging at the beginning of 2021 after a fairly long absence from the sport. I put fingers to keys once again not because I think I have anything particularly important to say or even to add to a conversation already a billion-voices-strong, but because everyone should be able to have a space among those voices.

Everyone should at the very least be able to participate.

Equally. And if not, then equitably.

This is definitely not the case right now.

Voices are amplified because they are already louder.

Voices are lifted because they come from someone famous.

Voices go viral because they say something ridiculous, hateful, dumb, or nonsensical.

Some people like to talk about deplatforming.

Some people opt to complain about cancel culture.

Others seem to be hung up on who has the right to speak about one thing versus another thing.

We can and should have authorities on topics of importance, voices who speak with weight on certain topics or issues or policies. We should hear those voices and measure them against rational, thoughtful indicators of truth, reason, and the tools by which we measure the same.

But we should all participate in the conversation. At the very least, weigh in, converse, listen, and hear each other. Participate in two-way or a billion-way exchanges of position, idea, and respect.

This is definitely not the case right now.

You can read these words. You are participating. I am participating. We shouldn’t take that for granted. It is a gift, a responsibility, and part of being alive in this time when we all live.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.

Not Created Equal

Not all websites are created equally.

Take this site. As a real estate analogy, this is a cabin in the woods. This blog is the digital version of a weekend getaway, stuffed with comforts and curiosities, eclectic bits of cookware, and eccentric tchotchkes piled onto the shelves to add an atmosphere of warmth while still giving it all a human touch.

What made your job
interesting in 2021?

On the other hand, the website that I oversee for work is a large glass-paneled government skyscraper downtown, with elevators speeding between the floors and strict rules for how the queues to each service desk are designed, and careful attention to detail given to the colors of the wall paint and the placement of the signage pointing out everything from the washrooms to the lost and found to the exit.

I don’t write about my work, at least not often, because there is such a stark contrast between what I am paid to build over there and what I build for fun over here.

And I think buried in that explanation is a little of what makes my job interesting, too.

Not everyone understands websites, and less so do people understand the vast chasm of differences that are buried beneath the design, purpose and function of those websites. Maybe that is a broad assumption, but I see evidence of such a conjecture if not daily, then multiple times per week.

We need to think more like Starbucks. Someone will say.

I reply that Okay, yes… we can learn from Starbucks but Starbucks is a little shop on the corner that sells coffee and fills its humbly lit spaces with warm, inviting leather chairs and groovy popular jazz. We are required to use plastic seating and provide ample lighting. How can we translate that vibe into something useful?

The analogy breaks down quickly, obviously.

People see something that works and while they are not wrong in the simplification, they are also often unaware that there is a huge gap — technically, functionally, even philosophically — between what our corporate website does versus what Facebook does versus what that food delivery app does versus what a little blog in the winter wilderness (quietly run by one and the same person as the first) is meant to be… and do… and say.

And in that they are not wrong but merely interested in a design problem, the part of my job that becomes interesting in return is attempting to take the energy of such a vision and translating it into a plan for someone else to write code that can be uploaded and integrated and activated into a tool that, say, sells bus fares with the same fluidity that Starbucks dispenses lattes.

Meanwhile, I can write and say and post and design this little cabin in the wilderness exactly the way I want to. Right here. Warm, cozy, curious, and inviting.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.