The unwanted and uncalled-for sequel

This is a follow-up video to a series of still images that I took five years ago, and I realized right as I was finishing the editing that I missed the anniversary date by only a couple of days. I couldn’t have posted on the precise day anyway, because my video account has a weekly limit and I’d exceeded it with the previous offering.

And I probably shouldn’t be posting this anyway. I went out late one night, or early one morning if you like being pedantic, casually looking around with the headlamp, and happened across my subjects here. The behavior wasn’t typical, leading me to believe that something might be about to happen, so I quickly fetched the Canon T2i, video light, and mini-tripod. This took all of five minutes or less, but I missed the opening of Act One. I shot most of the rest in detail, then switched to the second pair of subjects and captured the entire sequence with them – timing was on my side in that regard, since they could have easily started while I was occupied with the first couple.

Why am I being so vague, you ask? Because it’s a lot more fun this way. Without further ado, I present the video to let you find out the hard way what I’m talking about.

The previous experience with exactly this subject can be found here, and I’m quite proud of both the title and the writing therein, which tells you far too much about me. For the record, these are leopard slugs (Limax maximus,) and yes, they’re huge. And very fond of brick too, so it’s paramount that one watches the front steps when going out at night. I have a wicked tendency to go barefoot in the summer, but these humongous bastards have almost broken me of that habit.

I have to note that I did a bit of web searching to try and determine more details about what was captured here, but didn’t turn up a lot. And I was unwilling to delve into it further because, you know, such searches are being saved, cataloged, and examined for “national security” and all that rot – I didn’t want to appear fanatical or anything. Trust me, this is all academic, detached observational kind of thing; I’m not especially motivated to pursue such subjects. No, really. But I’ll admit it’s kinda annoying to have this whole webbernets thing and then feel self-conscious about actually using it. Like, is there a better technical term for that blue thing, even though most sources call it a penis? That seems kind of sexist to me – it should be a vaginis to me, but is there a proper Latin term? And what’re those white blobs being discarded? Probably not condoms, I’m guessing…

Meanwhile, I could have sworn I posted some of these photos back when I took them, but can find no record of it either within the blog or in the published images folders, so I guess we take care of it here.

cluster of invertebrate eggs, likely leopard slug Limax maximus
Back in 2012, before my first experience with bumping sluglies, I found this cluster of eggs underneath a crate in the side yard. At this point of course, no details could be discerned at all, so I couldn’t be sure what they were.

closeup image of developing fetus through transparent eggshell, likely leopard slug Limax maximus
I checked back on them as they were developing, and despite getting really lucky with the lighting, didn’t get enough detail from the fetus to even give an idea of what they were. “Caspar” would be my best guess based on the appearance, but I don’t think ghosts are hatched from eggs – they’re probably live-born. Or dead-born. Whatever.

hatching slugs likely leopard slug Limax maximus
Not much later on, the mystery was solved to a reasonable degree, especially given the size of the eggs and the cluster thereof – there’s probably no other species that could produce the sheer mass. Each individual egg was about 5mm across, if memory serves, which doesn’t seem too significant until you sum up a few dozen; it certainly wasn’t a typical garden slug that weighed about the same as three of the eggs. So I’m pretty comfortable saying that, yes, someplace not far away there will be, if there isn’t already, a cluster or four very similar to these. Should I go looking for them? It’s your call.

But you knew that already

unidentified swimming/floating beetles, possibly whirligig beetles family GyrinidaeI said that I would reveal what the month-end abstract was, and so I have returned, later than intended but bearing gifts for all (one of which is coming up very soon.) At right is another version of the same subject, taken at the same time but with a much faster shutter speed. In certain small areas of lakes, ponds, and streams, a variety of swimming beetle can be found at times, charcoal grey but shiny, swimming at great speed in elaborate zigzags. These are, most likely, a variety of whirligig beetles, family Gyrinidae, but since I have yet to obtain a closeup image or capture one for better examination, this identification remains tentative. They’re about a centimeter long and half that wide, and virtually always congregate in groups. It’s not the first time that I’ve photographed them either, but I’ve never made the effort to capture one for detail shots, so I may have to rectify that soon.

To produce the abstract, I simply aimed almost straight down at a cluster of them whipping around and dragged the shutter a little, as in, 1/13th second, which was enough to let them blur through the frame – the curious light trails were provided by reflections from the water and possibly their shiny backs. If you go back to that image, you’ll also see some faint curling traces left by sunlight reflecting from other ripples not caused by the beetles. I was wading in the shallows of Jordan Lake for this one, and they darted away only when I got too close, which was a little less than a meter – if I take along a small minnow net I could probably snag one with a couple of tries.

unidentified beetle possibly whirligig beetle family Gyrinidae pausing on water surface
This is probably the best closeup shot that I have of the species, which isn’t saying much, but there are some cooler images to be found here. On that page I speculated that they were Hydrophilidae, but those are diving beetles and tend to be larger, so I’m correcting myself here without even knowing if I’m correct – I’m probably wrong on both counts, and the next six tries as well. Hey, you come here for the photos, not the entomology lessons. Or if you do, well, you’re in trouble…

Per the ancient lore, part 25

brown pelican Pelecanus occidentalis under Eau Gallie Causeway
I know you’ve gotten the pattern down and are keeping track, so I don’t have to tell you what folder this comes from; it’s a mere accident of timing that it coincides with the end of the month, and if I felt like cheating, I’d let this serve double duty, but since I already have a month-end abstract, I’ll keep the post count up.

And we’ve seen this causeway from the top, but now we have to view it from the underside. In fact, if you look carefully at that linked photo, you’ll see a distant sign just left of center in the image, and a break in the guardrails right next to it; that’s the head of the stairs that led down the water level and access to this point underneath. I took up a very careful position down there to line up the repeating patterns of the support columns, and liked the pelican for its intrusion into this pattern, except I think it grounds it a bit too much in mundanity. As can be seen by the vertical striped stains on the horizontal crossbars, this locale was a huge favorite of perching birds: pelicans, cormorants, anhingas, ducks, the occasional heron, and so on.

pedestrian in distance bombing shotBut wait! I captured something else too, wholly unintentionally, and didn’t even know it until editing the photo quite some time afterward. Way in the distance, hundreds of meters off on the other side of the channel and causeway, someone crossed the frame along a similar pathway as my own – shame they never thought to stop and take a picture, ’cause we could have had some weird kind of synchronicity thing going on. Trust the other person to screw up a great opportunity…

Looking at this now I realize that, had I been down there at the right time, I could have caught a sailboat passing through the channel, right in mid-pattern – might have made a cool composition. I’d shot a couple from the top of the causeway, but didn’t really hang around on the underside much because there wasn’t any reason to. Even my snorkel spots were a ways behind my shooting position, in shallower water and well away from the possibility of oblivious boating traffic. I’d say something like, “Maybe next time,” but I’m honestly considering the chances of my returning to this area pretty low right now; the next Florida trip is likely going to be aimed at more scenic and productive areas for photography, mostly the Gulf coast and the Everglades. But we’ll see.

Sayonara, August!

You're trying to cheat aren't you?
And so August goes its merry way, but not without firing off its parting shot of an abstract image. And just to show you what kind of guy I am, I’m not going to jump right in and blurt out what this is an image of, but I’m going to let you figure it out for yourself instead. If you get stumped, I’ll be along eventually (before the decade is out, most likely) and fill you in as needed, but I’m confident that won’t be necessary.


Great blue heron Ardea herodias peering straight down from directly overhead
A few days back, the Missing Mr Bugg had finally finished with all his summer chores and we had another outing, the first since early May; it was moderately productive but not as much as either of us would have liked. Nonetheless, we both have a selection of useful photos, and I gave him plenty of time to rectify the horrible neglect he’s been showing his blog, but as of this writing he still hasn’t posted anything, so I guess it’s up to me. Yet again.

More will be coming, but I had to post this one just for the expression and odd angle. While we watched, a territorial dispute between two great blue herons (Ardea herodias) resulted in one cruising across the lake and alighting in a tree almost directly over our heads. I had lost sight of it among the branches just as it touched down, but knew it had to be within a very small area, not to mention that it was gurking softly to itself as we quietly shifted back and forth beneath it trying for a glimpse – and it still took two minutes to spot the bulky bird. It wasn’t as horrified by our presence as it appears here, spending time looking out over the water and carefully watching an unleashed (of course) dog that was shambling through the immediate vicinity. The owner none-too-quietly informed us of the number of birds that could be seen in the area, blissfully unaware of us both pointing long lenses into the tree canopy directly overhead and speaking in hushed tones. There’s a reason that I don’t like popular parks…

By the way, this is a good example of why you should know how to shut off autofocus quickly and without looking at the switch. In such conditions, the camera is likely to lock onto anything except the eyes of the bird, which is the primary point of attention for the image, and you’ll need to get focus back where it belongs quickly. Meanwhile, this shows the useful eye-alignment of herons (and many other waders,) able to see straight down under its chin – its beak is aimed slightly downwards here, but far from directly towards us. For birds like the American bittern, this placement allows the bird to view its entire surroundings while its beak is pointed straight up in camouflage mode, making it appear like water reeds – plus it permits watching the ground underneath its perch for predators, and probably even assists in spotting food in the very water the bird is wading within. This probably means that thousands of years in the future, nature photographers will have big protruding eyes that allow them to see all of the potential subjects that might be around them.*

* Assuming, of course, that nature photographers gain preferential mating privileges through their activities, which is a highly debatable factor…

I am about to outdo myself

It’s 3 AM, and I’ve just come back inside from filming/videoing something in the backyard, and all I can say right now is, it will likely remain the most bizarre thing that I’ve captured on video for quite a long time to come. It all started when I just took the headlamp out and poked around a little bit to see what could be found, and stumbled across (well, not literally, thank dog) something that, you know, boded. Thinking I should get video of it if I was correct, I came inside and got the camera and light unit, taking only a couple of minutes to do so, and when I came back out I found that my suspicions were well-founded.

I’m being vague because I’m not going to spoil it, while it isn’t appearing yet because I still have the post-processing to do, and it’s late and I’m going to get some sleep. Which might be a mistake, considering what I’ve just seen. The worst part (so far) is, I might have to wait a week because I nearly reached my weekly upload limit on Vimeo with yesterday’s video – it all depends on how long this one is, though I suspect I can slip it in under the wire. Don’t get too anxious though, because you may very well regret it. The only other thing I’ll say right now is, think of the most disgusting thing that you’ve seen here, because I now have the same, but in living motion.

Podcast: Hybridcast

Today is Highly Debatable Humor Day, when we celebrate those examples of humor where the appeal could be wildly subjective; if you don’t find it amusing, well, you’re in accordance with a certain percentage of victims listeners/viewers, so just take heart in the idea that you’re not alone.

I kinda jammed it all together with this one. What started out as an idea for a longish photo post soon revealed itself to be way too long for a written and illustrated page (yeah, even for me, so you know that’s saying something.) Plus I had a couple of other incidentals to mention, and hadn’t done a podcast recently. So we get this podcast/slideshow/video clip compilation that probably doesn’t do justice to any format. And yet, I’m still not shooting vertical video on a smutphone…

Further details on schtuff therein:

The Original Ceylon Tea Company – Best Earl Grey that I’ve found yet.

Tardis Tea from Adagio Teas – Also very good – the tin is cool, but The Girlfriend’s Sprog stole that from me. Also check out the IngenuiTEA infuser, because screw tea bags (there’s an off-color joke in the making there, but I think we’ve had our fill of those for the time being.)

96-LED macro video lightTwo things that I neglected to mention regarding the video clips – they made it into the first attempt that was thwarted by post-nasal drip, and I forgot them the second time around. I obtained a little 96-LED portable light source that runs on 4 AA batteries or a USB powerbank, and that’s what was used for the two clips seen here – it’s light enough to be supported on an articulated arm (on its shoe mount or 1/4-20 tripod socket,) works fabulously for macro video, is reasonably diffuse, and is even dimmable. There are lots of versions on Ebay, and I have to say it was well worth the trivial price.

The second bit is, I’m still using the off-camera monitor, which helps with macro work significantly, but it has one effect that you can see in the video: aiming the camera is no longer an intuitive thing. For instance, holding it in a bracket down below waist level and framing with the monitor means that tracking a moving subject, or simply pointing the camera in the right direction, is a lot more challenging. Yes, I need more practice, thank you Captain Obvious, but I’m offering this as a warning to those getting started in it like I am.

Now, the part where I mentioned that the camera had some kind of tracking error that led to weird lines towards the bottom of the frame? Yeah, maybe you didn’t see that effect at all – it might actually be the fault of the video player that I’m using in Linux, and/or the screen resolution of the same. I also had some weird issues with the first rendering of this hybridcast, stray frames appearing at the very end of fade effects, and that is a known issue with the OpenShot editing program; a little websearch provided a simple solution, so never neglect your Google-Fu when you run into an issue (the solution, should you encounter the problem yourself, is to move the offending clip to an extra track, which seems to eradicate the frame blip for some reason.)

Did you notice that I had the directions reversed on Bar Sinister and Bar Dexter? Good – keep it to yourself, hotshot.

And finally, a reiterated public service message:

Don't shoot phone video vertically dipshit

Per the ancient lore, part 24

cuban treefrog Osteopilus septentrionalis high in fronds of date palm I think
Okay, no cheating now by looking at the image tags, page tags, or past Ancient Lore posts: what’s the topic here?

I’ll provide a little hint: This was taken on the same evening as two Lore posts back, with the help of the same function of the camera. Ah ah! No scrolling now – you have to rely on memory. It was only two weeks ago.

Figure it out yet? Don’t you hate it when people challenge you to trivial little bullshit like this, as if it’s a reflection of your comparative cleverness?

So the first bit is, we’re down to the Reptiles/Amphibians folder again. Do you want me to pause here while you give it another go?

More specifically, our subject is that bright pinkish spot down towards the bottom and slightly left, which is the reflection of the camera flash from the dilated eyes of a Cuban treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis,) perched up there in the fronds of what I believe is a date palm. I was scoping out the area using the infra-red function of the camera, and believe me, frogs’ eyes reflect infra-red at least as much as they do visible light, possibly more.

Almost the same image in infra-redBut you don’t have to believe me though, because I can show you – trust me, I’ll never require you to trust me. It’s easy to see why I exclaimed, “Whoa!” when the lens pointed in this critter’s direction. In fact, it made me regret that we (remember, I was out there with my brother that evening) never saw something that I’ve caught a few times in the same park, which was an alligator floating in the water. Their eyes are super-reflective, shining back brilliantly orange as brightly as a road reflector, better than any other animal that I’ve seen. One night, from a moderate distance, I caught the reflection in a water channel, and slowly crept closer to try and see more of the gator. I was fairly certain, from the size of the channel and the bare fact that I never did make out any aspect of its head, that it was a pretty small specimen, but before I could determine this for sure, it was spooked by my approach and dipped out of sight beneath the surface. Alligators generally have different reputations, depending on whether you live in Florida and have firsthand experience of them, or elsewhere and rely on the stories and folklore. Bluntly, they’re pretty shy unless it’s an area where they’re habituated to close contact, and then they’re largely blasé. This was not such an area.

A more indicative encounter, if you can call it that, occurred another night when I bicycled down to the park. Most of the ride could take place near streetlights and adequate illumination that made a headlamp unnecessary, so I arrived at the park riding dark, as it were. The entrance was better than sixty meters from the water’s edge and I was coasting as silently as it’s possible to get, but the moment I came into the pool of light from the first of the parking lot streetlamps, there came a frenetic splashing from the vicinity of the boat ramps, where at least one alligator (which sounded sizable) beat a hasty retreat into the water to avoid any potential contact. Just remember that if you’re thinking of starting trouble with me.

Totally tubular

It’s been a while since I featured something from Ze Frank (or is it zefrank?) and I’m happy to rectify that with this latest offering:

I was originally going to leave it at that and be happy, but two things intervened:

1) I haven’t been posting enough anyway;

2) I’ve had some images kicking around for years and have never written about them, even though I’ve been meaning to.

And so, reminded of this, I present a couple of organisms that may be related. Or may not.

When living in Florida, on one of the Atlantic beaches I noticed some odd rock formations. First off, this was notable because very little of the Atlantic seaboard shows any rock at all; it’s sand as far as you care to dig. But on closer inspection, it turns out it wasn’t actually rock anyway.

colonies of unknown tubular organism
From the right angle, the myriad openings could be seen, revealing that the rocks were actually large colonies of some tubeworm or similar organisms, all aligned the same way. I imagine (because I honestly couldn’t tell you what the facts are) this was for two reasons: because building onto your neighbors’ structures was easier and sturdier than creating a freestanding one, and because one direction was optimum for feeding. These ‘rocks’ were pretty damn strong, able to be walked on, and close inspection showed them to be mostly sand cemented together. I never saw any indication of occupancy, so they might have been old and abandoned, but I also discovered them at low tide and it’s pretty likely that the occupants wouldn’t be seen until they were completely submerged at high tide anyway.

unknown tubeworm organisms in greater detail
From other angles, the structures could be taken to be simply rougher rock or sand accretions, since the tubular shapes, made from sand and shell fragments, were hard to distinguish from any side that didn’t show the openings. Now, at this time I had been working on something to allow me to shoot macro photos underwater without submerging the camera (I might feature this later on,) but this project wasn’t completed yet and so I had no way of seeing what happened at high tide. And at no point since have I ever encountered anyone who could tell me more about what I found. But as you can likely surmise from the photos, there were perhaps hundreds of thousands of these unidentified critters living in these beachfront condos.

On another trip, I found something else washed up on shore, almost certainly long-abandoned, but much more distinctive in material and structure.

tight cluster colony of unknown tube organism
These tubes definitely appear to be calcium-based at least, and are quite tough for their thin structure. I took these to be a form of ‘feather duster,’ a common name for the Family Sabellidae of the polychaetes, because I’d seen something very similar before in a friend’s aquarium. However, those were individualistic, and only one species forms a tube from calcium carbonate and they’re off Australia. Not to mention that, had they possessed the fanlike appendages like those shown in the video, colonies this tightly-packed would have been actively interfering with one another constantly, so I doubt they were the same type of organism.

calcium tube colony in palmThis photo shows scale a little better, and I can simply tell you that the tube openings are right around 1mm in diameter because I still have this specimen – anyone that wants to see it in person should drop me an e-mail; I’ll tell you how to get here and we’ll make a party of it. Perhaps I’ll hold a contest to see who can guess closest to the actual number of tubes in this small specimen, the winner getting… ummmm… something appropriate, anyway. I’ll need to charge a decent entry fee to compensate me for counting all those motherfuckers. Maybe, if I get bored, I’ll saw one end off cleanly and make a really cool set of pan pipes from this cluster…

And one more, because I’m on the subject and have the photos handy.

Several years ago during a beach trip, I collected a recently-washed-ashore cluster of weeds and debris, all tangled in fishing line, and with it came a handful of the tiniest hermit crabs that you’ve ever seen. This meant that I had to do a macro aquarium session.

hermit crab on debris tube habitat of unidentified organism
What brings this into the same post is the very thing that the hermit crab is clambering upon, which is another tube of an unknown and unseen marine denizen; it’s so well camouflaged here that it’s hard to make out, but it’s laying horizontally and stretching across the frame (and well beyond.) This one was definitely very flexible, probably a little smaller in diameter than a pencil, and liberally festooned with dead vegetation and bits of shell – it seems likely this wasn’t a buried tube but existed above the sand surface, and could probably sway in the current. And this also gives you a good idea of how small the crab was; while we’re here, we’ll have a closer look.

detail shot of very small hermit crab
Don’t ask me to try and identify this species, because I wouldn’t even know where to begin – it seems obvious this is a very young one and possibly bears few characteristics of an adult. But I am impressed that it can still find a cone shell to match – it seems these come in a huge variety of sizes too. And yes, there’s something attached to the crab’s shell and riding along, but I’m not trying to identify that either. It might be related to the little membranous thing that I video’d many years ago, but the shape is different, so all bets are off.

One of these days, I’ll come across some live specimens of such finds, in a manner where they can be photographed effectively, and do a follow-up post. This is naturally going to mean more beach trips but, you know, I’ll just have to make that sacrifice for my voluminous readership. You all mean that much to me.

Lost at sea on this one

There are a lot of blogs out there that focus on personal hardships, the emotional experience, and the kind of common neuroses that most humans are prone to, and I’ve made it a point not to get involved in such things. Which is not to say that I don’t think they have their place sometimes (The Bloggess is one of those that I follow semi-regularly,) but that it’s just not my approach, and you will rarely hear about the personal events going on in my life, and especially not the things that I dither about.

Except for one. I have occasionally mentioned this before, but not too often, I don’t think. The very nature of this neurosis is that it’s somewhat self-referential, kind of a “Am I being too paranoid?” thing.

Here’s the deal: I would like to be more popular and more recognized through my web presence. Not famous in any way, because I don’t think I’d like that, but having my images and even some of my writing published elsewhere a lot more often. Certainly to the point where I could get paid closer to a living wage for doing something that I liked, anyway. The problem is, I have no idea how to go about it.

Or maybe I do, and I’m simply not good enough to garner the attention. While I like a lot of my images, and the writing in more than a couple of posts here, this could simply be a manifestation of the Dunning-Kruger effect (PDF link,) where failing to recognize one’s shortcomings can sometimes lead to overestimating one’s abilities; people that think they did really good on a test are often incorrect about it. You see what I’m saying about neuroses now? Should I keep plugging away until I hate my own work? Somehow I don’t think that’s a viable game plan…

[I have to note here that, as I was preparing to write this post, I couldn’t remember ‘Dunning-Kruger effect’ and did a web search. The first several links that I turned up were all along the lines of “You’re smarter than you think!”, which was exactly the opposite of the search term I’d entered – but undoubtedly click-bait headlines and a lot more popular. I saved a few links for later.]

Don’t get the impression that I haven’t been trying to find the way to make this happen. I’ve gone through more than a few sources regarding gaining recognition and popularity, and have been following a certain amount of the advice provided. Now, social media long ago convinced me of its own worthlessness, and my personal experience with it merely confirmed this finding. But I’ve listened to many of the people who became known for their work before social media was even a thing, and much of this entire site is predicated on that advice. So far, it hasn’t really worked. So again, do I suck? Am I missing something subtle but damaging?

Or, is it simply a mistaken impression? You can ask a lottery winner what they did to strike it rich, but their routine or lucky numbers or faith in veganism is meaningless – it was strictly random. And for perhaps a lot of those successful people, I suspect that this is the case. Not to denigrate the accomplishments of anyone out there, because obviously their skills are maintaining their popularity and such, but there are a ridiculous number of websites to be found, and perhaps it’s just a matter of happenstance that brings attention to them and starts the ball rolling. Useful information isn’t about what happened once, but what worked for the majority of people who tried it. And who’s even tallying that number?

There then are the other aspects. A few years back I was active on both newsgroups, for photography, and a few websites devoted to critical thinking. All of my comments, where I could, were appended with a link back to my own site, with a very basic premise in mind: if I struck you with whatever I posted there, you would be able to find more by following the link. Low-key, admittedly, but respectful and not at all intrusive. And truth be told, occasionally it worked, as I could tell from the site statistics.

But then a few things happened. Newsgroups died, partially from internet providers halting free access to the servers, requiring users to pay outside sources. And partially from human nature, becoming the playground of the socially incompetent (which is what makes social media the hypocritical joke that it is.) More and more sites, unable to figure out a few simple rules for commenting or not bothering to devote any time or money to moderation, abolished their commenting systems. And, interest in the kind of sites that I frequented just died out – which I can’t disparage, given how few I’m visiting myself anymore. So I am no longer actively drawing attention to this site, and have no good method of reinstating this either.

Smutphones, of course, deserve their own recognition here, since the tiny screens and the brief periods of time which can be devoted to them makes them the worst possible way to view a site like mine, which has a lot to do with why I spend no time accommodating them (the remainder is simply because they’re stupid.) Too many people virtually abandoned their desktop or laptop computers in favor of their phones, and so every site with content above the level of memes suffered, I’m sure.

Perhaps I was too late, starting blogging well after it became popular and missing the heyday when there were fewer, and could thus gain more attention – now, I think the general reaction is, “Oh, you’re blogging too? Cute.” The same may be said for podcasting and my forays into video, though the former is admittedly not aimed at serious public attention, and the latter even less so – video is a function of showing what still photos may miss, and so no, I won’t have a ‘channel’ any time soon, if ever. Meanwhile, the blog remains someplace to examine the subjects and approaches that make up my nature photography, as well as some philosophical musings, with a minimal dose of minutia and superficiality. [Clears throat, whistles in the dark…]

Then comes personality, perhaps. I have recognized, at times past, that I should be ‘networking’ more, making more connections with people in related fields to expand my opportunities and options – and this has never worked. In some cases it was notably a matter of bad luck, getting involved with people or organizations that had a negative effect, bad reputations, or just too few outside connections. But I’m also not a ‘people person,’ not exactly a networker to begin with – not really asocial, but I have no desire to seek out interactions with others most times, and while I can get along just fine with most people, I’m fairly straightforward and perhaps just don’t quite make the connections that I should. Is this contributing to my lack of success in this endeavor, or only a trivial factor? I have no way of knowing. Hopefully it’s not a serious hindrance, because it isn’t something that I could change easily, if at all.

And finally, I find the vast majority of marketing to be utter horseshit, in most cases condescending or pandering, and never want to be involved in anything of the sort. The fact that some of it might work better than what I’m presently doing doesn’t matter; it’s still bullshit that isn’t me. In which case, perhaps, I’m getting what I deserve.

Now I admit that I can’t even read this and not hear, someplace in the background, a plea for attention, trolling for compliments, but that’s not at all what I’m up to. I just wonder sometimes if I should be going about things differently, and if so, how? There is certainly no shortage of sources that want to answer this question, often at a fee – and no way to determine which ones aren’t simply full of shit.

Again, all of this might sound a bit neurotic, and probably is to a degree, but obviously I want something to improve here, and all advice has it that I have to work hard and make it happen, which I’m not arguing with at all. I’m just trying to determine how to make it happen – what works, and what doesn’t? What do I need to be changing? Or is it still mostly up to the whims of fate?