Your local post office is in trouble.

Problem 1: Volume

The volume of mail (letters, magazines, catalogs, and especially packages) that the United States Postal Service delivers in some areas has doubled or even tripled since 2015.

Officially, First Class Mail and package volume have generally been declining. (Source: Postal Facts: A Decade of Facts & Figures.) This doesn’t account for the fact that in rural areas and places with a high cost of living, shoppers have turned to online retailers like Amazon to buy household goods that used to be purchased locally.

According to Postal Facts, the volume of First Class Mail (things with stamps, like letters and bills) has fallen almost 50% since 2013. Meanwhile, package volume has nearly doubled from 3.7 billion pieces to 7.2 billion pieces.

Continue reading “The USPS Is Drowning”

I’ve been somewhat absent online for the last several months. First it was the move, and the frantic last week or so of packing, trucking, and cleaning. Then it was viciously thinning out my stuff to fit comfortably into a place with less than one third of the space of the old one. Since then I’ve just been trying to regain my equilibrium.

I’m still working on that last part. It’s always fun hunting for some tool or spare part you know you have, but which you now can’t find. Usually because it wound up buried at the bottom of some tote behind five other totes of tools and gear in the storage space under the stairs.

But I digress. Things have been less than great in a lot of ways. Moving back into a dry cabin (in Alaska, ‘dry’ means no running water) after having the unbelievable luxury (sarcasm intended) of an indoor toilet, shower, and on-site laundry really drove home the point that poverty is inescapable.

Continue reading “Post Move Update: Dry Cabins, Futility, and General Darkness”

If you publish content to Patreon or are considering setting up an account with them, you may be wondering what kind of content is prohibited and if there are any hidden trigger words that can get you in trouble on the site.

I urge everyone to start by reading Patreon’s Terms of Use, Community Guidelines, and Benefit Guidelines. Then I’ll shed a some light on what’s not covered in Patreon’s public documentation.

What sparked this post? Well, when I went to upload Scrapyard Spiders, I received this message via a yellow notification box at the bottom of my draft.

“It looks like you might be promoting a raffle, which is outside of our Benefit Guidelines. Check out our blog post for more information, and email us if you have any questions.”

Wait… what?

Continue reading “Patreon Flagged My Post as a Game of Chance”

On Tuesday, March 16th, the news broke that Facebook plans to launch a platform for writers to publish content and earn income through monetization tools such as subscriptions. Here’s how Engadget summed up Facebook’s initial offering:

“It’s reportedly a free-to-use system that will tie in with Pages, letting you publish live videos, Stories and other material that goes beyond articles and newsletters. You can create Groups and check stats on your work, too. And yes, there will eventually be ways to earn money from your writing, such as subscriptions and ‘possibly other forms’ of income. Facebook is paying the test group to help get the tools started, according to the tipsters.”

J. Fingas/Engadget

Apparently the offering is meant to be an addition to Facebook’s Journalism Project. As such, it appears to be aimed at journalists and writers of short fiction/non-fiction rather than book publishers. There’s also a good possibility that this project is an attempt to draw users away from rivals like Substack, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

As an author, blogger, and longtime Facebook user, I have some thoughts about the potential of Facebook Publishing.

Continue reading “Facebook: Publishing Platform?”

I often joked that the Other Job was eating my life, and that’s why my presence as an author was slowly fading. I did an undeniably poor job of keeping up with friends, staying active in writing groups, and staying on top of schedules for my blog and Patreon– not to mention actually writing books.

But in a very real sense, the Other Job consumed my life. I lost touch with most of my local friends outside of work (although I made new friends at work.) After I got out and started to try to reconnect, I learned that several of the people I knew had died. Others are gone, moved to parts unknown.

Worse yet, for me, the other job consumed my ability to write and be creative. It happened so gradually that I didn’t even feel it happening, and what I did notice was easy to attribute to stress and lack of sleep. As in, “I’m just tired, I’m sure this’ll be easier after I get some sleep.” Or “I’m just stressed out– I’m sure I’ll be back to normal when I’m not.”

So it came as a shock that, once I left the other job, things didn’t go back to normal. I wasn’t the same person, and I still couldn’t plot complicated stories or focus well enough to write. And that was absolutely horrifying.

Continue reading “The Aftermath of the Other Job”

I left the Other Job nearly three months ago. At the time I had immediate plans to write a blog post as a sort of wrap up to the saga of corruption, disaster, and misery that I’ve been chronicling for the last couple of years. I thought it’d be cathartic. I thought I’d know exactly what I wanted to say.

I didn’t wind up writing that post because I felt like it was all stuff I’d said before, and at the time the last thing I wanted was to extensively revisit that hellscape of disappointment and failure.

In the ensuing months it began to become apparent that going back to what I was doing before the Other Job would be significantly more difficult than just walking away. I had reoccurring nightmares. I had trouble sleeping. I seem to have lost a lot of my creativity, and almost all of my ability to plot stories. Which is, to say the least, absolutely horrifying.

Continue reading “The End of the Other Job: Escape & Loss”

Recently the Wall Street Journal (not exactly a bastion of the left-leaning press) broke the news that when Facebook tweaked its newsfeed algorithm in 2017 to reduce the visibility of political news, the company’s engineers intentionally designed the system to disproportionately impact left-leaning news outlets.

While assuring Mother Jones editorial director for growth and strategy Ben Dreyfuss that the algorithmic changes were not designed “in a way that favored or disfavored any single publication or class of publisher,” Facebook deliberately and knowingly wrote its algorithms to favor right-leaning pages while suppressing left-leaning ones– and this was done with Mark Zuckerberg’s explicit approval.

Indeed, the Zuckerberg who once claimed he would prefer to leave the politics to others has been doing anything but. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Zuckerberg is now an active political operator. He has dined with President Trump, talks regularly with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, and has pressed lawmakers and officials to scrutinize rivals including TikTok and Apple Inc., people involved in the discussions say.”

Hello. My name is Leland, and I’m a poor quitter.

I’ve worked a string of abusive jobs, and stuck with them far longer than anyone should. My first full time job gave me exactly 4 days off per year; I worked there for eight years. The second is essentially a meat grinder that operates on the assumption that employees will be used up until they fail and then replaced. I worked there for seven years. A job that wants me to fold 18 hours of work into 8 hours of paid time in blatantly unsafe conditions is nothing new to me.

I once held hope for change at this workplace. When I was hired, the recruiter told me the company wanted my expertise because they were trying to move in a safer, more regulatory-compliant direction. I’ve since determined that was a lie. This company is mired in the past, built on an ethos of doing everything in the most half-assed way possible. And almost no one at the executive level wants that to change.

We make a lot of sacrifices in the service of becoming successful. We sacrifice leisure time to take on additional duties at work or spend more time writing. We sacrifice time with our friends and loved ones. We sacrifice our hobbies and the things we do for fun. We sacrifice our health, both mental and physical.

But it’s worth it, right? If we just work hard enough, one of these days it’s all going to pay off. We’ll be able to pay off our student debt, or afford to buy a house, or be able to send our kids to college, or land a book deal that we can support ourselves with, or develop a big enough following that we can live off the proceeds…

We spend our lives following this mirage of success. One day it’ll pay off. One day we’ll get where we’re going, and we’ll finally be able to relax, catch up with friends, spend time with our loved ones, and do the things we enjoy. People chase this mirage until the day they die– which is likely to happen sooner rather than later if you never give yourself a chance to relax.

We need to talk about this.

Many of you are probably wondering what happened to me– did I get arrested? Die? Give up? And no, it’s none of the above.

Remember when I called the Other Job a cancerous mass that’s slowly consuming my life? Well, the Other Job is why I’ve been more or less absent the entire month of June.