Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Shorts

My current hypomania has hit critical mass. I’m getting in great, intense, workouts, but I can’t sleep unmedicated. I’m hoping things are on the downward slide just a bit. I just hope it doesn’t go too far or too fast.

I am continuing to work on the LivingBipolar page. I love working on stuff like that, if feeds so many needs in me. Creativity, technical thinking, research, and so forth. I’ve expanded it to include news feeds and resources. I’ll be adding a link library next. Is there anything else that would make it more useful?

Kyle will be moving back in with us. I’ve just written a column about this at BipolarConnect, but it will take a week or so for them to print it. You can subscribe to my posts if you take a moment and create an account. It will be great to have him home, but I’m nervous about it. We’ve butted heads terribly in the past.

All my life I just assumed I’d never hit 65 years, thinking with my lifestyle I’d heart attack early. Now I have every intention of being active into my eighties. A book that I’d almost call life-changing is called "Younger Next Year" by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge. There is a men’s and women’s version of the book. If you need motivation to get your exercise and fitness regime going, this is the book. My workouts are working, I’ve lost 20 pounds, gained size and strength, and ran 4 miles Wednesday morning. Those of us in the bipolar disorder community have to be SO careful. Our meds, while necessary for our ability to live semi-normal lives, can also exact a price. This helps counteract that price.

Did anyone watch "The Office" last night? Could there be a funnier show? A disgruntled employee sabotaged an entire shipment of paper by putting on a watermark of 2 cartoon characters in an obscene act. This paper shipped to businesses, schools, and other organizations. One of the funniest episodes ever.

I hope everyone had a great week, and will have an even better weekend!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Feeds - Detail

I’ve been asked a few questions on the feed reader I built. If you’re not into technical stuff, you don’t need to read this post. Except for the bolded text below, that’s some good information. But I live for projects like this – they keep me sane. This was a short one, just a few days. But I really need to focus and immerse myself into things like this, it’s important to my mental health.

First, a quick, high-level overview. I knew very little about feeds prior to starting this project, and I still know little about the technical side of them. All I can say is it provides a quick and simple data stream you can pull into a “reader” and display. This data may be news, basic web pages, or in this case, blogs. You may have noticed links on blogs, they may say "RSS" or "Feeds" or ""Atom". These are all methods of providing feeds for our blogs or web pages. People use these feeds in different ways, the way I used them is described above.

There are a lot of feed readers, Google Reader is a popular one. I use Google to display the news headlines on the side bar of this blog. But there are so many ways to use feeds and readers you need to look around for one that does what you want, or can be modified to do what you want. In my case, the tricky part was displaying multiple feeds in a single interface. It took me a lot of research to figure out how to do this. Somebody else may have been able to do it in minutes, but it was a learning adventure for me.

Jumping to the solution, I took all the individual feeds and combined them into an OPML file. This is a file that combines multiple feeds. I found a site that will do that for you:
Once you have the OPML file built from your feeds, then go to Grazr and use that OPML file to build a reader widget:
You can configure your reader in a number of different formats or colors, and Grazr will do that for you. Once it’s configured it gives you the code to paste into your blog or webpage. That’s the basics, and it does work. Just maintain a list of feed URLs and use the method above.

But now the fun part, tweaking it to make it really usable and easily updated. If it takes too much time or it’s too much work to update, it will never be used. A few things about that process.

First, if you’re still maintaining links yourself, stop that! There are several good, free services that make it so much easier to maintain a list of blog links. And they add so much versatility to future projects just like this one. I use blogrolling, but there are several out there. Build your blogroll, they guide you right through the process. Then you can generate the code for your blog. Don’t stop reading when I say code! Go to Blogger, Layout, and add a page element. Select HTML/Java Script and paste in your code. Drag the page element where you want it, and you’re done managing links in Blogger forever. For the ultimate in ease, add a toolbar button to your browser that you merely click to add a link to your blog. Blogrolling will show you how to do that also. OK, those not desiring additional tech information can stop reading now. But the point of this sidebar, If you have a place you can upload and store an OPML file online, and if you create a blogroll of feeds, you’ve cut way back on your maintenance time. Once you have a blogroll of feeds (not basic urls), you can export that blogroll to an OPML file. Blogrolling calls it "backing up", but it’s the same thing. With Blogrolling I have to manually edit that OPML file a bit. On each line you change:
and :
In your html or text editor you just do a replace with the information above, and it’s done in a second, even if you have hundreds of feeds. Then you have a working OPML file.

Note to Suni: If you add a title to the feed when adding it to blogrolling, the title pulls into the feed. Otherwise you can manually edit the OPML file to add the blog title in the “text” portion of the feed line. But I don’t know how to tell you to do that unless you are storing your own OPML file. I don’t think the feedshow link above does that for you.

Then, as described above, use the grazr widget builder to build your widget using the url of the OPML file you’ve built. If you want to change anything, you merely change the OPML file you have stored, and the changes immediately pull into your feed reader.

Clear as mud, huh?

Oh, and the design is a template I downloaded and slightly customized. I don’t have the patience to set up the CSS to do design from ground up. I’m still adding to and tweaking the basic site.

Next step: Adding different feed readers for resources, and maybe other categories as well. Also, the email for updated blogs as described in the previous post.

Any suggestions anyone may have? I’d like to hear other ideas and suggestions.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Check Out This Blog-Reader

I've been playing around with feeds, and came up with this. Check it out:

Feed Reader

Think about it - how much all our traffic could increase if people could go to one location to see an entire blogroll of blogs? If they see something they like they click through to the blog. This isn't perfect, I'd like to display blog titles instead of just URLs, and I can't figure out why it displays some URLs and not others, some pictures, and so forth.

Next - a daily email showing all updated blogs that people can opt-in to receive. This opens things up to people who may be intimidated by navigating their way to blogs.



I haven't slept normally for weeks now. I get about 4 hours a night - the length of time my Ambien seems to work. Unassisted, I'd be up for days. This crash may be a tough one...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Life Insurance

Foolishly, years ago I cashed in all of my life insurance when I purchased a business. I needed money badly, and I could always purchase later, right? Well, later is now. Since then, however, I've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and things have changed.

I'm looking for any information I can get. I spent an hour Googling the topic, and find very little information. I saw one site that said it's possible to get coverage if you're stable and med compliant. But how do they verify that? Do you roll the dice and see if I'm approved? If I apply with one company and am denied, that is a factor with other companies. It's a question on applications, if you've been denied.

Does anyone have experience with this? Or any ideas where to look for more information?

The Bipolar Advantage

I just received a copy of Tom Wootton's book "The Bipolar Advantage". Before I could even open it my wife snatched if from me and began to read it. To make things worse, she started reading me quotes. She finished it, and I have finally claimed it. This is a great book, and I recommend it to all.

Thanks to the author, and to Jane, for bringing this to the bipolar community.

Another Song

I'm loving this embedded music stuff, so I'm going to indulge myself again.

After 2 slower, subtle, introspective songs, it's time for in-your-face.

"Cracker" is one of my favorite bands, and "Kerosene Hat" is probably my favorite Cracker album. You'd all recognize songs off the album, "Low", "Get Off This", and "Euro-Trash Girl" are well known. This song is anything but subtle, and it's what I need today to kickstart myself back into the mainstream.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Catching Up

I'm home sick today with stomach flu. It's been over 10 years since I've had this stuff, and I hope it's at LEAST another 10.

Somebody asked me about posting songs in blogger, like I did a few posts ago. It's pretty simple, but takes another membership. is a music blog that allows you to upload songs or videos. It's a free account, and an interesting community. Very easy to signup and navigate. You upload your mp3, and it embeds a player in your post. You then click "Share" in your post, and it gives you the code you can paste into Blogger. Pretty simple.

Today I'll share another one of my favorites. Another slower, insightful song by one of my favorite singer-songwriters named Paul Thorn. If you're a baby-boomer this song may just strike a chord with you like it did with me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

ariadneK, Ph.D. from Weird Cake has nominated me for a Thinking Blogger Award. Under the terms of this award I need to list 5 blogs that make me think.

I'm flattered, but to list only 5 blogs means I'll leave out 40 plus - all the rest of the links in my blogroll. I truly don't want any of my friends left out. So let's see what I can figure out...

First is a new (to me) blogger: Soulful Sepulcher. Check out Stephany's blog and tell her I sent you.

Next has to be Anonymous Mom at Tenuous At Best. She is struggling through so much of what my wife and I did with Kyle. It brings back memories, some positive, some negative.

Third would be a big-name blogger Liz Spikol at The Trouble With Spikol. A thought provoking blog.

Fourth would be psychiatric professional, Charlie, at Symptom Space. Some great information to be found there.

Final would be Anxiety, Addiction and Depression Treatments. Another site with excellent, professional, information.

For those nominated, if you want to participate, nominate 5 bloggers, link to the originator's post, and proudly display the Thinking Blogger certificate.

Monday, April 16, 2007


I've posted many times about, a community built around bipolar disorder. I've been blogging there for about a year, my shareposts can be found at GJ Gregory's Shareposts. I go by GJ there, as there was already a John posting there, the well known bipolar activist John McManamy.

This is very cool way to interact with others, much like we do in the blog world. But unlike the blog world, no technical knowledge is needed. The community is very easy to explore, and very accessible. I encourage everyone to hop on over there, register, create a profile, and participate. If nothing else, leave a comment and let them know you're reading my posts.

For those afflicted with bipolar disorder, or those touched by it in any way, an active community awaits.

Let’s Run This Up The Flagpole

Would an annual "convention" of bipolar disorder bloggers be feasible or desirable? A way we could get together socially, therapeutically, and professionally? Maggs (I think), used to host a get-together a couple of years ago, and it sounds like they had fun.

Actually, "convention" implies a very structured event, and I don’t envision that, at least at this point. "Get-together" implies a very loose event, and I don’t envision that either. I’d like a way to bring people together, for a day or two at the most, with enough structure to keep people from staring at each other all day, but enough free time so we can get to know each other. I would envision round-tables on important topics, workshops, support groups, and perhaps even speakers. All put together by us, using our talents and resources.

This could be an aggressive, structured undertaking, or it could be a handwritten agenda in a spiral notebook. It all depends on how many of us are interested. If there’s 6 people interested, we get together in a motel coffee shop at a central location we can agree on. If there’s a hundred interested, we look for a hotel with a meeting room. This wouldn’t be limited to bipolar bloggers, I know we have hundreds of people out there that read our blogs and never comment. We have caregivers, health professionals, social workers. Anyone would be encouraged to come. If we get enough people we’ll attract corporate attention and sponsorship assistance.

Now I know what you’re all thinking, and yes, I am hypomanic. But this sounds like something that would not only be fun, but helpful as well.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Embedded Music

I found a way to embed mp3 files. So instead of just posting lyrics I can post complete music files.

Not that this has anything to do with bipolar, but I heard this the other night and just had to buy it. It's an obscure song, only appearing on an album of otherwise unreleased songs called "Rarities". Bright Eyes is from my hometown, and when they come back you can find them playing very small venues in town. That's kind of cool, to have a world-class band playing in a small club or bar.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

An Open Letter to Employers, Friends, Acquaintances, and Relatives

This is an open note to anyone reading this who may know me personally. While this is not a blog about bipolar disorder, it is a frequent theme. With respect to that theme, here are some things that need to be said.

In me you have a stellar employee/friend/relative, possessing the traits of many with bipolar disorder, such as intelligence, high energy level, motivation, drive, and creativity. What made me attractive as an employee or friend is, to a large extent, due to my particular manifestation of this disorder. I wish to stress that bipolar disorder IN NO WAY impacts my performance or ability to perform any of the responsibilities of my current, or any future position. In fact I’d argue that the traits I possess put me head and shoulders above the rest of the pack.

Bipolar disorder affects everyone differently, so another's symptoms should not be applied to me, and vice versa. My manifestation could be radically different from another's. Should you have any cause for concern about myself and bipolar disorder, I ask that you discuss it with me. If you have any questions or comments, or want to ask me questions or tell me stories about others you know with bipolar disorder, don’t hesitate to talk to me. I welcome an opportunity to discuss this honestly and openly with anyone who takes the time to ask. But do me the courtesy of approaching me directly. I’m not keeping any secrets, but the amount of disinformation about bipolar disorder makes me want to ensure that if any story is given, the ENTIRE story is given.

As to the personal journal aspect of this, it is as therapeutic to me as a personal journal is to anyone who keeps one. This is NOT a bipolar thing, this is a human thing. Any of the personal thoughts expressed have likely been experienced by most people, and it helps to put them "on paper". Knowing what I’ve experienced in the past helps me to plan for, and know what to expect in the future. In the words of George Harrison, "If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there."

Finally, I don’t want anyone to wonder if this page is directed at them. The answer is absolutely not, I am not asking anyone to stop reading. It was just time to make this announcement.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Google's Free Broadband Internet

Today, April 1, Google announced their new, FREE, broadband internet access.

Go here - for more information.