SSL fix, other updates, and a rant

I, right now, am successfully solving the SSL issue that has been making Google Chrome throw errors and warnings on this site for roughly the past month.

I’m also planning to update and overhaul a lot of other things. Just stay calm if you saw that error, it was just a configuration problem. I’m working on it and the shop will be secure again in a matter of hours. [EDIT: Chrome no longer throws the red warning, because I’ve successfully re-implemented and fixed the SSL encryption that will ensure all store data [ie financial stuff, passwords] is kept encrypted and safe.] 

Updates of other types include a delay on Miniature Multiverse again. I keep looking at my shoestring budget and sadly cannot imagine any way I can cover the remaining $350+ in costs there without seriously compromising summer plans. The basic issue is that if I put the cash into my indie game,  it may or may not succeed. Indie game development is hellishly risky and very unlikely to work out, and I’m sort of wondering if I should double down on ‘lower cost’ and somewhat smaller projects for now in order to launch the game more effectively at the start of 2020. That is the safe bet given the likelihood that aiming full steam ahead on ‘Miniature Multiverse’ will ruin some other things if the game fails.

So here’s what the choice looks like for 2019:

-a few little minigames, plus a couple of niche multimedia projects & games that certain notable subsets of my audience have been waiting on seemingly forever, plus a bunch more still art, comics, and several key but small video shoots over the summer, plus overhaul of my video section on HornbostelVideos.com with a bunch of new things. And expanded lines of stock media/ 3D model collection stuff.

OR:

Miniature Multiverse. And the extras relating to that.

That all said, if any of the stuff in category #1 does surprisingly well, there’s no reason #2 won’t also happen in 2019. But it’d then likely be at the end of this year and not somewhere in the middle.

All of this shouldn’t have to be an issue but my effective discretionary budget across all projects is roughly $60-75/month lately and this slows everything down for obvious reasons, especially projects with massive volumes of physical supplies involved like Miniature Multiverse or Vivid Minigolf v2.  So yeah. Things will continue to move forward agonizingly slowly, indefinitely, until something, anything at all, that I make actually sells well. That’s just simple reality. It’s math. My list of 25 projects in varying stages of progress across all media formats will require 2.5 more years in the best case, to wrap them all up and 7-8 years at the current lurching-forward-in-fits-and-starts rate.  I don’t see a great solution arriving any time soon as my current pay rate is collapsing to roughly $1-2/hour (I’m not joking) on the most consistently available tasks. I am scraping by somehow though for now, mainly due to the assistance of family and the disability checks that cover the cost of my medications but not really anything else. I’ve got great, bordering on amazing, stuff on the way as far as stock media on Itch.IO but nobody is rating/reviewing it so it is going nowhere [so far]. The total revenue earned on Itch.IO after launching 3 different stock-media packs is under $50 still. Total. After 180+ hours of labor unpaid, hundreds of dollars spent on the stock creation processes, $45 in ad campaigns announcing this launch, and telling everybody I could, hours spent posting in forums and the like linking back to this stuff from a dozen sites. https://matthornb.itch.io was my best shot at justifying going full steam ahead on Miniature Multiverse and it has only managed to further demonstrate that it’s unlikely to work out as a project launch.

It has been discouraging generally.

If I sound bitter, maybe it has something to do with several hard drives being utterly unrecoverable and almost 1TB out of 15TB est, of unique data lost forever, making a bunch of my in-development projects damaged and in certain cases possibly irreversibly ruined. That will set me back by about a year overall, and even then there’s still a slight chance it could become far worse due to lack of sufficient redundancies even now. And of course, it’s clear nobody except me cares about this or recognizes how good the material that was lost could have been. Which is perhaps for the best that they don’t; I do and it is still painful me emotionally as I sort through the losses and make desperate attempts to reconstruct the projects in some form. I have found some methods that might allow some bits of the lost material to be recoverable but it’s… slow going.

But I am – as someone with multiple mental illnesses – seriously an exhausted wreck by this point, running aggressively on fumes for years but still not quite at the point of giving up… or maybe will just finally admit my work will never be viable, and stop doing art, videos, game stuff. Just… stop trying. I’ll admit that taking a break and trying to relax is tempting, BUT:

I cannot help but suspect this time period, the past few years and the next few, might actually in retrospect be the best years of my life. Which kinda sucks. The world – our entire industrial civilization – is itself built on a bunch of fragile underlying structures and foolhardy assumptions that will start to unravel over the next decade. We have assumed that unlimited growth is possible, but it clearly isn’t. The earth is finite, and it is dying, and as the resource shortages start hitting us we’ll realize that we cannot continue in an economic order that assumes perpetual 2% average annual [real] growth. We’ll see volatility first, natural disasters, shortages, heat waves, persistently high inflation as our governments become entrapped by untenable debt to GDP ratios, widespread civil unrest, demographic problems with aging populations that are larger than the younger ones that have to support them, ultimately some desperate scramble to secure key resources ending in massive global warfare. I wish I could say we can manage the decline and unwinding rationally, but my optimism about this is dissipating now that it’s increasingly evident that nationalist us-vs.-them movements are the dominant public response forming in most countries. (i.e. Trump, Brexit, etc) and such tribalism is going to make things much, much worse because the underlying issues (climate change and environmental degradation) are global issues demanding international solutions. And it scares me to think so many people are deluded enough to believe a ‘rapture’ will save them. It won’t. God won’t save us. He’s probably not real. We have to fix this ourselves, using reason and empathy and long-term thinking, instead of continuing to ‘kick the can down the road’ because guess what? Time’s almost out. We’re at the end of the road. And while we may hope for a miracle, some ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, more than likely the light is a ‘train’ about to run most of us over.

These are the thoughts running through my head at times. I’m 32. I started pursuing creative work around age 13 roughly as that’s when I began working on videos and 3d animation, etc. 2001. Now it is almost 20 years later, and despite a college degree and a ton of effort, I’m still to this day working 10 or 11 hours a day on gigs and creative projects, with no financial viability to show for it and no good career prospects realistically ahead of me. And that’d be okay if I thought there was much time left. But I don’t. And I want to do something, help in some way. And I don’t know how I can, aside from ventilating about societal mass idiocy on this blog post.

I also have to note: My life is not over yet. I may be 32, still a virgin, autistic, depressed, never tried alcohol or drugs of any kind, technically unemployed yet working all the freaking time, working a lot of online gigs, at wages around $1.30-1.50/hr, tilting at creative windmills and pursuing personal projects I may not be able to actually complete if things get any worse, etc, but I am still not quite yet at the ‘giving up’ stage. Nor am I convinced that we should give up as a global society. We’re gonna have to make tough calls starting right now. I think to try desperately to solve things we have no good chance of solving, and pushing ourselves to and beyond the brink of sanity for others on the off chance that somehow it’ll pan out even if the odds are 99-to-one against or worse… is fundamentally one of the most human things I can think of. I am a Triumphant Artist. For me that’s defined as not giving up no matter how burned out you are, just pushing yourself harder and harder to make something work, until your last breath.

But it’s also about a certain sort of delusional idealism. I want to make a difference in this horrifically messed up world and if you or I can’t make an impact and help keep human civilization afloat, while there’s still a chance to do so, then why bother existing at all?

Which is why I’ve recently been giving little amounts here and there fairly often, to educational causes, to medical causes, environmental causes too. If you were to see my tax returns next year… you’ll likely find my total 2019 income to be basically nothing, about $2000 earned doing creative work for others, and virtually all of it poured back into projects of my own, save for maybe 40% given away either as gifts to family/friends/cast members (birthdays, Christmas, stuff like that) or to genuine charitable causes. I know the statistics. I know conservatives donate more per capita than liberals. So all you – liberals or conservatives – please step up your game and give to causes you’re convinced are genuinely worthy and which you can verify via unbiased sources, actually have an efficient and effective impact on the world. I realize I may not ever make more than a dollar or two an hour in earnings. But if I, even as ugly as my prospects are, can give *anyway*, and influence someone, anyone, to give a bit more too, or give to better or more impactful causes, then maybe I can live with myself being in the frustrating situation I’m currently in.

It should be over. I should’ve given up on any sort of career years ago. But because I’m kind of an idiot, I am still not yet giving up.

I won’t give up because I can’t. It’s not who I am. Jason Lindsey once described me as ‘one of the most intrinsically motivated people I’ve ever met’ and maybe my breakthrough is still ahead of me. And by breakthrough, I mean $12-15k per year, being off of dependence and government disability, paying taxes, giving way more to worthy causes and to help people I care about, having creative freedom to pursue my ideas for outstanding projects without having to stall them or compromise them constantly due to lack of funding, and basically that is my dream, to do this on my own terms, with my own business. And if it doesn’t happen, well, I guess that’s okay. I’ll try to be satisfied with less. Because adjusting your expectations downward is usually the only road to peace internally. And ‘success’ is a moving target nobody ever hits anyway. Everyone wants more, until suddenly life hits the endpoint and you’re stuck wishing you had enjoyed life a bit, while it still existed for you.

Nobody hires a mentally ill person. It’s a red flag. And especially, nobody hires a mentally ill person with no recent ‘steady’ conventional employment. That’s a HUGE red flag. So I have essentially come to accept that no matter how extensive and exceptional my skill sets are or how little I agree to in pay, or how much unpaid overtime I’m game to do, I will never be hired anywhere for any longer-term ‘real’ job… I’ve given up on anyone ever hiring me and I am determined to make a real self-supporting living on my own, freelancing and doing artworks and creative stuff for other people online, dirt cheap, and building what I hope will be viable self-created product lines – more and more of them as time passes – digital products or on DVD, sold on Etsy or eBay or Itch.IO or Steam or right here.

I am not giving up yet. I probably never will until I am forced to face the collapse of industrial civilization due to our short-sighted political/macroeconomic/environmental/militaristic thinking, then death and then no longer existing.

And if that is mentally, psychologically and/or emotionally unhealthy for an unemployed nobody like me to feel the stress, the crushing weight and responsibility of needing to help save the world, and it makes me a deluded moron, so be it. Rather work hard trying to improve things for everyone, than shirk all responsibility and live unaware of, or simply not caring about, what’s most likely coming.

But… I do think that there are massive systemic risks ahead in the next 25 years. I am worried for what the world will be like for my 5-year old nephews as they grow up. I want the future to be bright. I believe there’s still a chance that it will be. But that won’t happen if we ignore the warning signs and go about ‘business as usual’ without regard for the future, without regard for the health of the planet’s ecology that our civilization is dependent on, and without regard for the needs of the sick, the poor, the weak and desperate.

So yeah. Do something to make the world better. I may not succeed and indeed am near certain I never will, but if a few of you who actually care about fixing things do succeed and put your success to good and selfless use, then maybe my embarrassing train wreck of a life isn’t for nothing. We have the internet. We are globally connected, right now, by the world wide web. That, if nothing else, is encouraging. Maybe we will start to care more about people in other countries, when we have friendships and personal connections online, with people all over the world. Maybe it’ll be a key platform for younger people to save the planet and work together, help each other. The internet’s often been hateful and full of trolls and deceptive misinformation, and idiocy and criminals. But it doesn’t have to be.

It can and should be a force for collaborative good, for compassion and cooperation. I want that, and if enough of us choose to actively use it that way, to solve problems instead of cause them or apathetically drown them out… we could still turn the world around. It does require deep, painful sacrifices though.

As for any not-mentally-ill people whose only takeaway from this was that I am a deranged lunatic, you’re being superficial. Sorry. But it’s sort of true. Just because a person is emotionally volatile and sees the future as a dark and horrific place, does not mean they are insane, and it doesn’t mean they’re wrong about everything or that there’s not data backing up the thesis that the current era is not ‘normal’ and that we’re facing the impending potential end of civilization as we know it. I can’t believe I have to point this out but there was an earlier draft of this post that was WAY THE FUCK MORE HONEST and WAY MORE UPSET than what actually ultimately got posted. And if you are bothered by some damn F-bomb being dropped here – again – I don’t give a shit at this point. I posted this message after three straight hours of tears, a lot of soul searching about whether I can justify continuing to allow myself to live, when my death might actually make more constructive difference than I will realistically ever be able to make by living, billions of people dying off in the next 15-20 years, the collapse of the current system of govt. in the US within a decade and global collapse following that, a desperate scramble to mitigate human suffering and make an impact in the dwindling time before doing so is no longer logistically possible… and you aren’t listening to that and only see a curse word and think that’s the problem here, then maybe you’re the lunatic. Sorry. I hope you get help. 😉

 

ALSO: I have a few ideas for how to pull of $12,000/year income within 24 months assuming the next, bigger recession doesn’t hit by then, which I cannot assume. There are some big question marks but it may be feasible to get there. We’ll see. Right now I’m again in the ‘researching, and trying things’ stage. $3.50/hr, 10 hrs/day, should get me to my target where dependence on family and country are not issues. The question is how to reach that approximate pay level. I have a bunch of ideas that could maybe do it. None of them are safe bets but they all have a decent chance of working, and right now I am starting off with mTurk and TurkerView, working my ass off sorting through gigs that are, around $2.50-4.50 / hr, seeing what I can do, even though it does mean other (creative) work goes on the backburner or slows down dramatically. I have this loopy idea of working hard and being miserable on these gigs, as a setup for a pivot back to an improved art pipeline after a couple months. And with the art I’ll advertise the content heavily, like to the tune of $150+ in ad campaigns, in pursuit of driving bidding activity up on eBay, and if sale price on each item goes up by a target of 10% that is really a 35% increase in profit. Another 10% beyond that and the earnings hit the $3.50/hr goal. Maybe it’ll work? :/

I also clearly will continue to try to get the ‘Miniature Multiverse’ project completed. So… phase 1, boost art pipelines. I’ll have that done by end of May 2019.

Phase 2, complete Miniature Multiverse. By end of July 2019 ideally.

And phase 3, a bunch of other stuff. There’s a lot of video stuff to wrap up and some other things that could be amazing. Video projects pose a fascinating challenge insofar as they have NO evident path to profitability, as I’m now finally accepting. BUT, I still hope to pay a bit to any actors who participate, using a simple 20% of the profit margins made by my art sales, indie game sales, and stock media sales. There’s a post about this on Patreon, and it wound up on Facebook as well, but essentially everybody who contributed to my projects will now have a stake in their success or lack of it. Within 30 days, a new batch of material goes live on HornbostelVideos.com, along with a removal of all the banner ads, logos, and links out from the site. Basically we’re talking wave after wave of posted videos, 100% free, totally non-profit, which has some upsides, but there’s also a problem with this, which is that it still does not stop litigation.

I am sacrificing a lot. I have sacrificed a lot. I am not doing well fiscally.

I spent a ton of cash on making these video projects over the past 18 years. Thousands of dollars. I also poured thousands of hours into them. I will likely be divvying up a couple hundred dollars or more, to pay past cast members for their involvement. Those same cast members who refused to agree to sign basic talent release documents, which is partly my fault and has kind of precipitated this mess.  I’ve announced this elsewhere but as a reminder, to all cast members, unless you voice concerns about a particular role, scene, or bit of video content, going live online, after the next 30 days, you will probably begin to see that content head online. So there’s a cast member with altered voice, blurred out face, pseudonym in credits, all that is being done on several videos because she requested it. Others likewise requested that certain roles be kept offline. But if you’re not willing to request that a [role] be obfuscated/withheld from the web, in the next 30 days, you will probably find that it’ll get posted. And once posted, it won’t leave. It may be pulled from HornbostelVideos.com, I can do that, but as you all already realize, there’s nothing to stop the web browsing public from downloading the video files, and posting them all over the place on their own blogs and sites and social media feeds – which means if you do not act now, before the videos go live, and contact me, and are later embarrassed by a video posted online, let’s just say I gave you ample warning. Which is verifiable; I posted this warning in multiple places online including social media, emails to my contacts lists, etc. If you’ve missed it, it’s your fault for not keeping track of what is going on.

 

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