changes to the blog

I’m approaching my 65th birthday, and the possibility of either full-on retirement or else a four-day work week (32 hours a week instead of 40) in 2019. If I retire at 65, even though I had to register for Medicare Part A, I won’t get 100% of my Social Security unless I work until I’m 66. At age 65 I get between 93% and 94%. And considering I’ve been paying into the system since I was 16, I think I want it all. 2019 gives me an opportunity to try and ease away instead of going into cold turkey retirement.

As I come up to 65th I’ve been cutting back expenses. One of those expenses has been the WordPress subscription I have for the blog. When I started the Arcane Science Lab, it was free. And that was OK, until I realized that free wasn’t really free. I might not be paying any money, but the blog was being monetized by Automattic, the “management” of, with advertising scattered across my blog. Personally I hate ads, so I decided to sign up for the personal subscription. At $4/month, or $48/year, I felt it was easily affordable. And it was for a while until I grew tired of the quality of the design templates at that level. I wasn’t happy with the way my blog looked after applying and then tweaking the selection. I wanted something that was very minimal. So I went up to the next grade, Premium, which doubled my yearly cost to $96/year. That too was OK for a while, until I finally found a theme being used by another web site that was only available at the Business tier, which was reduced to $200 around June of this year. So I signed up for that and paid the remaining difference I still owed on Premium. I got my theme, tweaked it to my liking, and all was good.

Then I got to thinking about living on a fixed income, and started looking at my yearly charges for various services. The prospect of going on a fixed income that only shows up the first of the month helps you to really focus on what’s actually needed and what’s not. A WordPress $300 business plan is not needed, even if you run a business, unless it’s a fairly major small business, at which point you’d actually hire someone to manage it all for you and not subscribe just to a blog hosting plan. In any event I closed it down on Thanksgiving day. I’ll have it until June of next year, at which point I’ll make the decision whether to go back to a personal plan in order to keep the ads off. As far as the look of the site, I’ll live with what they have to offer.

Which leads me to looking at other expenses that need to be trimmed, yearly and monthly. My biggest monthly expense right now is my iPhone 8 Plus. I traded up from a 7 Plus back in March. I’m on Apple’s trade-up plan, which I’m going to allow to finish itself and not renew. My wife, who still has her 7 Plus and sees no reason to trade up, has finished paying on her plan. That just leaves mine, I’ll probably leave mine alone until it’s done. After all, in spite of what you read, it’s an interest free two year loan on the phone. After that, if I need a new phone for whatever reason, such as Apple’s refusal to update iOS because it’s become “legacy”, then I might think about going down-market for a mid-level smart phone. Over the last 12 months I’ve worked with $100-$200 smart phones that rival what you would have considered upper-tier smart phones from two or three years ago.

The list for these kinds of expenses (“professional” expenses) seem to go on and on. Major trimming has commenced.

Yes, big changes are coming to my life. Very big changes. Better adjust as much as possible before I have no real choice, and he process becomes very painful.

having another go publishing via ulysses

This is yet another attempt to write for my blog using an alternative to the web interface which I prefer above just about anything else. In this case it’s the Ulysses writing application on an iPhone.

I’ve been want to do this a lot more than I have up to this point. The problem is getting all of this to work together as frictionlessly as possible. Writing into Ulysses isn’t the problem, it’s publishing to WordPress when you want to. So now it’s been a while since the last time I tried this, and I’ve stepped up my WordPress subscription to Business. I’ve selected a better web template which I quite like, and which was only available at this subscription level. So there’s a bit of hope going on here.

If this really works then I can use Ulysses to act as my notebook, jotting down ideas, fleshing them out further as time permits and more ideas bubble up. The frustrating thing for me is to be somewhere and have an interesting thought strike, and not copy it down somewhere. Then another event occurs and I loose all track of it. And I know I have because I’ll remember it later, but only in fragments, and that’s frustrating.

I do like just being able to run ideas off into the app with my Microsoft Folding Keyboard. It’s a Bluetooth device that is extremely simple and quick to pair with the iPhone. Even though the keyboard appears the same size as a notebook keyboard, the keys have been moved out of the way of the center fold and the spaces between keys removed. It takes a bit of time and practice to get used to. Regardless, I can still type far faster with the foldable Microsoft than using the on-screen keyboard.

So I’ll publish this and we’ll see how it all works out.