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    Journal - First Quarter 2002  

Minds, like parachutes, only function when they are open.       

January thru March 2002:

All entries are organized in reverse-chronological order so the newest entry is always at the
top. (If you're reading the journal for the first time, you might wish to start where I began
(the 3rd Quarter of 1999) and go to the bottom to begin reading.

3rd Quarter 1999 4th Quarter 1999 1st Quarter 2000 2nd Quarter 2000 3rd Quarter 2000
4th Quarter 2000 1st Quarter 2001 2nd Quarter 2001 3rd Quarter 2001 4th Quarter 2001
1st Quarter 2002 2nd Quarter 2002 3rd Quarter 2002 4th Quarter 2002 1st Quarter 2003
2nd Quarter 2003 3rd Quarter 2003 4th Quarter 2003 1st Quarter 2004  

March 2002:

March 21, 2002:
I want to thank my visitors for all the uplifting emails I've received over the last few weeks (since my last journal entry, where I was feeling pretty blue.) And a huge thank you to the thoughtful, kind, and generous seven people who made donations to the site. It helps more than you know, and some of the cards and letters we got (some to Richard too) nearly made me cry, so all I want to say is thank you... from the bottom of my heart.

And for those of you who told me we need to be less shy about taking donations, we're trying. It's so against my nature, but I've made some additional links to help people know how/where to donate. (Yeah, I know.. I'll take some heat for it too.)

February 2002:

February 23, 2002:
I have been deluged with people wanting to know why I have "stopped" writing in the journal... I have not stopped, but lately there's been even more reasons it's called a "semi-regular journal." I hope everyone can forgive me for being away from it for so long. As I read back over my own journal, I see a pattern forming. (Ever notice how hard it is to spot such things while you're "in" them?) Anyway, I saw that more and more I'd be mentioning how little time I had or how over-booked my schedule was. Wow... I see that's been quite an understatement. I know right now I am doing myself some damage with so much on my plate, but there doesn't seem to be much I can actually cut back on. Now, I'm going to explain some of this, but it's probably going to come off as me "complaining" or "feeling sorry for myself" and while I don't mean to, I can't really explain it all any other way. So if you're really not in the mood for anything less than upbeat, you might want to stop reading here and go and enjoy the rest of the site.

First off, a typical weekday starts with me getting up several hours earlier than I would usually have to, so that I can tend to Low Carb Luxury email (and I have never found a way to answer all of it. I shoot for at least half now and answer the ones most pressing, most in need, or the ones where the answers are already right in front of me [usually because others have just asked the same thing.] )

A couple of hours later, I hop in the shower and grab some breakfast... or at least I try. Often I am so late that breakfast is getting skipped entirely and I know that's not a good thing. (Hey, at least I'm not skipping the showers!) I get ready for my "real life" job as a designer. I design and develop websites, do photography and post production photo work, and write copy. I often work through lunch, eating at my desk. If I'm lucky, I'll be in a "prepared phase", where I will have pre-made low carb lunches ready to go (these are usually made at night or on weekends. I actually did an article about making up these "TV Dinners" in a newsletter article once... you can read it here.)  During these lunches, I am sometimes working on "real" work, or I am sometimes working on research for an article for LCL. The past two weeks I have been reading everything I can get my hands on (and doing illustrative graphics) for this past week's article, "Cancer and Sugar's Role in it...".

When I finish work for the day, often my day is just beginning. I have recipes to make and test for the newsletter and the site. I have photos to take and process. I have more articles to write. I have LOTS more mail to answer. And I have the next review group to prepare for. Our reviewers are a great group of volunteers from our area who trudge over here several times each month to help us cook with, taste-test, and put through their paces, new products we try. Everyone weighs in with their opinions and we take notes. We also take photos as we go... my trusty digital camera gets its work-out each and every day... .

When everyone goes home, I spend the next few days condensing everyone's notes and comments, plus my own, into a coherent review if the product measured up to what it takes to be in the spotlight. I put the graphics together, the shopping link(s) (if it can be bought online) and then convert it to HTML. Yes, I write every drop of HTML at our site (and all my sites) from scratch. No editors for me. And I am often up until 2 or 3 AM finishing up tasks, or getting a work-project completed. We've also been doing some charity work to support a couple of families here that had great tragedy in their lives this past year and have sponsored a couple of auctions to aid in the effort.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I try and find a little time to be with my husband, watch a bit of TV or a movie, or tend to family tasks. I have to find the time for shopping, cleaning, and all the other things each of us do every day.

Richard has been a God-send. Not only does he help with the site's tasks, writes articles, and is an integral part of our review team, he also has taken on many of my day-to-day tasks. He cleans the bathrooms, does the floors and vacuuming, takes out the trash, does ALL the laundry, makes runs to the store, the dry cleaners, etc. He does all the bills, taxes, and bookkeeping. And somehow, he manages to remain sweet and supportive without complaint. He realizes we do what we do because it matters. If you can't look back at the end of your life and know you made a difference, then why are you here? I like the idea of touching lives and am saddened each time I fail someone.

And finances? Well, let's just say they're getting a bit problematic. We run so close to the wire sometimes that I worry about how we'll make it to the next month. In case anyone wondered, Low Carb Luxury does NOT make a profit. We get some advertising revenue from the newsletter sponsors that keeps the newsletter possible, and a couple of merchants (though not most) allow us some affiliate fees for sales through the site. Low Carb Luxury still runs WAY in the red each month and the difference is paid from our pockets.

In May of 2001, after running the site to our near-bankruptcy, we finally made the decision to accept donations. Someone wrote me a few months ago and said they hoped I was "making a fortune" from the donations to the site. I realized then that there was probably a perception like this in peoples' minds. In the nine months since we started taking them, we've received a couple of donations in the $20 - $25 range, and one person that sends a check on a regular basis. Our total donations have been for less than $300 in the last nine months, so I suppose it's one of those cases where everyone assumes everyone else helps out. Now, don't get me wrong, it's fine... I know the economy has really taken a beating and people just can't afford to help. I always want to be able to give our site to those who need it free of charge. A few people wrote to say they wouldn't mind if we took advertising at the site itself. But the fact that we get stacks of angry mail each month already from people accusing me of being "on the take", I hardly think that would be a good idea.

Since we now have over fourteen THOUSAND subscribers to the newsletter, and average over 4 million hits per month, I know we are reaching a lot of people. But the bandwidth charges and site costs are now in the thousands, so it's quite a balancing act. Add to it the money we spend on grocery items to test recipes and test new products (plus the costs of the products), and you'll begin to see where we are.

Are there days I want to quit? Sure. I get letters from people angry that this or that recipe didn't "turn out" as they thought it should. Or that they didn't like it. Or they tried a product from our reviews and hated it. (Those are the ones that accuse me of taking money to recommend a product, or they demand I pay them for the what the product(s) cost them.) I get "hate mail" from ardent low fat folk who think I am killing people. I get merchants mad at me because I will not promote their products. I get people angry that I am "ignoring them" because I cannot get all my mail answered. (I am up to 300-400 pieces of low carb related mail per day now.) I have friends and family that feel I spend no time with them, or have distanced myself from them. Each time a newsletter goes out, I get people who write with things like "take me off your f*cking mailing list!" (like I put them on it against their will -- you have to sign up to get on it in the first place.) In short, there are days I feel damned unappreciated and I ask myself, why in the hell am I putting myself through this abuse?!

Then there are the other days... the days when I get letters from those letting me hear how we made a difference in their lives. Thanking me for my efforts. Letters from those that depend on what we do here for their day-to-day successes. And those are what keep me going. They're what keeps me convinced I am on the correct path.

Now, if you're still with me after all of this, thanks for putting up with me "bitching" a little. I guess everyone has to vent. Don't worry; I'm not going anywhere. As long as I keep my health and keep my head above water, I'll keep doing this. I just hope that some of you will understand why my journal falls so far behind.