About this Website

I resisted getting a vanity URL for the longest time. I was convinced that there wasn’t enough to say about myself to warrant a whole website. To be honest, I had already exhausted the whole “everything about me” thing back when our homepages served as profiles, and the World Wide Web was the only platform available to us. My very first website was called “Jon’s World,” and included lists of my friends, interests, favorite TV shows, stuff like that. It was hosted, for free, on CMU’s web servers while I was a student. I also ended up printing off copies of this website and using it as samples when I applied for my first job after graduating from college, which was working as a web developer for a small business called HomeTown Online.

The world also moved away from personal homepages. In the 2000’s, we had things like Myspace, Tumblr, Twitter and, of course, Facebook.

I had a chance to choose a jonmorgan.com or jonmorgan.net when I opened an account with a web hosting service and chose a couple of domains. I didn’t want the domain name to have my name in it, though, because I wanted a web address with purpose. So, I chose midmichiganjournal.com, for my news site, and gazerbeam.com as the free domain that came with the hosting. People are often confused when I point them to gazerbeam.com mostly because it doesn’t really have any meaning. Is it a news site? Store? Social Media network? I guess at the most it could have something to do with astronomy, and I guess I don’t look like someone who would be into that. I chose a domain that seemed generic because I wanted something I could experiment with. Perhaps one day I wanted to start my own social Media network? Gazerbeam.com. Sell mugs? Gazerbeam.com. The name is inspired by a Super in the “Incredibles” movies. I thought the choice was a slamdunk, but very few people make that connection or understand it when I explain it to them.

But, it turned out that the generic domain name with hardly any meaning would turn out to be an important asset in my life. Back in March of 2019, we were scrambling to keep up with doctors’ prognosis for our son, Josh. It was the Sunday after Josh’s cancer diagnosis, and I was on the phone with my wife. She had met with a social worker who suggested that we set up some kind of website or group where we could communicate with our circle of friends on our son’s condition. I heard this, and of course I was like, “Sure! I can do that!” I created a new subdomain, and spun up a new wordpress site, and Josh’s website was born.

If I were to do it over again, I might have purchased a whole domain name for him. At the time, I felt like I was filling a temporary need and couldn’t have known how valuable the website would be after he passed away 2 years later. Then again, I was not one for vanity URLs.

I originally purchased jonmorgan.net after I learned that I was being laid off from the organization I had served for ten years. This was quite a blow, because amongst all of the turmoil of trips to Grand Rapids, doctor visits, and discussions about cancer treatments, my job had been a rock. I had done everything I could to continue to do my work, remotely from Grand Rapids, while I was supporting Josh. I didn’t just need the job for the money and insurance, but for my sanity as well.

Maybe after I started a website for Josh, I was starting to warm up to the idea of starting a website dedicated to my interests. Or, maybe I already regretted not getting that URL for Josh, so getting one for myself didn’t seem so crazy. But, my plan was to launch a website where I could post a copy of my resume and samples of my written work. Even the website would serve as an example of my abilities.

It served its purpose until I got a job, and then I had another problem: What should I do with the site? It kind of lingered because we were still busy with Josh. Now I work somewhere a bit more permanent, and it took a while for me to decide what I would do with jonmorgan.net.

Ultimately, it would have a lot to do with what we did with Josh’s website. When I launched it initially, I saw it as a communication tool and a sort of online journal of everything that Josh went through while he was battling cancer. But, in my mind the most important reader of the website was Josh, so when I wrote I tried to cover things that he would want to know. As my wife and I continued to post on the site, it told Josh’s story. After he passed away, I thought about ways in which we could still post to his site, but then I realized that we really couldn’t, because his story ended when he passed away. But, I have always wanted a way to tell my story, and the best place for me to tell it is on my own site, considering that it is still out there.

So, welcome to a website which started as an online portfolio but which I am hoping to expand into something more.

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