Posts Tagged blogging

Changing Venues

I have decided to go back to Blogger for now for a variety of reasons, most of which you can read here at www.itaintthemustard.blogspot.com.   I hope this doesn’t confuse the issue too much but for the time being it is what it is.  Please come visit or at least comment if you will about the change.

Whew!  If you read the above then you’ll have to wonder what is going on now.  The truth, I love, itaintthemustard but I do truly hate the way Blogger is set up.   Too cranky, too unreliable, too lacking in the smooth and articulate ways of wordpress.  So I think I’ll just have to make do here until I can afford an alternative.

So yes I am back.  Ignore the first paragraph, if you will.

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I caught a cold last week

Or rather I should say the cold caught me.  And I have to say that it is very seldom in my life when I can’t write – something, but this has been one of those times.  Last Wednesday about 4 AM is when it started.  I woke to go pee and felt it in the top of my mouth.  A dryness, a tightness, a difficulty to swallow.  Shit! I thought.  I should have gargled right then.  Warm water, salt stirred in, head tilted back, you know the sound, gggghhhh, and spit.  But I didn’t.  Went back to bed.  Thought, I’ll be fine.

But three hours later, no way Jose.  My head had joined forces with my tightening throat and now was stuffed with snot.  I got up to go to the kitchen to start my day.  Coffee, paper, computer.  What was I thinking, I couldn’t really tell.  That morning’s post, became an afternoon’s one, and was a fair indicator of my state of mind.  If you could read my mind that is.  About three paragraphs, ending with a self-satisfied smirk of a summary.  I couldn’t sit there without breathing any longer.

I skipped the next day.  Drugged up on NyQuil, then Dayquil, and chicken soup, I slept sitting up so I could at least breathe.  But write, no I could barely think.  Finally about 2 AM, I gave it another try.  I really enjoy the experience of making something last.  I have to admit that the things in my life count for a lot.  They act as talismans.  A shirt from ten years ago that I can pull out and wear.  My homemade dance workout shoes, two pair, which I have alternated onto the dance floor for about 10 years too.  But when I tried to write that post about frugality, it was all I could do to say two things.  Rereading only shows me that I couldn’t wait to get done.  And I was really trying.  I remember going back and forth between youtube and this blog trying to imbed a Todd Rungren video that wouldn’t take and finally giving up in sick frustration.

Then came Friday.  Yes, the Lakers were into the finals, and T and I were packing for the trip to LA but I was still one sick puppy.  Dayquil all day, I even tried alcohol, two margaritas with dinner.  Here’s how sharp my thinking was.  It’s a cold I have.  So stay warm.  Not me.  We go to the book reading after dinner and sit for two hours while the cool city breezes blew in the door and swirled around my bare legs (I was wearing shorts) and sandalled feet. 

Sick Saturday, that what I’ll have to call it.  I couldn’t drive.  Thank the gods for T.  I couldn’t think or write or even read, and you know I really have to be sick for that to happen.

So now it is a tentative Sunday.  I have only sneezed once and I have managed to write this too.  I’m going to leave you with this reference point, one I gathered from the blogger at http://www.skepticsandpolitics.blogspot.com/.  I hope to write more about it tomorrow when this cold will be going going gone.  

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Blogging, the job

I have always blogged I just didn’t know that’s what it was called.  I’ve Twittered, too.  Email, I’ve hand delivered quite a few.  For years I kept the evidence in student folders filled with  the back and forth of discovery and such.  They would write in reply to some requested assignment, I would write in reply to what I thought their work ended up being about.  No grade was as valuable as the constant dialogue that turned itself into one long thought drawn out.

But now I am in a different venue.  The only one with an assignment is me.  Write I tell myself.  Everyday.  Read, digest the news, find out what others are saying, and write to them, (it’s called leaving a comment).  Well, I have done my part. I do write just about every day.  I even have a schedule and a routine.  I get up around 5:30, take a pee, rinse my face, squint into my somewhat sleep-deprived eyes, put filtered water into the pot to boil, coffee grounds into the filter on top of my favorite 40 oz cup, and read something while I wait.  Then coffee in hand, I make my way back to my friendly little office to . . .

I get the Problogger newsletter, you know.  I don’t know if it’s just me or what but every time I find myself intensely interested in a topic, serendipitously so are others.  And two days ago I signed up for Yaro Starack’s Blog Tips Newsletter.  I even got my first edition yesterday.  His advice, “Don’t pick the wrong blog topic” got me to thinking alright.  What the hell am I doing wrong?  I write about the world we live in from my viewpoint and by trying to explain to myself what the information means.  I write about what interests me and have fun making the words state clearly what I am seeing.  But Yaro says quite pointedly that three months is the window I want to check for success.  Well, it’s been 9 months.  5 readers, 25 or so newsletters subscribers and that’s it.  One meaningful dialog.  But no consistent visitors to drive the discussions.  Ha, what discussions.  They are all with myself.  Yet, after rereading my about page, I find that I am doing what I set out to do.  My blog is about figuring out how an economy, our economy works.  I find that if I can keep my sense of humor then the really scarey stuff can be at least laughed off.

So, anyway, here I sit.  It’s another Sunday morning.  A while ago I heard the LA Times hit my front porch.  The temp is already at 75 degrees.  And for now, I have nothing left to say.  I think I’ll go to the pool.

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Weekly Tags

So here we are again, adding things up, reliving the week’s research and hoping that doing so will unearth even more blogosphere gold.

I spent quite a bit of time this week looking at the financial industry.  But I came across this site when I visited a blogger who had been brought to my attention by wordpress.com’s new “automatically generated related tags”. I seem to remember there was some lamenting at the state of financial literacy in school age children.  This project called, Banking on our Future, has several strong memes:  Urban education, political correctedness, and the real effects of a true financial education on our children.  The Board of Directors smacks of money, and the articles on the blog lead one to believe that in money matters god may be on your side.  Hope floats.  Ah well, who knows maybe the $836,000,000 they’ve spent of educating 228,000 kids will change the world.

I guess you can tell, dealing with the money men and women this week has left me cranky.  This next tag came about because there appears to be a species of search engine which crawls the sphere looking to link you up with an ad for their business.  This one came in looking to lead me to his business blog about MLMs.  His comment was easily recognizable as a car salesman’s hello.  But then I shouldn’t complain, right?  Traffic is traffic.  Plus, you might actually be interested in finding someone to invest in your home business so why not at least take a look.  Just remember to cross reference your Google search so you see all sides.

As you might have noticed, I do have some thoughts about the coming election and the effect the new president might have on the economy.  I could spend time commenting on this type of news report but something about Obama’s reaching out to new voters, and thinking voters at that, makes me less concerned about this foolishness than I used to be.

 Which leads me to this last little link.  Marc Prensky’s name came up in a discussion about media, learning, and writing at Nicola Griffith’s blog.  I had never heard of him but as a veteran of the education system and the ongoing battle to make it computer literate I could feel myself certainly responding to his message.  Why are kids still carrying 30 lbs of textbooks when the money spent on them could be used to deal with the ongoing economic crisis in our classrooms.  Fear of the machine and the loss of power it would bring about in the corporate atmosphere of America’s staid and true education system are real issues and I am glad someone’s addressing them because the 50% drop out rate doesn’t mean necessarily that students are failing, it may mean schools and their resistence to change may be failing the students.

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Should a blog worry about popularity?

I guess the first thing to consider in this question is a definition of popularity.  In some circles that word means that others like you.  But in the blogosphere that term appears to mean that others visit you, comment to you, recommend you via links and trackbacks, and add you to their permanent rotation via a blogroll, a bookmark, or favorites list.

So should a blog worry about achieving such recognition, should it in other words try to be popular?  Some blogs start right out asking you to recommend them to others.  Buttons appear, usually at the bottom of a post that allow you to favorite them by saving to del.icio.us or technorati or to Stumble It! or to Digg This!  There are dozens of these services.  All available to link you to friends and popularize them, too.  But does this mean that because everyone else is doing it, that you should to?  Or should you wait and let them come to you.

Screen views are another way to increase your popularity quotient.  The more the merrier appears to be the way.  Screen views can be measured by duration (how long you visit) or by frequency (how often you visit).  This seems relevant either way but who’s to say whether frequency beats duration except is sex where they are both neck and neck.  One of the easiest ways to get started here is by setting up a companion site at one of the social networks, www.myspace.com or www.youtube.com

Meanwhile, two other ways to reach an audience of fans is to allow the visitor to subscribe to a rss reader or an email delivery servicewww.feedblitz.com and www.feedreader.com will both set your blog up with buttons to click.  My favorite of course is the one that carries my blogs.  Still, have we really answered the question?

In real life, the harder you work at being popular the harder it may be to become so.  The same may be true of blogs.  My take is to keep your blog real.  Make it have your voice.  And then see what happens.

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Bloggerville

Well, if you have been paying attention here at wordpress then you will have noticed that the format changes aroused a protest storm that rivals the Olypic Torch situation in San Francisco.  The forum at least was aroused and already I notice that my spellcheck is back on the edit dashboard.  Plus, and I say it with some trepidation, the changes aren’t all bad. Whoops, I spoke way too soon. 

 When I saved the above graph by clicking on the newly placed “Save” button, I was immediately sent to a preview page.  Yep, that’s what is happening now.  It is acting like it’s publishing my post and besides that it isn’t coming up in a new window so I have to use the back button instead of the close.  I wonder why a programmer would want to do that?  At least it isn’t automatically publishing so that is okay but still it feels like this is an easy way to lose a post. The thing is, bloggers, you might as well get used to this.  It is the norm.  And it appears from the comments in the forum, the programmers at wordpress are proud of it.  I highly recommend that this is the time to open up your mind to doing some outside research on how blogs work.  

Tomorrow, I’ll be reviewing The Everything Blogging Book by Aliza Sherman Risdahl.

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Blogging, bloggers, and the blogosphere they came with

I have been putting off this writing about blogs for a while but with last week’s unforseen changes in the wordpress format I think it is time.  It is a curious, curious world the blogosphere.  Filled with strange computer images, and stranger computer imagers.  The most constant thing about it is the element of change.  A world filled with competition driven angst and click driven mania to be first to be rich because you’re first.  Programs, programmers, and web designers.  Constant updates, requested and not requested, but like this one I’m talking about, foisted on the user in a sporadic barrage. 

Four days ago I opened up my blog, I say that with some disbelief, to find that a new layout was now in place on my wordpress dashboard.  Buttons had been moved.  The options for tags and categories were subtly different enough so that I had to spend time learning how they now worked.  Even the terminology for management had morphed, maybe into something more valuable and useful but I’ll never know since the change was so abrupt as to be disrupt.  For instance, one little item was now missing from my editing buttons.  There is no spell check.

And then, there was the case of the missing post.  I was writing a new post, crafting it as I went by making sure I saved often as I wrote.  My habit is to write the whole post, making note of where I might want to place links and then when I have finished the first write, I go back and insert.   I save after each inserted link.  Finally, I use the preview this post button to see the almost finished product.  This time, as I wrote, I realized I was taking even more care probably because I was trying to think out the best way to word my thoughts.  Anyway, with the process almost done, I clicked on the preview button.  Up popped the separate window, which I enlarged and there was my post.  I noted one small grammatical change but the rest looked great.  So I closed the window and guess what?  Instead of returning me to my almost perfect post, I found myself looking at the first paragraph I had written.  Frantic searching with the back button revealed that everything except this one small piece was inexplicably gone.  Thanks wordpress programmers.  Two for two.  No spellchecker and the preview process can’t be trusted.

What to do?  I clicked on the support button.  Support is closed. 

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