Category Archives: blog

The fairytale and other journeys down the rabbit hole. Part 1 [MOVED]

This post was kidnapped by an ogre… I mean, this post was moved. Please go to Wickedly Witchy and read this post here.

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Stop that!

Dear commenters,

I like comments. I get a little thrill when I see I have a new comment. However, if you submit a comment and have your name as “free movie downloads” or “remodel your home”, I will not be approving your comment no matter what it says. As an example, I just got a notification for a ping back on my post yesterday about my driveway snow woes. I was ecstatic. Until I checked out the link and found it to be an advertisement for a motion sensor security system. “Guaranteed to monitor your home security and activity around your house!” I was not a happy camper.

So, dear spammers, kindly move along. You are wasting both your time and mine.

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Thank you!

You are all making me blush! Thank you for the comments and the emails about my blog and I’m overjoyed that you like it. Thank you so much!

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My New Year’s Resolutions. Same as everyone else’s really…

Well, it’s the New Year and we all know that with the New Year comes our New Year’s resolutions. Some people have a big huge list of things they want to accomplish for 2011. Really, a list of a whole bunch of things just makes me feel pressured and triggers my knee-jerk reaction of “I don’t wanna.” So, I have only two resolutions for this year.

Lose weight.

Move out.

Ugh, lose weight. How cliché, I know. Everybody has lose weight as a New Year’s resolution. The thing is, I’ve been steadily gaining weight for the past five years. A few pounds every year. Back when I was working at Walgreens and on my feet all day I was at the lowest weight I’d been in my adult life. That was 230 lbs. Then I started to work for ITW and sat at a desk. I gained it back at a horrifying rate. Then, in the winter of 2009 I decided I would lose weight again and began to take a walk around the upstart storage area during lunch. It was 20 minutes walking in a circle and I didn’t have to worry about running into anything while reading on the move. I lost 25 lbs. that winter but in the spring I discovered that it got very hot up there as the weather grew warmer. I was forced to stop my lunch time walking and gained the 25 lbs. back with interest. I am now getting too close to 280 lbs. for comfort and peace of mind.

So, this winter it is back upstairs and to walking. I hope to return to 230 lbs. Maybe not in this year but to get a good portion off before 2012. When spring hits, I’ll have to switch to a different exercise. I hope to move out this spring and being in my own place will give me more control. Also, I need to be more mindful of what I eat. On Sunday when I was watching movies in my bedroom on my laptop ( because my Dad was still home and hogging the living room TV and Roku box), I got up to stretch my legs and wandered into the kitchen. I started to snoop through the pantry and thought “Am I hungry or just bored?” I was bored. So I left the junk food where it was and went back to finish my movie. That is the type of thing that will help me lose weight.

As for my second goal, I’m counting the days until May. I need to move out. I can’t stay with my parents anymore. I can’t stand it. I have to restrain myself from murder at this point. And the cigarette smoke is just killing me. I wake up every morning and have to cough and hack the gunk out of my throat. We have four air purifiers, one of which is actually in my bedroom, and it’s just not cutting it. I feel smoked out and the house is always dirty. I can’t clean because my Mom is camped out in the living room doing her best impression of a chimney! So, come hell or high water I will be moving out this spring. I’m on the waiting list for the apartment complex I want to move into and I can’t wait to move. I need to buy a table and measure the doorway to make sure the couch I want will fit through the door!

Happy New Year!

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The year 2010 in a nutshell.

It’s been a busy year. We entered President Obama’s second year of office and rode our country’s economic rollercoaster for another 365 days. We’ve had both major events and not so major events happen in 2010 and this is a quick look back on what was noteworthy.

• A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hits Haiti on January 12 and devastates the poor country. International aid begins pouring in on January 14 and authorities estimate a staggering death toll of over 200,000 people on January 19.

» The ball gets rolling on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on February 2.

¤ Obama gives his outline for the new health care revisions on February 22.

≈ House approves the health care bill on March 21.

◊ Obama signs the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law on March 23. The USA, for the most part, is not happy.

· Thirty four rescued from Chinese mine collapse on April 4. The event goes mostly unmark by those in America.

• Arizona adopts strict, controversial immigration law on April 23. Police now have the power to question people suspected of illegal immigration to show proof of citizenship or visa.

« BP oil spill happens on April 20. The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon platform kills eleven people and injures seventeen. Oil begins to pour into the Gulf of Mexico from burst well. On April 30 the oil slick reaches coast of Louisiana.

♦ Authorizes find unexploded car bomb in Time Square, New York on May 2.

↔ Obama elects Elena Kagan for Supreme Court Justice on May 10. America wonders why Supreme Court is whining about it so much.

º Stanley McCrystal booted as Commander in Afghanistan on June 23. Open mouth, insert foot. Replaced by David Patraeus. Most think that McCrystal did it because he wanted out of Afghanistan.

√ BP caps oil well on July 15 after eighty six days of oil gushing into the ocean. It is estimates that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of barrels of oil escaped.

× Senate confirms Elena Kagan on August 5. America does not care.

≠ Obama announces end to combat mission in Iraq on August 31. Troops to be out by end of 2011. I’ll believe it when I see it.

♣ Obama refuses to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy on September 7. Liar, liar pants on fire.

• White House lifts moratorium on deep water drilling on October 12. There is another oil rig accident shortly afterward. Moratorium replaced. Government looks stupid. Again.

« The Chilean miner rescue begins on October 12. By October 13 all thirty three miners are free. The world watches this happen and every TV station in America broadcasts the rescue. I miss TV show. Am annoyed by missing TV show.

± In Midterm Elections, the Republicans win the House and the Democrats keep the Senate on November 4. World does not end despite the complaining.

º Senate passes tax cut compromise (complete with tax cuts for the wealthy) on December 15. House passes the same on December 17.

∞ The Senate votes to repeal DADT on December 18. Obama signs the repeal of DADT into law on December 22. (This is otherwise known as “Obama scrambles to end the year on a good note so we are distracted from his tax cut failure.” Alas, it did not work.)

It’s strange to see what we focused on in the news. The Haiti earthquake was front page news for weeks but there were also several other big earthquakes this year. There was an earthquake in Chile on February 27, another in China on April 13, and in Indonesia on October 25. The unemployment rate jumped and fell and skittered all over the place and we were told that the recession had actually ended in the summer of last year. Too bad we were all too busy trying to make ends meet to notice.

Many of us watched the Super Bowl, the World Series, or the World Cup and cheered and screamed when our favorite teams scored. Others just wished the sports broadcasts would go away so our prime time TV shows would come back. There was the absurd, like Lady Gaga’s fashion sense, and the serious. There was the interesting, like the tallest building in the world going up in Dubai, and the amazing, like a sixty foot sinkhole in Guatemala. We waited for the government to impart new legislation and complained when, for the most part, it failed to do anything constructive.

Do I think this year was a waste? Well, yes, for the most part. Nothing changed and we need change if we are going to survive in the long run. Obama swore he wouldn’t extend the tax cuts for the wealthy and while I understand that the Republicans forced his hand in accepting the whole package or nothing at all, it also means he failed. We’ll go on just like before and maybe the economic situation will improve and maybe it won’t. But if we don’t change anything about how we act and handle money then we are only setting ourselves up for another fall. You know that the second the government gets a chance, they’ll do away with the health care reform. That will be the first thing the next president does and America will applaud when it happens.

We want change but don’t know what change we should be searching for. I don’t know either. I don’t have any answers. But I do know that I will be handling my own money much differently than I did before. The entire system of finance needs to change and be less about making a buck for the big man and more for making sure we all have a buck to feed and shelter ourselves.

Shortcuts to 2010 articles.

Yahoo slideshow of 2010 pictures. Just let the video play and it will show you all four features.

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The NaNoWriMo writting challenge and blogging do not go well together.

What possessed me to think I could do the NaNo writing challenge and still keep up my blog? I must be out of my mind. I tripped over 15,000 words this weekend, most of which I wrote at the Saturday write-in where we had a total of twelve people show up. We basically took over the Crooked Tree Coffee House but they were sure happy to see us. The Crooked Tree does good business because of the Lindenwood University down the road but everyone could use a little help and we all buy both breakfast and coffee while there. So, they are happy to be taken over. The only problem is that it is an old building and all those computers hooked up at once can sometimes be a pain.

I manage about 3,000 words a day, which puts me way ahead of the curve. To make it to 50,000 words by the end of November a person has to write at least 1,665 words a day. Since I bombed so badly last year, I’m glad to have a big cushion in case I get an attack of the lazy later. Which I won’t. Because I’m an awesome novel writing machine. (flexes imaginary muscles) Yeah! I own your NaNo soul!

My new Sony Vaio laptop is awesome and I am in love with it. It was more expensive than I was going to get, about $900, but splinting the cost between three people for an early Christmas gift made me very happy. So, really I only spent $288. (Daniel, cash that damn check! You’re throwing off my ledger counts!) It’s fast and new and shiny. I tried to stop by the Best Buy by my work on Thursday to get a sleeve to protect it but the only one they had for 14inch size was $35 and that was not happening. I tried Walmart but had no luck. They had a 15inch but it wasn’t as padded as I wished and had a flap instead of a zipper. So, I went to the Best Buy by my house and found one for $24 that I liked. Damn expensive things for some cloth and foam padding.

Every clock in this freaking office is different and it’s beginning to mess with my head. I hate day light savings time. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you the latest developments in my TMJ /TMD adventure. Fun fun!

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Part two of Charles Apples’ 10 tip for bloggers. Tip six through ten.

Happy Friday, everybody! We’re back with tips six through ten from Charles Apple on ACES. Yesterday I went through tips one through five and had a good old ramble across Mr. Apple’s post. I explained some terms the younger audience might not understand and generally just fussed around. Now we go on with the second part while I only have five hours of sleep and no breakfast because I slept through my alarm. Fun will be had by all. Ha!

Tip number six is to react to the news. This harkens back to tip number one, having something to talk about. I can remember when the idea to start a proper blog wiggled into my brain during the summer. I was so worried that I wouldn’t have enough fresh content to post. Just following the news has given me so many topics to talk about that I have posts written through next week and into November. (Don’t look at me like that.)MSN and CNN are my new best friends. You might not be the first to break news but you’ll be the first to state your unique opinion about it. Aggregate it (remember that this means to gather information) and then link to it as soon as possible.

Then you need to make it yours. If you can come up with a new angle or odd topic that relates to the news then people will be interested in reading your post. This can easily be accomplished by being a brat. Humor rules the world, my friends. If you can somehow make the news you are posting about funny, by relating another event to it or just plain making fun of it, then a lot of readers will be drawn to it. Because being a snot is amusing and easy. Even personal blogs can gather a readership by playing the humor card. Link it. Share it. Get read.

You knew it was going to come up sometime in this post. Tip number seven is using social networking sites wisely. Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, LinkedIn, Tumblr, StumbleUpon. Oh, the horror. But it works. I actually found Charles Apple’s blog through a Delicious bookmark. As much as I loath scrolling through the posts about what you had for breakfast and whatever cute thing your pet/kid is doing, some of the content pasted on there is actually useful and can sometimes be a great source for material. It almost makes me sad that I can’t reach Twitter and Facebook from my work computer any more due to a ‘net nanny program. Almost. I’ve found that I’ve had to dedicate a great deal of energy and time to maintaining a blog, even one only a few months old. So if you have no desire to use your breaks and lunchtime trolling the internet for interesting content and material, then I suggest you give up now. Blogging eats your brain.

The number eight tip is to have some fun with it. I just said that blogging eats your brain but if you don’t enjoy the act of blogging then you aren’t going to get anywhere with it. You and your readers have to like what you are doing. Remember when I said that some of my favorite blogs were personal humor blogs? No matter the topic you’ve chosen to blog about, there are times when a little humor will go a long way. (Or you can misspell a common word and take three times to correct it only to end up laughing helpless at your desk while your co-worker looks at you like you’re insane. Because proofreading your own work is such a joy. That works too.)

Keep it clean is our number nine tip. I must admit, before I read Charles’ explanation about this tip I thought he meant keep the cursing down to a minimum but he really meant to keep it visually clean. I had to snicker at myself. Charles’ pet peeve is automatically playing video and sound that starts up when you load a page. My pet peeve is light text on a dark background. I’m one of the lucky people who see that and get an instant headache. Another thing that will irritate a reader is having a lot of advertisements on your site. If I have to hunt down the main article on your blog among the many advertisements or picture avatars then I’m going to get irritated and probably leave. Your content should be easy to find and front and center. A reader should not have to search among your mess of a website for something. Keep it clean. Keep it simple. Don’t design things like you’re thirteen. If I see anything sparkle on your site, I’ll leave.

Finally we have tip number ten telling us to do the unexpected and Charles is a bit of a dork. Sorry Charles. There are many things a blogger can do to attracted attention and keep readers entertained. Post games, giveaways, and participate in blog tours. There are some very large tours going on now because of Halloween. Write and design an awesome post and join the tour for whatever holiday or event is next. People will shuffle through your website because of the tour and might come back afterward. I try to post a wide array of material in hopes that something will attract reader’s attention. You might want to be narrower in your content but I find my way works just fine.

Author Note: This is basically a list and because of that it would have been very easy to start each paragraph with “Tip number blah”. But the writer in me starts twitching when I see paragraphs or sentences started with the same phrase or word. Ever read something where everything starts with “the”? You notice it as weird and uninteresting. It usually makes proper writers go mental and will have your literature teacher foam at the mouth. Don’t do it.

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Charles Apple from ACES and his 10 tips for bloggers. Did you know that Microsoft Word recognizes ‘blogosphere’ as a proper word?

I often stumble across interesting articles and blog posts while going through other people’s bookmarks. Delicious.com is a fantastic bookmarking site that I am a frequent visitor to. It allows me to find stories that appeal to people because those readers have already taken the time to bookmark the links themselves. It’s a bit of a short cut. Yesterday, among the many bookmarks announcing tips for bloggers, I came across a bookmark that was a little different. Charles Apple is a freelance visual journalist who blogs on the ACES, American Copy Editors Society, website. Everyone could use a little help out here in the blogosphere.

Charles Apple – Everything I’ve Learned the Hard Way, here in the blog: 10 tips for bloggers

Tip number one for bloggers, says Charles Apple, is to have something to say. Of course, one usually needs to have something to say in order to have a blog (although this doesn’t always stop people from trying. Look how random this blog is.) But, how I deal with the world and my moral and ethical views often mean that something in the news or across the internet is going to get a reaction out of me that I’ll want to share. So, I guess you can say my topic is life and how most of you irritate the hell out of me. I post in the hopes that someone reading this will nod their head at their computer screen and agree with me. And then I hope they’ll post a comment telling me that they agree with me. [hint hint] Or not agree with me. Post that too. I love a good argument.

The second tip Charles provides is to post often and stick with it. Post frequently and regularly. I very much agree with this. When I was attempting to come up with a name for my blog that I wouldn’t hate a week later, I thought of a lot of snappy phrases and cute words that came up as being already taken. In a fit of insanity, I looked up the URL names that were already taken and found that every one of them had not been updated in years. I think I almost burst a blood vessel. How rude and how annoying! Someone was hogging my name and wasn’t even doing anything with it. You need to keep up your posts and have fresh content regularly. Even if you only post once a week, don’t skip a week or suddenly stop posting because you have a personal situation without making an announcement on your blog. Readers will think you’ve abandoned the blog, which happens a lot. I try to post every weekday but sometimes only make four days out of the week. Strangely, it’s mostly Wednesdays I miss.

Tip number three is to show a little personality, add a little bit of yourself to your blog. Some of my favorite blogs are personal humor blogs. Basically, I enjoy other people’s misfortune and slice of life moments. That’s why I usually take a post or two a week and talk about my life. I have TMJ / TMD and I know that might be interesting for people who have the same or just like to hear the world shit on me. Yeah, hi. There are posts that I think people might find interesting about trips I take around town and any photography I may do. It makes a nice balance between the news and society posts.

Ah, readers. What blog would be anything without its readers? The number four tip Mr. Apple lists is to interact with your readers. I would like to mention, dear readers, that this means you have to leave a comment in order for the author to interact with you. Did you know that WordPress has a dandy hit counter? I can see you and I know you are stopping by without leaving a comment. You make authors feel sad. Feed an author? Leave a comment. I write this blog to give my opinion about current issues and news stories. I’m aware that people will both agree and disagree with me. I would love to have a discussion with a reader and would happily talk with any of you. Communicating with readers will make the reader feel involved and keep them coming back for more.

Now we come to tip number five and something all bloggers obsess over a little. This tip involves getting your blog out there to readers, to link your posts around the web, and SEO stats. You must write about it and you must link it. You must aggregate! Wow, a lot of words you don’t know the meaning of, uh? Charles is simply telling you to network with this tip. SEO, the abbreviation of the phrase ‘search engine optimization’, merely means the frequency a search engine, like Google, shows your blog or site within its search results and how often people click that link. Basically, how many people are searching for and finding your site. The amount of activity on your blog raises your SEO stats and this means that search engines display your site at the top of their results. It’s a bit of a Catch-22. To be found on search results you need a lot of traffic but to get a lot of traffic you need to be found.

As for Mr. Apple’s instructions to aggregate, I believe he means to gather data and comply it in a way that has meaning to your post. Exercising my Google-fu in a search for the term ‘aggregate’ mostly just gets a person the definition for the rock bits and pieces construction companies use to make assault and concrete. In this case the information you need to support a post is the bits and pieces you are collecting to make a whole. To spread your blog and your content across the web you need to link to other blogs and sites and, if you can, have them link back to you. As I said, this is basic networking. I’m doing the same thing now. I’m responding to an article Charles Apple wrote in hopes that someone will follow the links and come back to me and my blog. A search for him might now show me as a result. I know. I’m evil like that.

Tomorrow, tips six through ten because this is getting long and I need to do the mail before they take away the pick-up box.

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