7th Anniversay – The Political Temper Tantrum

November marked my 7th Anniversary of blogging. Celebrating this milestone by writing this post turned out to be very hard. I’m mesmerized by the American election, and can’t seem to move on until I’ve digested what happened!

I’m not an American, but I have strong ties to both my American friends and a community in Arizona (where I spend the winter.) Then there is the not insignificant influence that the United States has on my country, Canada.  Research associate Simon Palamar  explained this relationship by saying “We’re sleeping next to an elephant, so when they shift in bed, we feel it.”

If I had been an American voter, and a Republican, I don’t know if I could have voted for Donald Trump. Of course, the same thing can be said about the Democrats and Clinton. Neither candidate seemed particularly worthy if you believed everything the media reported.

The QuipperyWatching the election night coverage on three different stations felt a bit like an indoctrination into why I should have got a college education (so I would know how to vote for the right party.) After the election, there were violent protests; the accusations that all Trump supporters are racist, sexist, homophobic bigots; the demand for the immediate suspension of the Electoral College, petitions to secede from the Union, etc. It reminded me of a small child throwing a temper tantrum, not a free society where one side might be unpopular with the other side, but that’s okay.

Would the words have been softer or the backlash less if the Democrats had won? No one can say for sure, though I’m sure there are media pundits who can generate a few thousand words to convince their faithful.

I can finish this post now because of hope. I hope people will start to question the value and veracity of all media. I hope people will look at the world through a lens of optimism instead of the lens of fear. I hope people will remember that a democracy is a political system of free and fair elections, and it is impossible for everyone to achieve everything they want all of the time. I hope Americans will give their President-Elect a fair chance.

Last, but not least, I hope people will be more tolerant. There is more than one religion, more than one political party, more than one way to think about just about anything, more than one way to do just about anything.

Trump is what happens when you spent the last 7 Thanksgiving dinners lecturing your angry uncle from your Vox index cards.
– Clarice Feldman, American Thinker, November 13, 2016 –

What makes your way always right, and the other person’s way always wrong?

Unofficial WordPress Undiscovered Club

Maybe you remember “The Never Been Freshly Pressed” Club (NBFP). I started it in 2013 because there were so many of us WordPress.com  bloggers who had never been ‘pressed‘. (‘Freshly Pressed’ was a WordPress magazine, of sorts, that featured the writings of every day bloggers.)

discover-badge-circle‘Freshly Pressed’ has been allowed to die. It has been replaced by Discover – a slick, modern online magazine. The editors select content from about  53 million posts per month, so the chances of your post being chosen are still quite slim, but if you do get selected, you get to put a badge on your sidebar!

After almost seven years of blogging, I believe I have demonstrated an inability to be slick or modern – therefore I am, by extension, Undiscoverable. For that reason, I think I can safely form the Undiscovered Club, and proclaim myself  President of the Canadian chapter. Should he accept, Al at thecvillean is my choice for President of the American chapter. (He is current President of NBFP.)

If you would like to join our club, use the comment section below to state your unqualifications (first, and foremost, you must never have been featured on Discover.) You may also decide to volunteer for a position of your choice.

You might want to download the Unfeatured Undiscovered Club Badge to display on your blog. (I put mine on my ‘About’ page, along with all my other unprestigious awards.)

Be sure to tell all your Undiscovered blogging friends about our new Club!

In keeping with our general philosophy of “undeserved unknownness“, I refer you to this post that demonstrates the virtues of ‘unning’:
Unsubscribe, Unfollow, Unclutter – It’s UnFriday!

Hawaii – Over the Top Writing Makes me do Just the Opposite

You’ve probably seen some of these ‘over the top’ words in Post Titles on the internet. They are supposed to be so enticing that you will click through to read the story. Here are some of the most common superlatives:

Utterly Strangest
Outrageous
Amazing
Groundbreaking Truth
Astonishing
Incredible Bombshell
Awesomely Stunning
Unbelievable (or You Won’t Believe Your Eyes)
Insanely Gorgeous
Impossible
Absolutely Unbeatable
You’ll Never Guess
Ridiculous
or Jaw Dropping

for stories, that will

Blow you away
Be to Die For
Take Your Breath Away
Change Your World
Freak You Out

because

well, OMG – This is Genius!!!

This style of writing has just the opposite effect on me – I simply refuse to click through to read it.

Just this once, though, I’m going to use words from the list above to describe my photos for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge (which is Opposites.) These photos were taken on a trip to the Hawaiian Islands.
ocean rocks trees

OMG! The scenery was to die for! My jaw dropped as I watched the waves crash onto the rocks. Bombshell – that soft looking water can crush the hard looking rock into sand!

cooled flow plants

I was freaked out by how this once hot flowing magma could become, like, just the opposite – cold and hard! Unbelievable!

The Quippery
That ends my attempt at this writing ‘style’ – would you add any words or phrases to the list above?

Common Blogging Mistakes – To Fix or Not to Fix

I am the poster child for bloggers who have long since passed their best before date, if in fact I ever had one. I have a boatload of fake followers with names like ‘fbrxy3579’ but very few of them are actual readers. Most of the people I call ‘near and dear’ give me a glassy stare, and mutter something like “I haven’t checked the internet in the past 8 months” when I ask them if they read my last post.

I don’t blame them – I’ve been blogging longer than most guinea pigs live, and my content is a ‘how to of what not’ to write about. I also have made many ‘blogging mistakes‘. Sure, I’ve fixed most of those, but I perversely hold onto others.

You probably have made some of these ‘mistakes’ too, and maybe, like me, you just can’t be bothered to take the whole ‘What Not To Do‘ thing any more seriously than the ‘What Not to Wear’ thing.  If you are, however, curious – here is my list of what you might or might not want to do:

  • Small font sizes can make the typeface hard to read, as does paragraphs of white words on a dark background. (WordPress.com gives all bloggers some choice of font type and size, regardless of the theme, I believe.) Many browsers do let you zoom in and out, or change the font and colors in the options panel – should the reader need to make these kinds of adjustments.
  • Comic Sans typeface,  Script and other harder to read display fonts –  good for headings, maybe not so good for paragraphs.
  • If you throw Color theory out the window with Dizzy color combinations – green and yellow, red on black, anything neon – they might have an impact on readability.
  • Really, really wide blocks of type. A very wide column of text might cause your readers to get lost when they move from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. Do you want lost readers?
  • One long paragraph. If you are paragraph challenged, write a post of 500 words or more. No breaks, no headings, no graphics. Then try to read it.
  • Large blocks of centered text – alters legibility, making text harder to read – but might work in some situations.
Comic Sans 10 pt
An example of Comic Sans Font, small size, white on black and red on black, long paragraphs, centered!
  • One line paragraphs. If you can’t get the hang of how to make a paragraph, just make each line a new paragraph! That’s what most news outlets do, right?!
  • Dead ends make your blog harder to navigate. When readers land on a post, you should give them an easy to click ‘Home’ button that takes them to your home page. Try not to leave them stranded!
  • Distractions – dancing critters, blinking text, auto play music. Do your readers love it when your post takes control of their computer and sings out a tune or an animated something starts?
  • Include the search box if you want your reader to find something else on your blog!
  • Turn on readability on mobile devices if you think people might want to read your blog on a tiny phone screen!
  • Big photos – when you upload your photos, do you  compress them? If not, your readers might have to watch your photo load one line at a time.
  • Categories and tags – what if you just throw it all in one drawer and call it a day! Of course, Categories and Tags do have a purpose that might be useful to you and your readers.
  • If you never, ever proof read – will readers know that you meant ‘book’ not ‘boob’?
  • If you use lots of badges and widgets and graphics that march down the side of your blog, it could affect your blog’s load time. Are your readers more patient than you are!?
  • Do you beef up your text with lots of visual clutter if you don’t have much to say?
  • Research – there is a wealth of inaccurate, insignificant or out-of-date content that is far easier to find – think about why you could choose to dig a bit deeper and provide accurate information.
  • Broken links – they take time to find and fix. If you don’t want to find them, then is it a good option to just never link to any other site?
  • Do you respond to all comments – or do you pick and choose who you respond to and who you ignore. Do you say “Thanks” to that person who only said “Great”? How about using the ‘Like’ button instead?
  • Do you write posts, even when you have nothing to say? Do you reblog a post you wrote before so your readers can reread something you wrote when you still had nothing to say?
  • Do you use too few social media buttons? Or too many social media buttons? Who knows how many are too few or too many?
  • Do you use multiple pages for what could easily be a single post?


What blogging ‘mistakes’ have you read about? Have you corrected them, or chosen to keep them?

Transition – Beep Beep Boop is Gone?

The dawn of a new day. If there are clouds, then a sunrise can be a remarkably beautiful transition from dark to light.

orange pink clouds Alberta

Perhaps our blogging hosts, WordPress.com, were thinking of dawn when they recently unveiled the New High Speed Editor. I certainly thought they had made a few improvements since they first introduced the ‘New Editor’. It loads so fast that the ever so unpopular, wait while I’m working, ‘Beep Boop Boop’ screen is gone!

Another plus – images can be dragged and dropped from your desktop right into your post. Unfortunately, the new editor is still in transition – the search feature for creating links to my old posts is missing.

How long will it take before this transitional editor is finished? Or will it ever be? Will we still have access to the good old editor that many or us prefer, or will it eventually disappear?

It is like asking, ‘Will there be a beautiful sunrise tomorrow morning’. No one really knows.

Light precedes every transition. Whether at the end of a tunnel, through a crack in the door or the flash of an idea, it is always there, heralding a new beginning.
– Teresa Tsalaky, The Transition Witness –

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is: Transition.

WordPress Bloggers React to the Rainbow Banner

WordPress.com celebrated the US Supreme Court decision (that same-sex couples can marry nationwide) by posting a Rainbow Banner (the LGBT Flag) across the top of every WordPress bloggers ‘My Sites’ and ‘Reader Page’. These are the first pages WordPress bloggers see when they log onto their site. While only they can see it (not their readers), every WordPress.com blogger in the world was presumably seeing the same Rainbow flag.

503-wp-blue-bgThe response from the WordPress blogging community was immediate, with questions being posted to the WordPress forum: How can I remove this!?

An early response from a WordPress Member was “The rainbow master bar was added in support of the Supreme Court of the United States ruling on same-sex marriage today… However, as this is a polarized issue and the community support forums are not the place to hold such discussions we are closing threads related to the mastbar.”

With that, they closed the topic. As further requests came in, WordPress repeatedly closed each topic after responding with “The banner is temporary. It will eventually be removed. Threads are being closed as the public WordPress.com forum is not the place for these discussions.” In some of the requests, the user simply said the banner was offensive, just as a Swastika banner would be offensive. Others said they would prefer to have an option as to what appeared on the top of those pages. Others weren’t aware of what the banner meant, and though they liked rainbows, they didn’t want one there. Others asked, how long is ‘eventually’?

At this point, I thought the Rainbow banner was one design decision that WordPress hadn’t thought out very carefully. They chose to impose their support, and an implied solidarity, onto every WordPress.com blogger. Many of these bloggers were quick to object to that kind of forced compliance and rightfully so.

One forum moderator responded to the bloggers objections by saying, they thought everyone who posted a protest on the forum was a hater. Hater? Everyone? I object to the banner, but I’m not a hater. I simply object to not having a choice as to whether I want to fly a particular flag. There are lots of flags and graphics I would object to – not out of hate – just a desire to have  control of the design in the ‘living room’ of my blog. I think WordPress made two errors – one in their disrespect for their user base by posting the banner, and the other in the way they responded to the users when they objected.

What do you think?

Inspiration

Accuracy
Quote Investigator – Garson O’Toole diligently seeks the truth about quotations. Who really said what?
Snopes.com – Rumor has it – a reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.
Artists, Artisans, Crafts and Creative Minds
Bent Objects – Simple objects rearranged to create humorous figures.
Real Snail Mail – mail delivered by real snails.
Guillermo Forchino – delightful comic art objects that often resemble the world of comic strip and cartoon characters.
Curliosity – functional and decorative objects from brass and copper.
Pondering Pool – the humorous art of Susan Mrosek.
Egg-Bot Project – a machine that can draw intricate designs on spherical or egg-shaped objects.
Calvin Nicholls – wildlife and nature scenes crafted from archival paper by a Canadian artist.
Cut Out and Keep -online community makes and shares step-by-step craft tutorials.
Instructables – DIY instructions for just about anything you would want to make.
Drywall Art Sculpture -artist Bernie Mitchell uses drywall compound as a sculpture medium.
Michael Paul Smith and Elgin Park – Michael has crafted a 1/24th-scale recreation of everyday scenes from mid-20th century America, ranging from the 1920s to the mid-1960s.
Jake Cress – Jake creates classic, original, fantasy, and restored furniture made with 18th century techniques. In a world where furniture makers call themselves artists, Jake pokes fun by building pieces that make you laugh, and maybe think.
Kate McLean’s smell maps -Kate interviews a range of people—longtime residents, new arrivals and tourists—and sometimes even walks with them across their neighborhoods as they describe the smells they encounter. She then draws a map with contours or plots points that describe the range and intensity of smells as they waft from their sources.
Mad Man Knitting – from hobby to necessity, this man explores what knitting means to him.
Cardboard Box Office – a family that recreates movie sets out of cardboxes and household items.
The Jefferson Grid – Images from Google that fit in one square mile.

Authors
Lynne Truss – British writer and punctuation specialist
Robert Fulghum – American author and humorist
Garrison Keillor – the wise, low key observations of the American author of the program ‘A Prairie Home Companion’.
Cartoons
Savage Chickens – Canadian artist Doug Savage’s cartoons on sticky notes.
Simon’s Cat – a charming, yet mischievous cartoon cat that lives with Simon Tofield.
The Wizard of Draws – cartoons by Jeff Bucchino.
Vladstudio – playful wallpapers, apps, games and more by Russian digital artist Vlad Gerasimov.
Google Doodles – all the doodles that appear next to the Google Search box.
Doodlemum – Angie Stevens delightful drawings of her family and their daily adventures.
For Better or For Worse – an archive of the work of Canadian cartoonist Lynn Johnston.
The Middlest Sister – comics created by painstakingly cutting and pasting scrap paper and other items.
Mike Smith, Illustrator -an autobiographical comic about a family with young children.
Food
The World Carrot Museum – everything you would ever want to know about Carrots
the decorated cookie – a fun and funky blog about decorated cookies, painted marshmallows and other crafty sweets.
Galleries and Museums
Google Cultural Institute – Digitized Art Galleries and Artists from around the World
Go Grey, Girl!
Louise Pitre – Canadian actress
Anne Kreamer – author of “Going Gray”.
Halloween
Extreme Pumpkins – everything you need to know about pumpkin carving
Inspiration and Learning
TED Talks – A nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.
Introverts
Susan Cain – The Power of Introverts, A TED talk. Also go to Susan’s web site with information about The Quiet Revolution.
Photography
Christopher Martin Photography – wildlife photographer from Alberta, Canada
Andrew White – day-to-day activities of a LEGO minifig photographer.
Seniors
A Good Goodbye – The Family Plot Blog
Television, Movies, Performers
Rick Mercer – Canadian comedy and culture show
National Film Board of Canada -An online Screening Room that offers free streaming of documentary, animated films and interactive stories, all of which explore the world from a Canadian point of view.
Jeanne Robertson – extremely funny motivational speaker.
Trades and Training
Mike Rowe Works – Mike Rowe’s website – the goal of Profoundly Disconnected is to challenge the absurd belief that a four-year degree is the only path to success.
Quotations
The Quote Garden – established 1998 by Terri Guillemets
Quotations, The Other Pages – thousands of quotations drawn from hundreds of sources.
Demotivators – tongue in cheek – crushing dreams with hard truths.
Words and Images
Wordle – A free tool for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide.

 

Rise and Fall of RivetPics

In a land not so far away, in a time not so long ago, there was a very large kingdom called The Whorled. In the very middle of the kingdom was a huge castle where King Sharpmann lived with his family, friends, crusaders  and 70 million Minions. Outside the castle was a huge town where most of The Makers lived. The Makers created all sorts of beautiful things, wrote interesting stories and took wondrous photos. They captured them all and put them into big books which they would bring to the big town square every day. They would spread their books out on long tables so that everyone could look, talk about, and buy what they were seeing.

The Castle Minions enjoyed looking at the books, but were sad that they didn’t have a way to save and share the contents of The Maker’s books.  The King, who wanted happy Minions, invented a Copy Wand which he mass produced and distributed to all. The Minions only had to shake the wand  and utter the magic words, “Copyright be damned” and instantly they had an exact duplicate of any idea or image that The Makers had created.

The King decreed that these images should be called Rivets because they could be riveted to the tables in the town square. All this riveting would henceforth be called RivetPics. This activity kept The Minions busy, and it helped them to forget that they didn’t own many of things that were in the pictures. Even some of The Makers started using the wands, and much of the Whole Wide Whorled (or WWW as it was called) embraced the activity.

Inevitably though, the costs to run RivettPics increased so much that the King required an influx of capital. So he sent some of his Caped Crusaders off to the Dark Forest to ask for the help of the Wolf-like Investors who lived there. The Investors ears perked right up, and they said they would be more than happy to help the King with his creation, but they warned the King that when the Castle Tower Clock struck 2014,  the King would have to  start generating a significant return on their investment.

As 2014 drew nearer, the King decided that the way to profit from RivetPics was to tap into the Minion’s Mildly Moderate to Miniscule Wage.  He wasn’t quite sure how to do this, so he sent his crusaders on another mission. This time he sent them to Wallet Street, where they purchased a slightly used Monetization Strategy from Prince Mark for $9.95 a month plus tax. To kick start this marketing plan, the King created  Sponsored Rivets – which were promotions for certain rivets that came from a select group of Big Box Businesses  (BBB) that were willing to pay for this privilege.

These rivets were targeted to match the content that The Minions had riveted to the tables. The King hoped The Riveters wouldn’t notice that Sponsored Rivets  were really just slick advertising. The King need not have worried, for the Minions were enthusiastic about spending their wages to buy the things they had riveted to the tables.

Life was not so good for The Makers, however. The Riveters had gradually taken over many of the tables and this left less and less room for The Maker’s books. The Makers had started to think of these Rivets as screws, for in fact The Makers were being… well, you know what was happening to them. They had created all the original content, but they were receiving less and less attention for it, and were  receiving fewer and fewer bitcoins for their effort.

In retaliation, The Makers removed all their books completely. The once never ending source of the Rivets dried up. With no new ideas, the Riveters gradually lost interest in RivetPics. Sales slumped, and the BBB’s pulled all their advertising. This would have been devastating to the King, except he had sold RivetPics to Gaaaaagle a few months earlier.

The End

Is this the future for Pinterest too?

It took a while……… but I’ve finally arrived.

Why I reblogged Al’s post: When I was Freshly Pressed, I had to kick myself out of The Never Been Freshly Pressed Club. Without consulting anyone, I dictatorially selected Al at the cvillean to take over the position of President. This reblog is Al’s Acceptance Speech. I hope all WordPress Bloggers will go to Al’s blog and join the Club, follow his blog, and throw buckets of praise at him because he is one very nice person.

The Cvillean

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” – William Shakespeare  “Twelfth Night”

“Great men need great events.” – unknown author (although it might have been me)

Before this month, I fell squarely in the first quote category. Now I am honored to say I am one of those who has had greatness thrust upon him.

For those who do not know, I am a member of a club which was founded by a fascinating blogger, Margie, at As iAge. The club is aptly named “Never Been Freshly Pressed” and membership is very exclusive. There are only around 400,000 potential members. Margie was not only the founder, but self-appointed President as well. Earlier this month, Margie found herself in the embarrassing position of having been Freshly…

View original post 186 more words

My Freshly Pressed Natural Disaster

Michelle, a well meaning WordPress Story Wrangler, chose my post ‘Hidden Valley – A Community Lost’  for the honour of being Freshly Pressed. Michelle had been following the story of  the flooding of our community, and she thought it deserved a wider audience.

Unfortunately, most of the Freshly Pressed readers didn’t agree. They weren’t as drawn to a story that was tagged ‘Natural Disaster’ as they were to – well – just about every other post that day… or week… or month probably. So much for my expectations of Freshly Pressed fame! I don’t, of course, blame WordPress for my somewhat dismal showing.

WP StatsAll my long time, loyal readers (and you know who you six are!) will want to know about the meteorical rise in Viewer Stats that comes with being Freshly Pressed. I’m going to satisfy your curiosity by inserting a clip from my stats page. On the far left you will see a very, very short bar, which is my usual readership. The next three bars are what happened to my readership when I posted the stories that no one else in the Google World had picked up on – the Flooding on the Siksika Nation and Hidden Valley.

Continuing on from left to right, you can see what happened when The Mainstream Media finally picked up on the story. Freefall! When you get to the fourth bar from the right – that is where I was Freshly Pressed.

As if the loss of our entire Community in a flood wasn’t tragic enough, I must now announce my voluntary resignation as President of the “Never Been Freshly Pressed” (NBFP) Club. (It was very short sighted of me not to proclaim myself  LIFETIME PRESIDENT.)

We are going to need a new President, and because I am the Founder of the Club, I am quite prepared to stalk and bring down the person who I feel would be best qualified to carry on the traditions we don’t really have, but would have if we should ever need them.

It is with great pleasure that I dictatorially proclaim our Treasurer, Al, of the blog thecvillean, as our new President. Now, I know that Al is not a Canadian, and he is, well, a man. But he has worked very hard to manage our dark chocolate fund and I think his dedication should be recognized and rewarded. Congratulations, Al!

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.
– Rosalynn Carter –

As a NBFP Alumnus, I promise to sink back into relative obscurity. I promise to continue to write in the mediocre style that is my trademark. I promise to continue to overuse exclamation marks! And I promise to keep looking at life from the sunny side of the street.