Blogroll

There are 164 million (give or take a few million) blogs on the internet! Here are just a few of the ones that I have followed over the years.

Currently Active Bloggers

Christopher Martin at Christopher Martin Photography – Canada
A talented woman at composerinthegarden – USA
A Versatile writer at Curmudgeon at Large – USA
Angie Stevens at Doodlemum – UK
Lemony Gregg at Lemony Shots – USA
Mark Armstrong at Mark Armstrong Illustration – USA
Mike Smith at Mike Smith Illustrator – UK
Mike Hardisty at Say it with a Camera – UK
Peg at Peg-o-Legs Ramblings – USA
Ruth at Ruth E. Hendricks Photography – USA
Darla at She’s a Maineiac – USA
Dor at Technicolor Day Dreams and Virginia Views– USA
Steve at The Brown Road Chronicles – USA
Al at thecvillean – USA
Christine at The Good Life List – Canada
Nicole at The Middlest Sister – USA
Margo at The Other Side of 55 – Canada
Maralee at Through My Lens – USA
Amy at The World is a Book – USA

A Retired Blog is Not a Dead Blog…

Barb at Before Morning Breaks – USA
Susan at Coming East – USA
Fergiemoto at Creativity Aroused – USA
A Virginian at Silver in the Barn – USA

4th Anniversary of Blogging – Why I Think I am Entitled to Popularity

A Satirical look at Entitlement:

1. The facts: This is my 428th Post. I have been blogging for almost 4 years. I get about 60 views a day.

2. My Complaint: My popularity expectations are not being met.

3. My Goal: I want to be immensely popular.  I don’t want to put a lot of effort into promoting my blog, nor do I wish to learn how to be a better writer or photographer. No, I just want what popular bloggers have.

4. My Cunning Plan: I’m going to start a new Entitlement Movement. I welcome your suggestions on what I should call it.

5. What my Entitlement Movement will demand:

  • I want better wild animal photos for my blog. No one does a nicer job than the Canadian Photographer, Christopher Martin.  Oh sure, I could buy a camera like his, and learn how to use it, and spend days tramping through the wilderness – but I’d rather be sitting at my computer complaining. I think I am entitled to some of Christopher’s photos. He has lots of them.
  • I want better wild flower photos. Montucky at Montana Outdoors is very good. He (at least I think he is a he) is American, not Canadian, but I spend enough money in the USA during the winter when I visit there, so I think I am entitled to some of his photos too.
  • I want better drawings. I like the work of Doodlemum.  Yes, I suppose I could learn to draw better, but that would take a lot of time and like I said before, I’m better at complaining.
  • I want unique and inventive content. Terry Border from Bent Objects, Nicole at The Middlest Sister and Dan at A LEGO a Day are three of my favourites. I admire their creativity. I don’t have that skill set, and I’m not even sure I have that kind of capability – but it is what I want, and someone should give it to me. I’m entitled.
  • I want better stories. Most of my fellow bloggers are better writers than I am, so I want them to ghost write for me.
  • I want the same viewer stats as the top 1% of all bloggers. Why should they have so much, and I have so little?

It just dawned on me that I should be demanding better internet service too. I live in a rural area and the nearest internet tower provides “insufficient service” for my needs (“Insufficient service” – that is how my ghost writer would say it, I think). I know, I could move closer to where the services are – but it would be much better if they built a tower closer to my house. Not where I could see it, though. I don’t want my view destroyed.  It is bad enough that I can see power poles behind my property. I want all power poles to be underground so I can’t see them. I want all my power to come from the sun or the wind and I want it to be dirt cheap.

Speaking of my rural aspect, there are 17 pieces of property out my way and we were here long before the developers started to march across the horizon and build warehouses. We were here long before the nearest town became a city and annexed us. We were here first! I demand that all this newly developed land be given to me and that I be made President and CEO of all the enterprises that have replaced the homes of the moose and deer and fox.

I also want to have quicker access to an airport, but I don’t want planes flying over my house anymore. Sometimes they are so loud that I can hear them above the howl of the wind and the buzz of the mosquitoes. (I want the wind and mosquitoes to go away too.)

Now I want to go have a nap. Organizing an Entitlement Movement is hard work. I think I need to find ‘people’ to do this stuff for me. I’m entitled to have someone arrange for my entitlements.

You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.
– Abraham Lincoln –

 

Unofficial WordPress ‘Never Been Freshly Pressed’ Club

So You’ve Never Been Freshly Pressed! Then it is your lucky day, because you qualify for membership in the NBFP Club.  Yes, there are other bloggers just like you who have chosen WordPress.com but WordPress.com hasn’t chosen you… or them…

By my estimation, (and by virtue of my self appointed rank of President of NBFP I am authorized to do estimates) 99.9986% of WordPress bloggers have not, and never will be Freshly Pressed. Don’t ask me how I came to that conclusion. It is advanced math and like WordPress, I am not at liberty to tell you how and why I do what I do. Rest assured, however, that no matter how many of your fellow bloggers get Freshly Pressed and no matter how many of your fellow Bloggers are Freshly Pressed on numerous occasions, they still are a very small minority. There are, you see,  nearly 40 million new posts each and every month for WordPress to choose from!

I’m sure you are as excited about the NBFP Club as I am. You already know the benefits of Never Being Freshly Pressed, but let me itemize them for you (this is why I am President – I am organized too):

  • no long lines of strangers hanging about your blog hoping to cash in on your fame
  • no feelings of inadequacy if you don’t get Freshly Pressed again
  • no depression when your site stats slip back to normal
  • no need to live up to your past fame

Of course, the NBFP Club will be more than just a virtual reality. I’ve found us a clubhouse.

street scene

I know it doesn’t look all that good right now…

street buildings

But my contractors assure me that with just a few renovations, this is what our place could look like. I think the restaurant and patio will be wonderful!

Since the inauguration of our club, we’ve rounded up a few bloggers who are eager to serve on our Board. The good thing about our Club is that anyone can be on the Board simply by volunteering to fill a position that they invent. How cool is that!

UPDATE:  It is with extreme sadness that I announce I was Freshly Pressed on July 9, 2013. I therefore announce my resignation as President, though I will still retain my title of Founder and First President.

Our New President is Al at the cvillean . Previous to this, Al was our very capable Treasurer. If you would like to join the NBFP Club, head over to his blog.

Farewell all and Happy Blogging!

Facebook Thinks Your Life is Boring

You see this tuna? This tuna is boring. Stop having a boring tuna, stop having a boring life.
Offer “Vince” Shlomi (Commercial for Slap Chop)

Have you ever watched the Sham Wow, Slap Chop or Schticky commercials on TV? I always crack up when Vince, the consummate salesman, says “You’re gonna love my nuts” – as he is using the Slap Chop to dice up the items that will make your food preparation (and your life) more exciting.

Vince makes the prospect of ‘being fleeced’ fun. He knows he is an old time snake oil salesman, and he doesn’t try to hide it.

Less fun – okay downright annoying – is the advertising on Facebook. Facebook used to be just a social network – the place where I tell all my friends  how The Car Guy is recovering from his Motorcycle Accident and my friends say they are glad to hear the news. Or the son-in-law posts a photo of us on New Years Eve, and we respond by saying “Surely our cheeks and noses weren’t that red!”

AdvertisementsFacebook’s prime purpose isn’t social networking any more. It has morphed into a sophisticated and annoying vehicle for selling product. Advertising is displayed on my Home Page in a column down the right side. Today it is for Plus Size Separates, Party Photography, Criminal Pardons, Rachael Ray’s Hollywood Diet and an Investment that looks like a pyramid scheme.

That is fairly easy to ignore, but advertisements are also sprinkled in with all the posts from my friends. They are called ‘Suggested Pages’.  Should I be offended that one of these pages was an advertisement for Botox? Well yes! I can’t imagine a more offensive product (to me, anyhow) than botox.

Trending articlesThat isn’t all, though. Facebook also inserts ‘Trending Articles‘ to spice up my obviously boring life.  Most of my Facebook friends have decided that the day to day stories about their lives are really not worth sharing either, so they have pretty much quite posting anything personal.  The bulk of my Home Page contains links to things they read, causes they support, videos they’ve watched, businesses they like, places they shop, games they play, posts they ‘Liked’ (mostly from people I don’t know) etc, etc, etc.

It is all pretty slick – Facebook is now a personalized digital newspaper, complete with advertisements, and the content is supplied by my friends and family! Each link they post, each item they ‘like’, each item I ‘like’ – all of it becomes part of a huge user database that helps Facebook target them, and me, with more content and advertising.

Facebook is not your friend, it is a surveillance engine.
– Richard Stallman –

I don’t take kindly to being targeted, so every now and then I go to my Facebook  Timeline and Activity Log and delete everything I find. If I’m going to use Facebook, I’m going to be as anonymous as I can. I’d shut it down completely if it wasn’t the sole way some of my friends and family communicate with me and if I wasn’t using it to advertise my own blog posts! Two can play the advertising game…

The QuipperyPS – If you are a Facebook User, go to your Privacy Settings and set them all to Friends – not Friends of Friends and not Public. Why? Well, lets say you have 50 trusted friends, and let’s say your 50 friends each have 50 friends – who you may or may not trust. If you use the Friends setting, the things you say on Facebook go out to only 50 people. If you use the Friends of Friends setting, those words or photos clutter up the home page of 2450 Facebook Users who may use that content in ways you hadn’t intended.

Update 2016 – Is Facebook a good place to discuss your political beliefs? The 2015 Canadian Federal Election, and the 2016 American Presidential Election were hot topics with my friends!  I didn’t enjoy the never ending barrage of links to sometimes blatant media bias, but it was fascinating to see what people were willing to believe.

Press Release from The Never Been Freshly Pressed Club

I was just putting the finishing touches on a post about all my blogging friends who have never been ‘Freshly Pressed‘. I was thinking it would be appropriate to form a group of ‘Never Been Freshly Pressed’ (NBFP) bloggers, perhaps design our own badge to put in a widget on our sidebar – celebrate our status as the underdogs.

I think everyone roots for the underdog.
– Johnny Knoxville

I was going to link to some of my fellow underdogs and the first on my list was Steve at The Brown Road Chronicles. He recently wrote about how he has skirted around accusations that he has used the banned substance called ‘Freshlypresstosterone’ in an attempt to achieve Freshly Pressed fame. I guess the drug finally worked –  yesterday Steve was Freshly Pressed.

Toonaday bandaid
Steve with A Broken Heart because he was Freshly Pressed

Congratulations Steve – but as self proclaimed President of the NBFP, I’m going to have to kick you out of our club. It breaks my heart to have to do it, but rules are rules. (Note to the Club Secretary – please get those rules written. Note to Membership – please nominate a secretary.)

I’m sorry Steve, but you will have to remove your belongings from the Club locker room. I’m going to have to suspend your bar and dining privileges too. (Note to Club House Manager – do we have a location for the Club yet? Note to Membership – hire a Club Manager.)

On the bright side, that means someone gets Steve’s parking stall.

Life goes on. Let me introduce you to some of the remaining members of our Club:

  • Al at thecvillean.  Al is blunt in describing his feelings about the WordPress FP editors: “When the intellectual powers that be at WordPress FP gather together to beatify a subscriber, please just put away the dartboard and actually read one of my posts.”
  • The self described ‘disjointed and somewhat snide’ blogger at Pouring My Art Out is pragmatic: “I have as much chance of being ‘freshly pressed’ as Dick Cheney has of being voted People Magazine’s ‘sexiest man alive’”.
  • Christine at The Good Stuff writes, “I just started my 2012 day timer with that freshly pressed paper smell” – In our club, Freshly pressed means different things to different people.
  • L8n at Back Road Scholar. L8n is well connected. If anyone can find us a club house, L8n can.
  • Me. I wrote about the probability of being Freshly Pressed in a post called So You’ve Never Been Freshly Pressed. I compared it to a lottery, but it isn’t. It is a competition with no fixed rules where there are winners and losers and no one really understands the how or why of any of it. As one Freshly Pressed Blogger said about being selected, “here was a post that was far from my favourite in terms of creativity and flow. It didn’t even contain any of my own pictures!”

Contrast that to all the benefits of the NBFP Club –  no long lines of strangers hanging about your blog hoping to cash in on your fame; no feelings of inadequacy if you don’t get Freshly Pressed again; and no depression when your site stats slip back to normal.

If you are an overlooked, under appreciated blogger and  you would like to join our club, head over to the home of our new President, Al, at the civillean so that your name can be added to our roster. You will have to take an Oath of Allegiance… once we get one written.

3rd Anniversary of Blogging – My First Ever ‘WordPress In Review’ Report

I’ve been blogging for three years and managed to stay under the radar as far as WordPress.com was concerned. Then, for some unknown reason, my stealth radar shield was deactivated. The WordPress stats helper monkeys swooped in, sucked up all my blog’s pertinent data, and compiled an annual report.

I won’t burden you with the full report, but here is the stats monkeys cleverly worded comparison:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 31,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 7 Film Festivals

I’ve never been to Cannes, but I’ve bought a few DVD’s from Costco. Comparing my blog views to the DVD sales stats for Costco wouldn’t have made me feel very successful though.

That pretty much wraps up this year. I expect my radar shields will reactivate shortly and my blog will return to stealth mode. Happy New Year!

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.
– Bill Vaughn –

May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.
– Joey Adams –

Responsive to Change – My Cat and WordPress Themes

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.
– Charles Darwin –

This is Mooch. He is a very large cat (see story The Cat Compendium) that may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but he certainly was extremely responsive to change. It took him about a nanosecond to accept that he no longer lived at our house and had been adopted by the people next door.

But Mooch isn’t what this story is really about. This is about my blog, and your blog, and how everyone reads our blogs. Surveys suggest that nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds.

But there is more: people no longer just use their desk top or laptop computers to read our blogs. More and more people are using their phones or digital tablets to view our ever so entertaining stories. And did you know that a blog that looks just fine on a computer screen can be much more difficult to read on a tiny phone screen if the theme of the blog hasn’t been taught to be Responsive or doesn’t have the Mobile Option clicked (Go to My Site(s) → WP Admin → Appearance → Mobile in your dashboard. Click on the Yes radio button to enable a mobile-friendly theme, and click on the Update button.)

Which WordPress.com themes are fully Responsive? Hop over to this page: Responsive Themes to find one that appeals to you. For now, I’m using a Mobile friendly theme that isn’t responsive, but I frequently change themes. Like Mooch, I enjoy the change of moving to a new abode – with the simple click of my mouse!

How to Insert Bold Quotation Marks

There are three ways, at least, for adding quotation marks to a Blockquote. The first is the easiest – you just type them where you want them to go.

The second and third ways are achieved by writing CSS rules for Styling a Blockquote. If you have a WordPress.com theme, you will have to purchase the CSS upgrade before you can make these changes permanent. This option gives you many style upgrades, even if you never touch the CSS Stylesheet Editor.

You write the CSS in the Stylesheet Editor. Go to your Dashboard and click on Appearance – Customize – CSS.

Technique 1: Using the before selector to automatically add quotation marks to a blockquote.

Blockquote

The theme used a before selector that contained content: ‘201C’;
I added the CSS  (in italics below) to do three things:
I added the border with the blockquote { selector.
I moved the blockquote right and changed the background color with the .site-content .entry-content blockquote { selector.
I moved the existing blockquotes built into the theme to the left with the  .site-content .entry-content blockquote::before { selector.

blockquote {
border: .1px #a8a8a8;
border-style: solid;
border-radius: 10px;
}

.site-content .entry-content blockquote {
margin-left: -5px;
margin-top: 2px;
margin-bottom: 7px;
padding: 15px 20px .25px 30px;
background: #ffffff;
display: flex;
}

.site-content .entry-content blockquote::before {
margin-left: -35px;
margin-top: -10px;
}

Your theme may use different selectors, and you will have to figure out which ones to use.

Technique 2: If you want to use blockquotes you designed yourself, here is one way to do it:

Download, or create your quotation marks in the size you want them to appear on your page, then upload them to your WordPress Media Library. Note what the URL is for that image.

The quotation marks I’ve used here is a small .gif image that is 15X15 pixels in size. I could have made it larger, or a darker colour if I wanted bolder quotation marks.

Then write the CSS (in italics below) in the Stylesheet Editor. The blockquote { selector may not be the selector used by your theme – so you may have to test other selectors until you find the one that works.

blockquote {
background-image: url(‘insert your quotation mark URL here’);
background-position:top left;
background-repeat:no-repeat;
padding:.7em 2.2em .2em 2em;
color:#121212;
}

Insert your image URL where it says insert your quotation mark URL here. Your image URL must be inside one set of single quotation marks.
The setting for padding will determine where the image sits on your page, so you will have to tweak that.
The setting for color will determine the color of the font, so you will have to tweak that too.

There, that is it. Or it might not be it, in which case you should contact the WordPress Happiness Engineers or the WordPress Forum and ask for help!

I’m Blue – WordPress Sometimes Sucks the Joy Out of Blogging

Actually, the Photo Challenge this week was simply the word Blue, but I’m feeling Blue so that is what today’s post will be about.

It has been one of those weeks. Nothing bad happened, but a series of little things coincided with a shift in the ‘feel fine’ chemical brew that keeps me on an even keel. The result is, and always has been, several days of living with a black cloud hanging right over my head.

Not an awesomely beautiful black cloud like the ones I sometimes see in the blue morning sky over the hay field. No, a dismal, dull black cloud that wants to suck the life out of everything.  (If you are into Harry Potter, think dementors, only not quite as evil as that.) But bad enough that a small feast of chocolate does nothing to lift me out of morose. (And it didn’t help my mood at all to watch the season finale of NCIS last night, either. It looks like Ducky has met his demise. Trust television to make you think they are going to kill off a senior.)

I had hoped this morning would see the clouds lift, and it might have if I had not logged into WordPress.com to write this post.  I shouldn’t have read their latest weblog called ‘Stay in the Conversation’  because it didn’t brighten things up at all. In their infinite wisdom, the WordPress team has decided that by default, everyone who comments on a WordPress blog post will now be subscribed to all the comments for that post. That means you get an email in your inbox every time someone else comments on that post. If you do not want a full inbox, and you have a WordPress account, you can turn this feature off, (go to your WordPress Reader and click ‘Manage Email Delivery Settings. Or you can manage it on a post by post basis by unchecking the appropriate box under the comment you make). If you do not have a WordPress account, and you want to turn this feature off, they suggest you open a WordPress account. (I could remove the requirement that you must leave your name and email address when you leave a comment on my blog. If WordPress doesn’t have your email address, then they can’t send you comments you don’t want. But for now, I will remove the option to subscribe to comments at all.)

(PS:  The very next day, WordPress withdrew this feature with the following announcement:

Update (May 17): Since this feature went live we’ve had a bunch of feedback and it looks like following comments by default is not a good fit for a lot of bloggers (and their readers) after all. We looked at a few different options, but for now we’ve just changed things back to how they were before. To follow a conversation, make sure you check the box when you post a comment.)

I hate this ‘Opt Out’ mentality. If you want out, push this button. Well, I do want out, and it is for that reason I’m going to take a blogging break. I’ll still post, but less frequently. I’ll read others blogs, but not as often. I need to step away from the WordPress rat race for a while. I’m letting it suck the joy out of blogging.

Slow But Steady Blogging Progress

Direction is more important than speed. We are so busy looking at our speedometers that we forget the milestone.
– Author Unknown –

The Quippery

My presence in the blogging world has gone from complete obscurity to relative anonymity – in 29 months! But, I have finally reached the Milestone of  325 Posts, and for that I think I’ll award myself the Slow but Steady Award. You see, I may blog at Turtle speed, but at least I’m still in the race.  Apparently a significant number of blogs are abandoned within a month or two of being started, which gives them the lifespan of a fruit fly.

I didn’t reach this milestone alone. Many of you have been with me for all or part of the way. I’d like to express my gratitude to you for hanging in there! Amazingly, you come from all over the world. WordPress.com installed a nice World Map on our Stats page, and now I can see where you all live. (Not that I can see your house or anything, but I can see what country you come from.) Many of you are from the United States (red on the map), but Canadian visitors are right up there in numbers. Go Canada! Third spot goes to the United Kingdom, then Australia, Germany, India and the Philippines. After that, there are 48 other countries listed!  I know people in  Qatar, Egypt and Luxembourg, so I expect they are the readers who stop by to visit. But Israel, Nepal, Turkey and Slovenia – I had no idea I had readers from there.

World Map of Reader Stats

Next I’d like to thank all of you WordPress blog owners who take time to click the ‘Like’ button. I appreciate your vote of confidence. I am a big fan of the Like button, and I wish WordPress listed your visits on the Stats Page. I use the Like button often – it tells you that I read your post, and I really can’t add anything that hasn’t already been said by you and the 25 to 100 others who commented already! (I think the ‘Like’ button is a Word Conservation Tool.)

I’d also like to thank all the people who leave Comments. Mags, Lorna, Mark, Amanda, Composer, Steve, Susan, Sylvia, Peg, E.C., WSB, Barb  and so many others stop by regularly to brighten my day. I’ve listed you all on my Links Page!

I’d also like to thank all of you who nominated me for Awards. I’ve rounded you all up and put you on my Awards Page, along with brief bios that I borrowed from you. If I have made any mistakes, let me know!

Last,  but certainly not least, I’d like to thank The Car Guy. After 42 years of being married (to me), he says he is always surprised by what shows up on my blog.  And that makes two of us.

Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.
– Susan B. Anthony –