Some of Me Has Moved

After much thought about whether to change my blog URL, or move, I decided to split this blog into two blogs. This one is called Amusives. The other is called Counter Current.

The old blog now has the Amusives URL. It was easy to do. WordPress changes the address on all the posts and pages; and updates all the media addresses. All my stats remain.

Unfortunately, all the comments I’ve ever made on other WordPress blogs don’t get updated completely. The URL that people click would be the old site address, which would be broken. My gravatar profile (photo and the links I have entered) is always updated  with the information I entered in my profile.

Another downside is that every site that has created a link to the old blog address has become a broken link. Also, my google ranking for some things will tank for some period of time. (I have a handful of posts that have been popular for years thanks to how they rank with google!)

Before I embarked on this ‘you can’t go back’ change, I wanted to find out how readers find my new posts:

1. Are you an email subscriber?
2. Do you follow on the WordPress Reader (you clicked the ‘Follow’ link)?
3. Do you use a feed reader such as Feedly?
4. Do you follow links on my Facebook page?
5. Do you follow links on Twitter?
6. Do you visit me after I have left a comment on your blog?
7. Do you stop by now and then just to see what is new?

So, why the change? I can’t really explain the logic as to why I had to do this, but I did.

woman lift moveMaybe it was because I have been blogging for Ten Years and needed a change.

Maybe it is because my computer is still at the repair shop and I have spent over two weeks working with a computer toolbox where all the ‘screwdrivers’ are now ‘pliers’ and there isn’t a ‘hammer’ to be had.

Maybe it is because it is cold and rainy and my fingers shouldn’t get numb trying to pick raspberries in August.

Maybe, maybe, maybe…

WordPress Reader is Acting Strangely

Do you follow my blog in the WordPress Reader? If you do, then you might be wondering why I am reposting old stuff. The short answer is, I’m not. The WordPress Reader is doing it for me – a totally unsolicitated behaviour.

The Reader is also not advertising most of my new posts. Catch 22 – right! If I try to tell WordPress Readers about this issue in a new post, will the Reader publish the new post?

Or will the Reader pick another old post like this one – How to Replace iTunes with CopyTrans Manager, which was first published in 2009. It appeared in the WordPress Reader a day ago.

This has been going on for a few months now, but I wasn’t paying attention (Christmas, New Years, travel to AZ, etc). Then I contacted a few of my regular readers. Thanks go to to Al and Faye for confirming my suspicions that the WordPress Reader had developed a mind of its own! I alerted the WordPress Happiness Engineers who say that the ‘Reader team’ has being contacted and the issue is being ‘escalated’ with them.

Even more puzzling, some of my readers are being sent to links that are a revision of one of my old posts. Since only I can see revisions, WordPress simply tells people

I’ve alerted the WordPress Happiness Engineers about that too. Perhaps they have some bugs to work out in their world of big data. Or maybe, somehow, I’ve broken my blog…

9th Blogging Anniversary – What Were You Doing 3287 Days Ago?

Nine years ago (the aforementioned 3287 days) I published my first blog post: Did you Get the H1N1 Flu Shot in 2009. It was not highly successful and has been viewed a grand total of 13 times. At the other end of the scale,  Tricky Questions – Thinking Outside the Box has been quite popular with over 36,000 views. Go figure…

That’s the interesting thing about blogging. While I might have a general idea what my readers might find interesting or when it is a good time to catch them in a reading mood, I  have no idea how the Search Engines will promote or trash my posts! I do know this involves algorithms that judge, filter, penalize and reward content, but that is about the extent of my understanding!

While the stats for the Tricky Questions post are fascinating to watch,  I like the H1N1 post as much and I love the process of researching and writing.  I’m happy with my blog as a whole –  a scrapbook of my photos, thoughts and ideas – my Codex Vitae.

I think the pleasure of completed work is what makes blogging so popular. You have to believe most bloggers have few if any actual readers. The writers are in it for other reasons. Blogging is like work, but without coworkers thwarting you at every turn. All you get is the pleasure of a completed task.
– Scott Adams –

I’ve mapped out a plan for the next year of blogging at Fueled by Chocolate (because 9 years of blogging won’t be as newsworthy as 10 years of blogging!) I’m bringing over all my quotation posts from The Quippery and will roll them out, two every week, for the next six months. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed collecting them.

Old words are reborn with new faces.
– Criss Jami, Killosophy –

My Birds and Bugs will keep being updated.

When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all.
– E. O. Wilson –

I’ll also be taking a Conservative exploration of topics that include politics, the environment, media bias, free speech – but also the exciting possibility of a return to civil discourse!

The reason that free speech is so important… It keeps the balance between those two tendencies. You need the questioning, and you need the order. You think, “how much of each?” The answer is, “the recipe changes day to day.” And so you think, “well, if it changes day to day, how are we going to keep up?” The answer is, “by keeping up! Here we are. We’re alive. We can keep up, but we do that by thinking, and we think by talking, and we think and talk by disagreeing. And we better disagree conceptually, because then we don’t have to act out stupid ideas that would kill us.”
– Jordan Peterson, Oxford Union Address –

What were you doing 3287 days ago? What was the most popular post you have ever written? Which of your posts is your favourite?

Your Blog – What Do Your Visitors See?

I give my blog a make-over now and then. (WordPress.com has so many themes to try). When I test drive a new one, I ask a few friends to let me know what their browser thinks of the change. Does my blog load fairly fast on their computer, phone or other device? Can they read the blog easily? Does anything seem to be ‘broken’?

Why does speed matter?

My frog connection – photo dimensions are 302px by 219 px. The size is 23.9 KB

We might live in a fast paced world, but our internet connections vary from rabbit to turtle. I sometimes have a frog connection – fast leaps alternating with “really, you’ve stopped completely!?” pauses. A fast website loads completely in my browser while my frog is leaping. I can read the site while my frog has stopped to admire the scenery. A slow website doesn’t load completely during the leaps. I often get tired of waiting and abandon the site.

Apparently search engines also use load speed as one of the factors in search ranking. You can test the speed of your site with a free tool called Pingdom Website Speed Test. The test will tell you how fast your site is. If you scroll down their page, you will be able to see exactly what is slowing your site down.

If you click the Home button on my menu above, you can check my new landing page. According to Pingdom my Performance Grade is 90 and it loads faster than 83% of sites tested from New York City.

How does your Home Page compare?

One way to speed up your site – reduce the size of your images

Your theme choice dictates the size your images will display. Resize your images to match your theme – your images will then be the best the theme can offer AND the fastest to deliver to your readers.

The original of this frog photo was 2756 px by 1991 px with a size of 2.82 MB. The content width for this theme (default post) is, however, only 640 px.  (I’ve been using a maximum image size of 700 px for quite a few years).

This frog photo is 702 px by 508 px. It is 72.5 KB in size.
This frog photo is 902 px by 652 px. It is 107 KB in size.

As you can see, the frog photo on the bottom is of no better quality than the photo above it, but it takes up more space in your WordPress account. If I had uploaded the full size photo, it would have taken a lot longer to load, and would not have looked appreciably better than the smaller size photos.

Is your font choice working for or against you?

Speaking of size, is your font large enough to be read easily? What about colour? Dark text on a light background is easy to read. Light text on a dark background is harder to read. Check your site on a computer, a tablet and a phone. How readable is it?

If you a Frog Lover

The frog in the photo is a Northern Leopard Frog. They are no longer common in Alberta, though we often used to see them at the cabin.

Utah – Balance Rock: WordPress.com Upsets the Balance

As of the end of this month (and 2,000 Daily Prompts, 380 Photo Challenges, 260 Community Pools, and 100 First Fridays later), we will no longer publish new posts, prompts, or challenges on this site.
– Ben Huberman, WordPress.com The Daily Post –

As you can see from the announcement above, WordPress Prompts and Photo Challenges will soon be a thing of the past. It isn’t the first time that WordPress has suddenly discontinued a feature that many bloggers faithfully use and enjoy.

I’ve been submitting photos to the Photo Challenges for almost 8 years. Polite words can’t express my disappointment that they have decided to terminate access to our community of photographers.

As a replacement, WordPress suggests that bloggers try this: post a photo (any topic you feel like) and tag it with ‘photo challenge’. Then, open your WordPress Reader and type ‘photo challenge’ in the search bar…  Really – you think that makes it a challenge? Nope –  it’s just a bunch of posts with photos.

WordPress, you remind me of this rock (Balance Rock) in Arches National Park in Utah. The disconnect between your head and our body is quite obvious. It isn’t good for the balance of either of us…

As for Photo Challenges, I’m using that tag on this photo. If this was a real photo challenge, what would you suggest as a theme?

8th Anniversary of Blogging, Laundry and Hair Cuts

It is my 8th Anniversary of Blogging. Is that long enough to say blogging isn’t a temporary pastime for me? My blog posts, on the other hand, are only of temporary interest to the blogging world!

Other temporary things in my life:

  • laundry – if I ever get ‘caught up’, it will only be for a few hours…
  • hair cut – if it is perfect, it won’t be for long; same with fingernail length
  • cuts, scrapes, bruises, a cold
  • weather, seasons
  • batteries
  • ripe fruit, ice cubes in a drink, gum flavour
  • shiny copper or silver, empty dishwasher
  • new car smell, full tank of gas
  • fresh-cut grass, perfect flowers
  • family vacations, Christmas Spirit
  • bubbles

  • Fall leaves and the berries from the Mountain Ash Tree

  • Snowflakes

What things would you put on your list of temporary things?

Eight Years of Blogging

This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Temporary.

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!

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.