Awstats Not the Most Useful Thing

I’ve grumbled about this before, including in the recent post about a hit for Tracy Hyde pics that, when I search it, brings up no actual result pointing here. Now I also see one for Tracy Hyde photo, same deal. Most of the “search phrases” reported by Awstats are things like attacku3k, pressdjv, changing1gx, holdk6w, etc. Completely strange and bogus. Then again, the referrers are almost completely fake, too: Referrer spam, in hopes you might click them when you look at your stats, or something. Some of them are topical, at least, like one that points to something on how to be assertive.

Why purport to show search strings in the stats when obviously you can’t or won’t? So far this month, through about 90 minutes ago, I have about 437 hits from Google. The rest are trivial. By comparison to supposed hits from other sources like “direct address,” “bookmark,” or “link in e-mail,” search hits are trivial. However, that is based on “pages,” which is a number inflated by spammers or other malicious sources hitting things on the site that might not even be visible to people. It’s what happens when you get a relative monoculture of one convenient CMS such as WordPress. Or even an oligarchical culture of a few such things, rather than a wild west of people writing their own HTML. Then again, the nature of the web is relatively transparent regardless. Back in the day, PCs using a Microsoft OS got viruses or malware, and, as people would say, “Apple doesn’t get viruses.” Aim at the big target.

So really those Google hits are probably actual people less a portion of malicious sources arriving via search, and are some fair portion of the 2317 “unique visitors” so far this month. Yet the stats can’t see what the search strings were and report them? I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some obfuscation from Google going on, since they are in the business of reporting their own results if you sign your site up with them. Google Analytics, in my experience, is a bit like hitting a gnat with a sledgehammer. Also I haven’t seen actual search strings there, on sites where I have used it, though it’s possible they must be if you look hard enough through the mess that is the interface.

The most useful thing I can discern currently is that an overwhelming amount of my traffic is now from Great Britain, with the next two being a race back and forth between Japan and United States. That’s how it settled out since blocking enough malicious IP addresses to reduce the numbers from the usual suspect countries. What do I post about a lot? Melody, the 1971 movie. Where was it filmed and where did it eventually if not instantly become popular? Great Britain. The actors tend to be from England or elsewhere in the UK. Some of them are actually part of the movie’s fandom. Where was it a runaway hit? Japan. However they’re finding it, that’s gotta be the source of a lot of traffic.

For some reason, this post is particularly popular as a landing page, and has been almost since I posted it, but after that is the category for Melody. Above both of those are the main page, naturally, and the feed. How are that many people reading via RSS? This is not my blogging heyday. Heck, in my blogging heyday, I’d have considered these great stats. I’ve had individual posts avalanched with tens of thousands of hits in years past, but not in a long time. Anyway, after that some of the results include popular ancient posts on an archived site at this domain that was created in Expression Engine and never ported to WordPress. Brave souls, going there when the pages consist of long lists of PHP errors before and after the actual post. The version of PHP on the server outstripped the version supported by EE.

So I can discern a few things mainly by looking at the stats. Melody posts generate some interest. So do some of the music posts. Google sends me a lot of mystery traffic from searches. For all I know, a lot of that goes to the archived site. A weird number of people use the feed. Most of the traffic is nefarious. All I get for comments are spam ones, which I believe these days are generally automated. The mix of pages people visit via HTTPS is substantially different, with the residual politics category and history category being far above Melody, but the total coming that way is dwarfed by plain HTTP.

It’d be fun to see a better report of the search results, but oh well.

Tracy Hyde Pics

I was amused to see that a search for “tracy hyde pics” registered in my stats, which normally don’t show traffic that resulted from searches. At least, not legitimate ones. I’m impressed, since when I searched that on Google, this site didn’t come up in any of the 12 screens of results. It did get kind of interesting though, with things purporting to have Tracy Hyde nude, topless or whatnot. Many years ago I used to have fun with Google by creating posts with bunches of names of current celebrity young women and the words nude, naked, etc. This would generate a bunch of traffic, and probably a bit of disappointment or chagrin. Erica Durance was the favorite for searches at the time, though I was partial to Allison Mack. That turned out a bit unexpected, celebrity-wise.

Anyway, I haven’t actually posted any Tracy Hyde or Melody-related pictures. There are tons of them out there, and I have downloaded a few. I created one from a screenshot as an aid in learning the name of the actress who played the unnamed character played by Karen Williams. A more obscure one I found is a collage of modeling images of Tracy Hyde when she was even younger. You can totally see the star quality that made them want her for the film. You can also see the ways in which modeling is a form of acting.

So I’m sorry to say that there are no Tracy Hyde or other Melody pics here. Maybe someday. I don’t like to upload pics via WordPress, so when I have done pictures in the past, I have sized them as needed, uploaded them with FTP, then embedded them in posts, sometimes with the embedded picture linking to a larger copy. I’d probably do this with textual context, like illustrating something I am discussing. Or discussing the illustration, as the case may be.

I don’t watch much TV these days. Not that I ever did. So I’m not sure what names I’d even use in a tease post with nude, naked, etc. Maisie Williams, perhaps? Bella Ramsey is a bit on the young side. Halston Sage? Eh, whatever. That was kind of a past amusement. Now, who cares?

Favorite By Artist

I just remembered on my way to work in the wee hours an idea I’d had a while back, when I wasn’t actually blogging anywhere. That is to identify and post my favorite song by a series of artists. Some this would be difficult, if not impossible. Others are, for me, a no brainer. There are some whose music I like reasonably well but have One Song that stands far above the rest. It might not work for Bee Gees or Carpenters music, but Huey Lewis? Sure. Chicago. Journey. Easy! One hit wonders would be cheating, of course. But I can actually name a hands down favorite Boston song, and I love a bunch of their stuff. The trick might be thinking of all the possible artists as the days go by. I could even pre-compose a series of these and have them scheduled to publish each day, so I don’t have to try to remember, and can even surprise myself a little as I see them appear.

What to Say?

I’m at a loss for what to post without it being too much. Since I want to go to bed ASAP, earlier than normal so I’m not sleepy all day tomorrow, there’s not much time.

I’ve been meaning to write about, probably in a series of posts as notable examples come to mind, songs I can’t resist singing. I still have songs I associate with people I can post about. There’s always random songs that I happen to think of sharing.

I may actually have died down on things I have to say about Melody. Mark the calendar!  One of those conversations you have in your head, with one of the “girls group” actors (the one who identified the one I was curious about), had me thinking about posting about blog fame and how I met my wife, but I may already have covered that sufficiently.

Bushcraft topics are something I have not gotten into, and that’s likely to center around whenever the next season of Alone airs. However, it also touches on my childhood and growing up in the woods, and not being in the right place at the right time. It also touches on my potential fiction. Thinking about that recently made me think of the bed wetting problem I had when I was young. (Actually addressed, I noticed in one of the clips, in Moonrise Kingdom. Sam lets Suzy know he might wet the bed, when they are going to sleep in the tent together when they have run away. To “the seaside,” no less! She’s like “okay,” and it’s no big deal.)

I was thinking that even if I’d thought to grab the pup tent and some stuff and camp out in our woods, or go camp out in a shelter of natural materials, I would have to have worried about that possibility. The funny thing is, it was probably not nearly as frequent as the shadow it cast over my life makes me think of it as being. It stopped absolutely as soon as I hit puberty sufficiently at 11 years old. I was still paranoid enough that I wouldn’t go on the class campout in 6th grade, after I had turned 12. I always wondered if it was a similar story with the girl who was the only other one in my class who didn’t stay for the night.

There were no pullups then. One of my kids had a worse problem than I ever did. All I had to do was spend enough money on those and hope they didn’t leak very often. My father ranted and threatened me. My mother took me to the doctor when they had no clue what might cause it, but he used the idea of cutting the opening wider as a scare tactic (I promptly figured that out even then). With my kid, I learned it can be a problem caused by constipation. It was more a matter of worsened by, in that case, but it’s entirely possible that could have been a factor with me.

My mother boggled me by not having a particularly strong memory of bed wetting having been a thing. For me it dominated my childhood. My first friend in my childhood was born nine months after me and was the daughter of the best friends of my

[At this point I was interrupted and then went to bed after saving this as a draft. This is how it goes.]

As I was saying, first friend, daughter of best friends of my respective parents. Her mother and my mother met at nursing school, which my mother didn’t complete because it turned out she couldn’t bear the sight of blood. We could come home as wet and muddy as we wanted, but please no blood. Which means she must have really hated my tendency to have bloody noses. Shared by the same kid who shared my bed wetting problem. My mother’s reaction to my random, profuse bloody noses was that it meant I had high blood pressure and was going to die. While I did end up with hypertension later, that’s kind of an odd thing to say to your kid even if it had validity.

I had a nickname that was based entirely on the bed wetting thing. I absolutely loathed it and frankly would try to avoid anyone who knew or used the nickname. If I’d been a different sort, there might have been some violence inflicted. They always told me I didn’t know my own strength, after all. I actually learned to be gentle lest I hurt someone accidentally. It infuriated me when that friend, on Facebook decades after I’d last seen her, relayed that her mother said “hi nickname!” Where “nickname” is the one in question. It kept me from friending her mother on Facebook. Though I did go, a few years later, to a big surprise 80th birthday party for her mother. I just looked to see if I’d given the friend a pseudonym. Yes. Julie. So a couple years ago I went to the 80th birthday party for Julie’s mother. I walked in and both Julie and her sister let out a dropped-jaw “wow!” Apparently they were impressed with how I look in my old age. Of course, all the stuff about my being unattractive isn’t how I looked. It’s how I perceived myself, helped by a number of people along the way.

Anyway, my reaction to the nickname reflects just how strongly I felt, and feel, about the whole thing. My experience made it easier to deal gently with my own kid, but it’s a whole new world in that regard anyway.

So I found myself thinking about the idea of going out and camping in my woods when I was, say, 8 or 9, and realized it would have been weird given that problem. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d found that under those circumstances it simply never happened. Because of it and not having many friends who would have been candidates for that anyway, there weren’t sleepovers with friends until I was past that. My last bestie before Zack was a girl, a year older than me, and while I could swear I have a memory of sleeping over there, it is probably based on a memory of being there at breakfast time. I wouldn’t have risked it. I slept over my grandparent’s house and don’t remember wetting the bed there. I probably did more of that closer to the point where it stopped, at which point it had waned for a long time, than I did younger. Maybe there were environmental factors to that, too. I got sick when we moved into the house where I grew up, for environmental reasons. Whatever. I also don’t remember it happening when we went camping. If it were a rare thing, I might connect it to the nerve damage I suffered as an infant. That made me seem retarded while actual being highly intelligent, but probably wasn’t behind the loss of nocturnal control. Then again, puberty was when I shed the bulk of the physical effects of the damage, though it took into my twenties for that to be complete for all practical purposes. To this day I take unnatural delight in being able to speak glibly and do physical things most people would take for granted. The thing is, the kid with the problem had no such thing. Nor the environmental factor, at least not to the same degree.

I didn’t intend this to be the bed wetting post. Yet there it is.

I suspect it didn’t happen all that often, or it would have been even worse. It’s just that it was like the end of the world every time it did. It would be an interesting personalized alternate history: What if there had never been bed wetting?

Spam

I love getting a pile of spam comments every day. No real ones! Just spam. Not getting real ones might be a matter of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it” or “silence is golden” and might be just as well, but hey. I get an awful lot of traffic for it to be nothing but spam.

Speaking of those old sayings, my late friend Frank, in 8th grade before I ever met him, had to give a speech in speech class. I didn’t have that class because I was in French instead. He got up, said “silence is golden.” That was it. When prompted, he added “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.” The class loved it, of course, and I forget whether the teacher gave him an A or a B, but it was a decent grade that rewarded his cleverness.

AWstats

To get an idea of traffic here, I normally look at AWStats through the Cpanel utility on the web hosting. It drives me crazy, though, because it can be so hard to tell what’s actually going on. In theory, it gives you search strings that were used to get here. In reality, it doesn’t return enough of those to correspond to the traffic it claims comes from Google alone. In turn, the referrals from Google and other such things aren’t remotely enough to account for total traffic. At least it’s generally possible to get an idea of what the real traffic is, versus the traffic hitting from nefarious sources for reasons having nothing to do with reading my keen and witty insights.

One thing that surprises me is the amount of traffic that seems associated with feed readers. In the heyday of blogs, that would be a given. On a blog that went many years being mostly neglected, and that had much of its contents stripped in a change of CMS, and most of the rest stripped in a change of direction, that lost much of its readership all the way back in 2004… I think it was 2004… When the wife was hot to switch to a clever new domain and name after less than a year here. I’m just surprised that there seem to be so many, in effect, subscribers for me to bore because I won’t stop mentioning that Melody movie and such.

On the other hand, there are no comments, besides a few a day of spam comments. This could be because there’s nothing to say, but they certainly are enabled. I’d see it if any were held for moderation, which is the default if you haven’t commented before and been approved. I was a little nervous about comments, in case I say something unforgivably stupid again. On the other hand, if I lose my mind unawares, that’s a quick way for me to find out and mitigate any public displays of ignorance.

Anyway, it’s a shame Site Meter died many years ago. That was always the standard, and if not perfect, gave useful info. I don’t think I have this on Google Analytics, though I could add it if not, but I’ve never found that information particularly helpful. If nothing else, I’m not generally interested in hitting gnats with sledgehammers.

Aisling Bea

I had never heard of Aisling Bea before. Charles is right. She’s absolutely beautiful. Her standup routine embedded in his post is hysterically funny. Also, I could listen to her talk with that accent all day. The message to her late father, a suicide when she was 3, is touching and a great reminder. I wouldn’t want to be absent to see how some things turn out. It’s bad enough that history begins when we are born.

Referrers

I love looking at my stats, seeing what appear to be perfectly legitimate referrers, and finding that that do not in fact link here. This is expected when it’s a spam or commercial site that’s somehow generating referrer spam, but some of these are simply blog posts on regular blogs, even rather old posts. Weird. I gave them what they sought, presumably, by clicking back there. I usually ignore them, even when the look legitimate. I can’t imagine I have real readership yet, the way I did once Upon a Time, especially given the range of topics and scope of focus so far. But hey, search might bring some people to specific posts and they might want to link. You never know.

Comments

Not that anyone cares about most of what I’ve been posting, even if they’ve discovered it’s there, but I just fixed it so comments are available. Somewhere along the line it had gotten set to require an account on this install of WordPress. That is, I would have had to know you, create an account, give you the login info, and then you could comment. Now it just requires your first comment to be held for approval, which is the traditional setting. I’ll leave it that way unless it gets out of hand. I may have had it the way it was due to spam, especially combined with not posting here at the time.

Sixteen Years!

I managed to remember that it’s my 16th blogiversary before the day ended and I went to bed. On February 25, 2003 I made my first post on a blog I had finally setup. I’d thought about it much sooner and could have been in the class of 2002 instead. If I’d started when I first heard of those oddballs doing online diaries, which turned into blogging, it would still have been the late nineties. I never checked that out, but it would have been just my thing in retrospect.

My blogiversary preceded my wedding anniversary by just over ten months, so that was 15 years at the beginning of 2019. That was how we met. Along the way, it did occur to me that who knew, maybe I’d meet someone that way. Didn’t really expect it and it wasn’t why I started. The thought came to mind when I started meeting people online and attracted attention. It was social media before social media existed. There would be overlapping circles of bloggers who read each other’s posts and commented, as well as people who were there just to read and didn’t blog themselves.

My family didn’t know about the blog or pseudonym, as I recall, until I got married and particularly until we drove across the country, documenting it along the way. Big mistake for them ever to know. I’m still not sure I should be posting here or under this name, rather than somewhere I am unknown and building from scratch. Even more from scratch, since I posted so little for so long, scattered in so many places, in a blogosphere that all but disappeared.

For that matter, it’s funny to count it as 16 years when most of that has amounted to nothing. I stopped seriously posting by around 2009, doing it in fits and starts after that. Twitter was fun when it was new and I was big on it in 2007 and 2008, but it wasn’t blogging, and helped kill blogging for me, if not the Facebook would. Then Facebook became a place where you couldn’t say much lest it might offend someone. Both as a matter of what you posted and the length of what you posted.

I think I just blogged in the past week more than I blogged everywhere combined in the past several year. Few years, at least. There was a time I posted regular book reviews and sometimes food-related stuff. What I’ve been posting might be a weird mix and may need to break out of a rut, but it’s a start and it feels amazing.

Decisions, Decisions

Get to bed early or write another post of at least moderate length? I haven’t been getting enough sleep, but lately it seems if I allow enough time for sleep, I’ll just wake early and be unable to sleep during the last 2+ hours. Alarm goes off at 2:30 AM. That’s 8 hours from the absolute earliest I could be asleep if I hurried to bed now.

On another note, following my initial click to publish this, I think my categories need help. I see things I am not sure I’d use and feel like there are things missing. Almost as if the blog had been neglected for years…

About Time to Update Theme

If I’m going to make a habit of posting, I really should change the theme to something better than the default that existed at the time we moved AV to WordPress. I have one I customized and used across multiple topical blogs a few years back, nice and crisp. Still not sure I intend to go with incorporating this into a suite of blogs as that would imply. Heck, still not sure I shouldn’t pack up and become more anonymous. The ridiculous post that mortified me and led me to examine myself so intently was seen bay more people who know me personally than I might have suspected, though that would only have taken one stray person seeing it and letting others know. Template change would be minimal.

Ironically, I want to write. That’s part of the point, exercising the writing juice. Usually I’d trip up on trying to make things perfect and then forget I had something to say. This may all come out as too stream of consciousness, and there may be typos or awkward constructions I don’t catch as I go, but it’s writing. If I am to get back into my book, being in a writing flow will help. So I’m noting the theme needing work, but instead of leaping on it, it’s a “do I have to?” kind of thing.

Unfortunate

While I was at work or in the car I had at least one post and update in my head. Can’t begin to remember what they were, except probably at least one had to do with my Melody series, haphazard as it is, and pretty sure one had to do with the mea culpa on my old friend. Perhaps I’ll remember as the day passes. Easy enough to say something about the former, at least, even if it wasn’t the one I was mentally composing. I haven’t scratched the surface. I was thinking how obsessive it might seem. Almost as if I have traits that are autistic or OCD.

Ooh! I remember part of it! Teach Your Children, update to the previous post, which I dashed off before work.

Here We Go Again?

I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since I last posted. Well, I can. The urge to write has to be there. Taking the time has to be there. Feeling inspired has to be there. Not being skittish about posting has to be there. And I have to have made up my mind where and how and what i am blogging.

The plan referred to years a couple posts ago was that I would render this old personal blog a culture and perhaps personal oriented blog in a whole set of blogs on various topics. It has the benefit of being well established. I had thought I’d start using my real name rather than a pseudonym or pen name. After all, if nobody will hire me and I’m semi-retired as a result anyway, who cares if my political leanings offend. I’m leaning back the other way.

I’ve even considered starting completely fresh. New name. New domain. Too many people know me personally despite the pen name. This is not the post to address the grief this has caused, but this has had everything to do with the lack of blogging, going back as far as eleven years.

Part of the trouble with the suite of blogs idea was the work it would involve to do it right. Doing it right would mean the hope of making some money at it. My expectations have lowered. I just need the creative, intellectual and emotional outlet.

Should I bother to post here? I don’t know. There are things I must post here before it’s too late. One, anyway.

Beyond that, I have been bursting with inspiration. A single film I never saw when it came out in 1971, which might have been formative if I had, has given me enough to say to write several posts. If I wrote only one, it would be verbose even for me and would make no sense at all.

I have learned that I can roadblock myself with planning, preparation, and second thoughts. Granted, I need to be thoughtful enough to avoid hurting people with words I’ll forever regret, but I don’t need to spend weeks or months thinking about what domain, what topics, what blogging package and template or to hand code, only to lose my inspiration or nerve. It’s much like perfecting the resume getting in the way of job hunting, or perfecting every angle o your business idea keeping you unlaunched.

So here’s a warm up post that says not much but declares that I expect to fire away. Stay tuned… (Also, forgot to mention that I’m increasingly disturbed by the way social media in general and Facebook in particular co-opted blogging. That’s another incentive.)

Or Not

I keep seeing the previous post and thinking I need to say something about it, since no change happened, obviously. Here is what happened…

I had setup various blogs with different topics/areas of focus, on the idea I would operate – and be the only contributor to! – an entire blog group. thereby making money doing an easy form of writing. I feel comfortable with writing. However, it’s easiest to write short snippets of observation, commentary, or even information. Fiction and longer writing are hard.

Well, maybe they are not hard, but they are work. Duh. They require undisturbed focus. But then, so does short writing, and the work around maintaining the platform properly and generating an audience. It can be done, despite the heyday of blogs being over. I might be better to try a YouTube channel! I’d say I have a face for blogging, but I have seen what some of the YouTubers look like, and perhaps I’d also be self-effacing.

Shockingly, this domain still has a fair Page Rank. I had places for food, business and economics, book reviews, politics and economics/philosophy, tech (which could also cover geek interests and thus overlapped with culture), and “quick hits” – links and fast, snarky remarks shades of Twitter if it were still any good. I did not have a place for culture and personal interests. I had planned to re-purpose this place to be that part of the blogging empire. That might have included my interests in camping, bushcraft and prepping, though I’d considered another separate blog for that. On the other hand, that would make more sense if I actually got out and did that. Watching other people definitely falls under culture.

That would have filled a void and taken advantage of this domain still being somebody.

It apparently disheartened me more than I had realized, getting in trouble for things I have posted. The first time caused the big crash in my blogging and probably cost a large amount of money, as it was back when there was easier money in blogging and some was coming our way. It was a bad time generally. That was a locally newsworthy thing that had a personal connection. It might have been best left unremarked, and I do feel mildly bad in retrospect. However, I quite literally felt that my life and the lives of my family were in danger from the person who objected. I didn’t need an offer I couldn’t refuse, apart from seeing the point of it needing not to be there, so I took it right down. Google’s cache didn’t follow my footsteps promptly enough for people with modest understanding of the internet. Ugh.

The second time was more recent, and really needs a post in its own right. I’d forgotten or been unaware people actually visited here who would know what I was talking about when I didn’t name names in an utterly inane post written in a long overdue fit of pique that ultimately said more about me than about the person who’d angered me. Ironically, I am no longer even a little angry at the person who provoked the post, just sad that my actions are unforgivable, but I am annoyed at the person who pointed out how crazy I was being. Not for pointing it out. That I appreciate, and wish I’d seen sooner. I regret that I have more chance of recovering in the eyes of the person who set me off than I ever will in the eyes of the person who was angry at my anger. Anyway, I learned a lot about myself in the introspection that followed since, but the whole thing hovers over the very idea of blogging like a bleak shadow of don’t do it.

Finally, all these blogs? For money? I started because it was fun! I loved expressing myself this way. I had things to say, and enjoyed the interaction with readers and other bloggers. If I’m going to blog, that ought to be the reason. Nor should it need to be divided by topic among a vast array of blogs for marketing purposes. We’ll see. Short story long, that explains what I had meant by a change coming, and what happened to it.

I May Have Started This

Waaaaaaay back about 2003 I described Die Hard as my favorite Christmas movie. I feel like it has taken ten years for it to become something of a meme, enough for people to say that, yes, Die Hard is not a “Christmas movie.”

For the record, I meant it tongue in cheek. I had developed a tradition of rewatching Die Hard at this time of year because it’s so worth watching again, and the Christmas elements made it seem timely. The same is true of While You Were Sleeping, even if that is not a “teach it in how-to-make-a-decent-film class” the way Die Hard is.

Arguably the meme peaked for me a few weeks ago when I saw a character is Josh Roseman’s fantastic Secret Santa ebook refer to Die Hard as his favorite Christmas movie.

So while I sympathize with Sean Hackbarth in his defense of it on Facebook, I am more inclined to agree with Doug Mataconis et al.

But I reserve the right to keep calling it “my favorite Christmas movie” if only out of habit. It’s a Wonderful Film.

Late to the Party

Correct, but many years late. I was all over the “it’s a post, not a blog” topic several years ago. It drove me nuts! It still does, and seems to have increased lately, but as people told me even then, that horse has left the barn and I’m not going to stop it.

Thus it surprises me to see someone at Slate jump on it now, and be linked by Glenn.

This is a post. Or an entry. Or an article. Or even a piece. On a blog. A blog post, if you will. Or a blog entry, blog article, blog piece, this little thing I dashed off, whatever, but it is not “a blog.”

As I said years past, saying “I wrote a blog” is like saying “I wrote a magazine.” The entire thing. Funnier still when the verb used is “published.” Perhaps you could write a whole magazine, though likely that’d be a fanzine, and you’d be hard pressed not to include… articles contributed by others.

If you say “I published a blog on the mating habits of invasive African snails” I will wonder how an entire blog could be devoted to such a finite topic, and whether it wouldn’t be better simply to post on a more expansive blog about snails in general. Ditto for a “blog” about speed records set by unladen African swallows. That’s enough for a post, perhaps, but an entire blog? I know you for illiterate at blogging, and take you less seriously.

Ten Years

I managed to miss posting about my tenth blogiversary ON that date, February 25, 2013, but ironically posted my first in ages goofy quiz result, after a break of almost two months. Blogging in the early days relied heavily on such quiz posts.

So. Ten years! Of blogging. Sort of. It’s an anniversary, but it might mean more to me had I blogged more regularly. On the other hand, I was very nearly a “big name blogger” in my heyday. It’s just that my heyday was essentially the first year, and to a lesser extent the next year or two, coinciding neatly with Changes.

For a long time, I have been something of a homeless blogger, spread thin by life and the pursuit of side income from this writing. Wringing income for the family from past glory that had more to do with editing and managing than writing was all well and good, while it lasted. Who knew! Their turned out to be a way to make money from Carnival of the Capitalists after all, and if it had been active and the site I used for administering it updated regularly, we’d still have that. Or if I had even kept updating it as a general business blog, as intended. Anyway, things got rocky for Deb and I, and it was reflected in volume and location of my posts. I saw income opportunity, and that made me try to spread things around by category: food, tech, business and economics, politics, even culture. I went back to blogging solo. I went back to blogging jointly. I had and abandoned ideas. I had and didn’t launch ideas. My interests changed. Life intervened, yet not writing makes me feel empty. At this point, I see writing as my only logical career path, which is absurd, considering how hard it might be to make real money, even with self-publishing what it is. If I never make more from blogging, I really need to post, to feel right. Facebook isn’t the same, however much it contributed to making blogging a “dead medium.”

In the early days, blogging was social media.

There grew to be what I thought of as overlapping circles of bloggers. Each circle being a group of like-minded or otherwise friendly with each other bloggers – or sometimes non-blogger commenters – who would comment and share among the group in particular, but who were sometimes effectively part of more than one group. There are people I call friends, met through blogging. Oh, and a wife, who gave me three lovely children. Nothing virtual about that.

I posted anything I wanted, though not in the outrageous details of, say, Acidman, not worrying who might read it. I didn’t worry about the topic, since it was a general blog. I’d like to try going some of the way back to that, though unless it were an anonymous blog, I’d still pause and consider who might be reading. Family didn’t know about blogs, at first. Now having a pen name is not enough. At least, not the pen name they all know. We were at Blogblivion for a long time, so people might not look for us here. Same goes for having posted sparsely so long, and for my having blogged solo in places.

My goal has been to import stuff, if not ALL the things, from the old version of AV, from BB, and from some of the topical or solo blogs, bringing it all back here. You can see how far I got, considering it is May and that was one of my “yay, the kids are in school” projects. But then, my goal has also been to write longer things, like a book about my business experience.

Maybe I can’t write for a living. Maybe it can only be an outlet. Blogging was made for that. That’s not what this post is about, but I have no idea what I might do for a living otherwise, to step it up beyond a part-time job, however well paid. I seem to have lost all interest in computers, and between the changes inherent in the passage of time since I closed the business, and the lack of keeping current that was part of why the business had to close, I have limited confidence. Not zero, since I know how inherently brilliant I am at learning and figuring these things out – or intuiting them – but you gotta have skills to get work that pays. Which has been a problem for us, the donut hole situation. What I make on about 22 hours would need to be about five times as much on a 40 hour job that had to pay additional taxes, health costs, and daycare… to break even, but lose time. Add in the confidence I lost when I was unable to interview successfully, for what little I got that far at, and my lack of desire to make the economy look good for this administration, and you have a bit of an impasse.

Remember when my tagline was “but I digress…”? There’s a reason for that!

Here’s to many more years of digression, and hoping the blogosphere doesn’t die entirely.

Happy Anniversary!

On this day nine years ago, we were on our way from Fresno to Las Vegas, arriving late in the afternoon at the Luxor. After checking in, we searched for the place where you pay the government for the right to be married. And searched. Eventually, we found it. A clever sales guy outside snagged our business for the Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. No idea where we’d have ended up, left to our own devices. That worked out, and we rewarded him for the good sense to patrol the opposite side of the street from the mob of other chapel sales people.

And so we got married, as originally planned, sight unseen, we’d hit it off that well long distance. Is friendship the best basis for marriage? Does agreeing on most things supply longevity that might not be there if it were mainly about an overheated attraction? Perhaps. We each had some second thoughts, even then, and we’ve not been problem-free. Yet we don’t seem to be going anywhere, and non-traditional though we may sometimes be, the kids do not appear to be doomed to grow up in a sundered household, as I and so many did. Have the rocky parts ultimately strengthened us? Arguably so.

All told, I can’t imagine my life alone, or with that hypothetical wasn’t-gonna-happen someone else. Or without the three kids. These specific kids, born of this particular mother. I can regret my age and timing, and ponder mightabeens, but wow. Just wow.

Time travel to the post I wrote after my return home, five days later, apparently my first substantive post following the wedding.

Cooking, Blogging and Tech, Oh My

Or: Pay attention to your sites, dude.

Once upon a time, Jeff Soyer started a food blog called Single Guy Cook, which I hough was a brilliant idea. Unfortunately, it ran out of steam quickly, given limited funds and repertoire.

That inspired me to start one called Married Guy Cook, since I used to post frequently about what I’d cook, and I’d gotten deeply into cooking since getting married. Unfortunately, it hobbled along, given limited funds and repertoire, and I trailed off due to that and other issues. However, it was a popular and lucrative site, for a time, for earning money.

That and being even more broke than ever (I’d never realized while I was self-employed just how low my income was, though I did know that it was incredibly rocky – impossible, technically – to live on it) were part of the inspiration for starting Frugal Guy Cook, to which I ported the posts from Married Guy Cook.

Then I all but abandoned it, despite all my plans to make money from it, and to expand the focus to being frugal in this ridiculous economy and to handling our son’s multiple allergies and sensitivities. That meant it didn’t build much content or garner page rank, and never became a potential source of income. Granted, that was partly the reperoire thing, and the money thing goes without saying, but that was part of the schtick. Only so many things you can tout doing with dried pinto beans, cheap burger on sale (OK, that’s an oxymoron these days; burger that is sometimes on sale for less epensive enough to justify its purchase, if only because we have to eat), cheap beef on sale, cheap chicken on sale, rice, and what vegetables we can afford, or buy regardless. I never buy fish, for instance, because $5/lb and up is “rich people food.” Indeed, my current conundrum is that since my stents, I am supposed to eat healthier, and while there have been steps in that direction, going whole hog means money. And if I do spend more on food, it ceases to be “frugal,” at least by my standards. The next couple weeks will test my frugality. We have a freezer relatively full of meat, which helps, and are well stocked in other things, but I expect to have maybe $60 or so to spend through November 9th (maybe more, but there’s also gas, and I have to plan low rather than optimistic). Bread alone is $6-7 a week. Anyway, I digress.

I slacked off on that site so badly that I have yet to fix the weirdness that porting from the old one caused, or adjust the theme to look less funny as a result (or replace the theme).

On my last big shopping trip, I got a sugar pumpkin on sale for 29¢ a pound. Cheap and I love making pumpkin bread or other things from the source, though canned is easier. Yesterday I went looking for a pumpkin bread recipe. I may have had one saved on my computer, but my computer, and the spare one into which I put the till working drive from the dead one, is dead. I thought I might have written about making pumpkin bread, and if so, it might have made it onto the food blog. Otherwise it’s a matter of finding a likely looking recipe and trying it, rather than using one I knew was good from past use. Not that there’s much you can do to mess up pumkin bread. Besides, I can always make pumpkin cake, which is a matter of using pumpkin as the liquid in the egg and dairy-free cake recipe and adding appropriate seasoning.

In the course of checking whether I’d ever posted it, I found that every picture in every post I looked at had been replaced by a square graphic saying “SHOPWIKI.” Clicking the picture, rather than bringing up a larger version, took me to a site not my own.

“How was I hacked,” I wondered.

Well, I wasn’t. I allowed the old domain to expire, an unusual thing for me, but sometimes there’s reason to let go. The posts I had ported still pointed to graphics (and sometimes internal links) on the old domain. Which now belongs to someone else. My experience with lapsed domains, even if they have no page rank, is that someone snaps them up and makes them page full of ad links, such that they will generate at least something over the cost of registering and hosting the domain. It’s what my old business partner would have called “yawn money.” Make money while you sleep. Even if it’s a little, even if it’s some tiny form of arbitrage, it will add up and be something you wouldn’t make otherwise. I could go for some of that.

I still had all the graphics, mind you. The folder the old domain had been in was totally intact. So I copied it to the new location and modified each wrong URL directly in the database. Easy, but a bit embarrassing, given that it should have been done at the time of the port.

The moral of the story, I’d say, is pay attention. If you’re going to have a blog empire, mind your blog empire. If you’re going to write, write. If you’re going to maintain places to write, maintain them. Don’t be surprised if neglect leads to decay.

At the moment, I am only posting here, trying to do it regularly, building back up a blog we should never have left fallow in the first place. If it weren’t for the difficulty in porting Expression Engine to WordPress, the entire original content would be here, rather than archived. The conundrum is that topical blogs are lucrative. That was part of the reason for Frugal Guy Cook in the first place. I’ll probably post food-related stuff here now, but it’s an opportunity missed. Same for tech blogging and business blogging. I fell out of both, tech in paricular, since I all but stopped doing it for a living, and I lacked the money to keep myself up to date, which feeds the no doing it for a living and vice-versa. We’ll see what happens. For the time being, writing and maintaining this stuff is de facto a job for me, so all the more reason it should get caught up and get done routinely. Income, however speculative and lacking in direct connection to the effort, won’t be possible at all otherwise.