Tag Archives: blogs

A cool tip to improve your online writing

Here’s today’s thought-provoking tip for writing online. (This alleged “tip” is pretty much useless on typewriters and such.)

Tip: Never use the number eight followed by a right parentheses. Ever. Somewhere down the line some device or web site or widget will turn that character sequence into the “cool” smiley.

Case in point: http://broadsideblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/ten-ways-to-seriously-improve-your-writing/

Just look at that little bastard there, all smiling and shit, feeling oh so proud of himself! I found the unexpected presence of the cool smiling in a post about improving your writing just a little ironic. 🙂

If you must number things, use “ordered lists.” (If you are in HTML.) WordPress provides a little icon for that in their online editor. If not, then try using periods. They seem less susceptible to involuntary smiley replacements.

🙂

WordPress tagging

What do you know about WordPress tags?

Do you use them? Give them any thought at all? Do you ever go exploring blogs by tag?

No great insights here. I haven’t studied them that much yet. But I did notice that recently I was #1 for the poop tag. Still am! I have to admit that made me very happy. There is nothing inherently “negative” about poop but somehow it became a fixture around here. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Did you know if you have the “tag cloud” enabled on your blog, clicking a tag link there will show posts with that tag from your blog only? But that if you click the tag in the post’s header (or footer, depending on the theme) it will take you, instead, to the page for all WordPress blogs with that tag? It’s pretty neat.

I’m still not sure how to tweak my tags for maximum results. Should I use the plural version of the word, the non-plural version or both? I do know that as far as WordPress is concerns the plural and non-plural versions of the same tag are treated as two different things.

What else have you learned? What is your experience? Got any funny stories? Maybe you’ve been #1 for a tag a lot? Or maybe you have questions about tags, too? If so, let me know.

Tags a lot!

Note: I know this is a super-lame post. I waiting too long and gave myself about four minutes to write it. Epic fail!

Edit: By the way, I just noticed this is my 500th post. I guess that puts me knee deep in the hoopla!

Poaching the blogger’s notebook

I found this little tidbit of wisdom in the little notebook I carry around in my shirt pocket 24/7. (I call it my blogger’s notebook.)

My people say that once you kill a buffalo you don’t hunt it anymore.

The blogger’s notebook is where I record all the fantastic ideas that eventually go on to become my super-lame blog posts. Or is that the other way around? Naw, I’m pretty sure I have those in the proper order.

The notebook is supposed to be a place where I write my important thoughts so they’ll never be forgotten, then one day can become blog posts and shared with the whole wide world.

What usually happens, though, is that I wait a bit too long and completely forget why I wrote something down. I always assume in the moment, with no small amount of arrogance, that when I return to the notebook two things will magically happen: I’ll be able to read the writing (not a forgone conclusion by any stretch of the imaginations) and that it will also trigger a memory that explains what I’ve written.

I’m not too surprised the process has failed me … again. 🙂 I have no idea why I wrote that down. I can vividly remember that it meant something but what that something is, exactly, is no longer knowledge in my possession.

I often say phrases that start with “my people…” even though I’m the whitest slice of bread you’ll ever see. I don’t even have any ancestry. I’m what is known informally as “American mutt.” My grandfather fancied himself an Irishman, but that has never been proven. And I may be part German, but that’s just a guess from my parents. I guess you won’t see me featured in a commercial for Ancestry.com anytime soon. Even so, that doesn’t stop me using the phrase “my people” every chance I get.

I use it the most when someone attempts to point a camera at me. I refuse to be liable for damages to cameras, so I can’t allow my picture to be taken. I usually make it a joke, saying, “My people believe cameras steal our spirit.” Who is going to have the balls to challenge such personal beliefs? Amazingly this usually works which is why no pictures of me are known to exist.

This doesn’t help explain what I wrote, though. The phrase “my people” is deceptive here and isn’t really what the quote is about. So what could it possibly be then?

Then I notice the line just below. I have written there “Tales of the Poachers.” That turns out to be an important clue. Now I remember a bit more. I was talking to someone who was a Fish and Game warden for years. He had so many interesting stories that I practically begged him to write a blog and/or a book about his lifetime of experiences. He just shrugged and said, “Yeah, maybe.” The way he said it convinced me he’d do no such thing even though I was literally begging him. He has so many damn interesting stories. If I had the resources I’ve interview the hell out of him and blog his experiences myself. Unfortunately that’s not going to happen either.

So my quote has to do with poaching. That much is clear, even though I can’t remember exactly why I wrote it down. But I do remember this: Poaching pisses me off. Big time. I think anyone who abuses animals and/or kills for fun (and wastes what they have taken) is a serious piece of scum and that they will go on to do worse things, like hurt people. I strongly support stiff punishments for these bastards.

Poaching takes many forms. One example is the killing for “fun” and leaving the animal to rot. What a stupid waste! It is hard to say if other forms are just as nefarious, such as the systematic killing of certain species because of some perceived benefit to humans (like ivory trade). That also makes me angry and sick.

The use of parts of endangered species (such as seahorses, rhinoceros horns, and tiger bones and claws) has created controversy and resulted in a black market of poachers who hunt restricted animals. Deep-seated cultural beliefs in the potency of tiger parts are so prevalent across Asia that laws protecting even critically endangered species such as the Sumatran Tiger fail to stop the display and sale of these items in open markets, according to a 2008 report from TRAFFIC. Popular “medicinal” tiger parts from poached animals include tiger penis, believed to improve virility, and tiger eyes. (Source.)

I wish I was able to chronicle the experiences of my friend the game warden. He could tell the world about shit that would curl your hair. Shit that would make a real reality TV show. I think s0mething along those lines is what I must have meant when I scribbled in my notebook while listening to him.

Se7en blogging legalities

This post is brought to you by the number seven. Here are the "Original Seven" Mercury astronauts. From left: Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. Photo credit: NASA. Click for larger image.

Disclaimer: This post is made to satisfy statutory requirements under the Blogger Legal Obligations With Meritorious Excellence, Sub Chapter 1, Section 7734, Article 42.666.

On Feb. 21, 2010, I received two awards from the most excellent Teri’s Blip in the Universe blog.

As a recipient of the Kreativ Blogger Award I’m bound by the following rules:

1. Thank the person who awarded me the award, and link that person’s blog on my blog.

2. Identify seven things about myself.

3. Award seven bloggers with the “Kreativ Blogger Award,” post links to their blogs, and leave a comment on each of their blogs, to let them know of the honor.

As a recipient of the Sunshine Award I am required to “pass it on to a bunch of other bloggers.” For the sake of simplicity I’m going to assume this means seven, too.

On a side note, I also explored the concept of exponentially passing along awards to seven people, who then do the same thing to seven more blogs each, and so on and so on. Based on my calculations I discovered that the awards are actually a plot to increase the mass of planet Earth to the point that it collapses in on itself and creates a new black hole in our solar system. I estimate this event will happen in about 60 days. Now that will be fun to watch!

Yeah, I know I’m late on this but as you can see I had so many excellent blog ideas that had to be fleshed out first. Ha! Good one. I crack myself up.

Seriously, though, I am quite honored to receive these awards from such a great person and I will gladly pass on these awards.

Responsibility #1 was done immediately on my awards page, the layout of which was ruined by receiving an actual award. The page had been carefully laid out with feng shui in mind with absolutely no thought given to receiving an award which was previously considered impossible. 🙂 Sadly the receiving of an award shattered the carefully sought after balance of the page.

Responsibility #2 is clearly a recipe for disaster, but I seemingly have no choice. Seven things about myself? Hmm. I was going to say stuff like “I’ve never been in outer space” and “I’ve never earned a gold medal in the Olympics” and “I’ve never won a Nobel peace prize,” but somehow that felt like cheating and going against the spirit of the awards. Believe me when I say I’m just as uncomfortable with this rule as you are! So here goes:

  1. My first kiss happened at church camp with a person who went by the name of Tex. Yep, pardner. You heard that right. We literally never saw Tex without a cowboy hat made of straw, which I imagine is where the nickname came from. Young people are clever that way. Tex and I were like peas and carrots and one day Tex just grabbed me, pulled me into the bushes and planted one right on the kisser. It’s hard to imagine a better first kiss. And, oh yeah, almost forgot – Tex was a girl. 🙂
  2. I’m a certified open-water scuba driver. Did you know scuba stands for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus? Anyway, my dad was a very active scuba diver and I had my own 10-minute air tank from the time I was a wee child. I would scuba in nearby lakes and rivers when I was a kid. I’ve also dived in oceans off two different countries.
  3. Once I passed out on the dance floor of Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, Mexico, after drinking too many off their powerful margaritas. It is still unknown if I survived that night or not.
  4. In seventh grade I opted for “Home Economics” rather than “shop.” I was making and eating chocolate chip cookies in a class where I was the only male while all of the rest of the seventh grade males made electric lamps out of wood blocks. Being the only boy in a class full of girls is the only way to go. I guess I did have some smarts when I was a lad.
  5. I played trombone in elementary school and went on to concert band, stage band and marching band in high school. A month before a statewide solo competition I broke my hand and quickly had to learn the baritone (which is a valve instrument much like a small tuba). I went on to the statewide competition on my new instrument and received the highest possible score (superior) for the performance of my solo with piano accompaniment.
  6. In high school I aced the final exam in “elementary radioactivity.” The teacher said I was the first student in the history of the school to ace the exam and then accused me of cheating.
  7. The books I’ve reread the most are, by far, “The Hunt for Red October” by Tom Clancy and “Dune” by Frank Herbert.

To break up the enormity of this task, the outgoing awards will be issued in the weeks ahead in separate posts as time permits. Be on your best behavior or I may pick you. Mwuhahaha!

Keyboard potpourri

Regularly scheduled blog post interrupted due to keyboard groping

This was not supposed to be my next post. Oh bother.

I just spent some serious time working on my “pay it forward” post regarding some awards I’ve received where the rules state I have to pass on awards to se7en other bloggers and reveal se7en things about myself.

Spoiler alert: Victoria’s Secret. That’s all I’m sayin’.

It turned out to be a lot more work than I was expecting to do that sort of post. I had to think and stuff and everything! So, rather than try to push the post out before its time, I’m switching to keyboard-monkey-mode so I can get something out tonight while I’m still awake.

Here are some random things from my brain. Whatever.

Bear Jamboree
My wife and I ran into another bear today. That’s two bear encounters in three days. Pretty good, huh? I was able to grab this photo.

Television Graveyard?
We parted ways with our Panasonic television today. To recap: We paid $2,400 for the thing over three years ago. It worked about 14 months before it died. When waited over a year and finally took it into the shop earlier this week while on our vacation. The repair estimate came back at $550 which is more than it would cost to buy a new one, so I guess the darn thing is a disposable item. It is pretty sad when repair costs exceed the replacement cost for a completely new item. The repair shop said they’d “recycle” the TV for us so we didn’t even bother to pick it up. I’m sure that means they’ll fix it cheaply and sell it for a profit. I couldn’t help but notice they had used sets for sale in their lobby.

Chef, control thy ingredients!
Lastly, we had lunch today and we’ve finally learned an important lesson about being vegetarians. When placing an order in a restaurant, it is not good enough to simply say “no bacon” or “no ham.” I say this because my wife’s omelette the other day contained some small bits of bacon which is kinda sorta a no-no for vegetarians. Then today her salad had pieces of chicken in it.

My wife picked out several pieces of chicken and showed them to our waitress and boy, did she really care about that. She even said, “Will you be wanting any dessert?” My wife says that place is on her list now. 🙂

You’d think that restaurants would control their ingredients better. No mandarin oranges in the clam chowder, no anchovies in the ice cream, etc. Alas, that seems to be too hard.

So from now on in addition to saying “no bacon” we’re going to add: “We are vegetarians. It must be a vegetarian preparation.” No more confusion and no more accepting anything less than what we order. Dammit.

Fancy Bakery / Four on the Floor
On our recent trip to the big city we visited a special kind of bakery. It is called a patisserie which, of course, is Francais for “fancy bakery.” And at that bakery they served something called petit fours which, of course, is Francais for “cake at $1 a bite.”

Klingon Spring Rolls
Also in the big city we visited a P.F. Changs. For those unfamiliar it’s a “China bistro.” Part of the shtick is that they mix your sauce table-side. Ooooh. I ordered the spring rolls that had the little vegetarian symbol on the menu. My wife, who knows these kinds of things, noticed the outside of the spring rolls were barely warm and the insides were completely without heat. I had to flag down our waitress and ask if the spring rolls were Klingon? She didn’t grok so I elaborated, “You know. A dish best served cold?” Unlike the other restaurant, however, they cared about what we said and brought us hot ones and when we received the bill, they’d taken them off which they certainly didn’t have to do.

Se7en blog awards

I’m sure a question like this will sound extremely familiar to a lot of people who have been around the block a time or two.

If you were offered $1 million dollars or a penny doubled every day for a month (30 days), which would you choose?

The $1 million might sound like the best deal, but it’s not.

On day 1 you’d have a penny. On day 2 you’d have two pennies. Day 3 would be a whopping four cents. And it turns out that by day ten you’d have $5.12.

After that, however, things quickly begin to change.

Day 15 would be $163.84.

Day 20 would be $5,242.88.

On Day 28 something extremely interesting happens. You’d have $1,342,177.28, which is $340 thousand more than $1 million dollars.

On Day 30 you’d finally be done and you’d have over $5 million dollars. $5,368,709.12 to be exact. If you chose the sneaky penny doubling deal you’d end up approx. 5 times as happy. 🙂

Now all you have to do is sit around and wait for someone to offer you that deal.

I think a lot of us have probably heard some variation of this sort of thing before. The point is not subtle: Things that grow exponentially can get big very quickly.

I recently won a blog award and that got me thinking about this sort of thing. You see, the blog award has a rule that as a recipient of the award, you are asked to pass the award along to seven more bloggers.

See where I’m going yet? This is the exact same math problem, only instead of doubling per day it grows by seven times per interval.

Some assumptions we’ll make: The award will be passed on weekly to seven people. The following week each recipient will then pass the award on to seven more people. And so on and so on and so on. To keep things simple we’ll also make a rule that no one can receive the award more than once.

Week One starts with you and your award. Let’s assume you’re the first. Perhaps you invented the award and this silly little “chain letter” ruling in the first place! 🙂

Week Two you give the award to seven awesome peeps you know.

Week Three those seven people pass along the award to seven more people. That is 7 x 7 which means 49 people now have the award.

On Week Four those 49 people each give out 7 more awards. That is 49 x 7 or 343 people.

By Week Nine it would be about 9 million blogs.

Week 11 would be about 282 million blogs. It is interesting to note that as of Feb. 2010 WordPress estimated there were about 22 million blogs using WordPress software. That includes those hosted on WordPress.com and stand-alone software installations on other web servers.

Week 12 would be about 2 billion blogs. Week 13 approaches 14 billion blogs, which almost twice the people on planet earth. Week 14 is about 97 billion blogs. By Week 16 there would be about 5 trillion blogs to receive the award.

Going any further is just too darn silly, but I can tell you that by Week 30 the exact number of blog award winners under this scenario would be:

22,539,340,290,692,300,000,000,000

That’s a number so big I don’t even know how to describe it. My best guess would be 22,539 trillion trillion. Another way might be to say 22.5 septillion blogs. (A septillion is a 1 followed by 24 zeros.) For comparison it is estimated that the Death Star would have cost about $15.6 septillion. That’s about 1.4 trillion times the U.S. national debt. Meh.

I can say this much, though, with 100 percent certainty. Some people have clearly not been fulfilling their obligations to forward these “pass it on” type awards like they are supposed to! 🙂

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Stranger in a strange comment land

Commenter danger

One thing is clear: I write. Badly. Let’s face it – some people have a way with words and some people — well — not have way.

The pen is mightier than the sword, or in this case, the written word. And my sword is dull. I live and die on the ability to edit.

On my own blog this works fairly well. I can go back and edit and re-edit and re-edit again until I’ve cleaned up about 10 percent of the most glaring errors. Then the post is deemed good-to-go. Yes, I have my standards.

On my own blog I am the King. I wield godlike powers over what I have written. I edit with a ruthlessness all my own. I hack and slash words like there is no tomorrow. I correct the spelling of words that got past me and my built-in spellchecker. I fix words that my spellchecker recommended in error that I foolishly accepted. I fix words that even though quite badly misspelled somehow matched something valid in the dictionary. (Keyboard monkey alert!) And finally I go back and read third time with my “reader’s hat” and trim away any unneeded fluffy words. (This step is pure fiction. I never actually trim out any fluffy words. They are all my babies, little bundles of joy that I have birthed. I’m not about to take them out.)

On the other hand, sometimes I venture out onto other people’s blogs…

There I am rendered a stark naked shadow of my former self, all my powers stripped away, left impotent and helpless.

If I make a mistake on a comment, well that is just too damn bad. I’ll have to eat it for all eternity. (Or until the next database glitch, whichever comes first.)

Maybe I decide to share about my stress level and manually type into someone’s WordPress comment field: “Please don’t write to me for the next couple of days. I’m extremely busty right now.” Oops. My bad. Too late. I already clicked the dreaded “Submit Comment” button.

So I have a suggestion for the good folks at WordPress that will fix this once and for all. Give each blog administrator the option to allow editing of comments. Those who don’t want to enable the option, fine. Things will remain exactly as they stand today.

So why not allow comments to be edited? What’s the case against this? Well, for one thing it allows “take backs.” It represents a loss of control for the blog owner. For another, once comments have been saved and replied to, a sneaky person could return and edit their original comment to make the following replies look like they came from a bunch of dumb asses. Nobody wants that, right? (I’m trying to look innocent here.)

For the rest of us, however, a workable solution could go a little something like this:

  • The blog owner would enable “Allow users to edit comments.”
  • Commenters would be allowed to revise and edit their own comments as they wished. Each edit would provide an explanation field that could be used to alert the blog owner as to exactly why the edit had been requested.
  • Any edits would be saved to an “edit moderation queue.”
  • The blog owner would review all edits in a preview mode that showed the original comment (unaltered) and the requested edit side-by-side, with all differences highlighted in color. (Much like the way the edit history function works on Wikipedia.)
  • The blog owner would then approve or deny all requests as they see fit.

I think this would be a fantastic solution and would allow people to fix their own mistakes like obvious typos, broken URLs, etc.

Think about it, WordPress, will ya?

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