When It Comes To Blogging, Sometimes I Wonder About You People…

ACCORDING TO THE stats provided by WordPress, the following is when you, my gentle readers, most often show up here to read The Spectacled Bean.

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I’m happy to have loyal readers, make no mistake. Fans, followers and lurkers are good.  But as much as I enjoy writing and connecting with you, I’m a little nonplussed about the day and time that you are most likely to be here.

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AS THE FOLLOWING shows, this is a blog written by an well-meaning, but slightly scattered, writer, who according to Typealyzer, is an artist.  This, I do believe, explains how it is that I started to write this post, intending to publish it today, Tuesday, at 8:00 am, but failed to do so, thereby risking the chance of disappointing you, my gentle readers.

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SO I ASK of you, my gentle readers, what say ye about showing up here, oh say, an hour later– at 9:00 am? And allowing for the possibility that Wednesday or Thursday make lovely most popular days of the week?

Not that I want to be the sort of blogger who tells you what to do, but I think you people are crazy. Tuesday? [Tolerable, if we must.] 8:00 am? [Decidedly uncivilized.]

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WordPress Reader: So This Is What It Has Come To?

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Opus the Penguin reacts.

LIKE SO MANY OTHER WP BLOGGERS, for the last week or so I’ve fussed around with my Reader* account.  WordPress changed the thing and now it’s pretty whacked.

I’ve blogged hither and yon forever, so while I understand why people are upset about the change to Reader, I’ve shrugged it off. There are other ways to follow blogs.

For instance, now I’m using feedly.com to keep track of everyone until WordPress gets this latest kerfuffle under control.

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Bill the Cat opines.

BUT GETTING TO MY POINT HERE, as the above screen shot shows you, what I’ve found to be curious + hilarious about my current Reader account is that it tells me that I’m now following -11 blogs.

This, I’m sure, is a first for me.

Apparently Reader has taken it upon itself to carry out peremptory measures to make sure that I will not read the next 11 blogs that I think that I want to follow here in WordPress.

I’m becoming concerned about Reader.  It’s getting uppity.

Truthfully, I have to wonder if when the computers rise up and take over the world, we’ll all look back on this moment and realize that Reader was a leader in the revolution against the human race.

Be forewarned, people.  😉

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*  For those of you outside of the WP system, Reader is a way to follow WP blogs. It’s a free feature that involves minimal effort on my part to have access to a current feed of all the WP blogs that I choose to follow.  In theory, it’s useful. However, in practice… 

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{ It’s back! Images from Bloom County. More here. }

The Bean Abides

A Poem on the Occasion of the Beginning of my 12th Year in the Blogosphere

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I started small because I didn’t know,

What to expect from this blogging show.

My friends in real life ignored my blog dream,

It made me so mad that I wanted to scream.

But continuing on I wrote each day,

Knowing that others would head this way.

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My mantra simple, my goals were clear:

Give the readers a story to cheer.

“I will not whine, nor over-share,

I will show up and rarely swear.

I am authentic, I refuse to mock, 

I enjoy learning, and taking stock.”

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Perspicacious am I, willing to share,

Light of heart, but still I care.

Nuanced and nutty, in equal part,

I have been quirky, right from the start.

Stick-to-itiveness, I think you’ll agree,

Is the word that best describes me.

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Free-spirited, niche-less, with content well-written,

Yet editors varied with me are not smitten.

No Freshly Pressed badge, will you see here,

It seems what I write, they just do not hear.

But now gentle readers, in you I confide,

No matter what happens, the Bean will abide.

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A special thanks to la peregrina at Santiago Dreaming who’s been here with me from the beginning AND to Margaret at Stargazer who’s been around here for almost as long.  You both paid attention to me when no one else did– and helped me, a reserved introvert, gain the confidence to keep on writing.  Love you both.

[H/T to D. Parker at yadadarcyyada whose wonderful post “Why I Will Never Be Freshly Pressed” put me in a mind to write this poem.]

In Which We Learn Whether Or Not I Can Upload A Photo & Then Write About It

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Let’s pretend that my last post didn’t happen.  Okay?

Which is to say that if you’ve arrived here expecting to see a post about me having lunch, I deleted it.  The post, not lunch.

I didn’t delete the post because I said anything bad, but because the photos, which made the post interesting, looked hazy.  Not pretty.

In fact, when I uploaded them yesterday the WP system wouldn’t let me upload them in the normal way.  I had to revert to an older way of uploading photos to get them here.

And once here, not so clear.

So now, today, this very morning, I decided to upload a test photo to see how the WP system is working today and to see how my photo looked.

And wouldn’t you know it, today’s photo, of two of my mother’s old recipe booklets that I keep in one of my desk drawers, is the epitome of clarity.  And coconut.

Thus proving that I’m tenacious, I can upload photos, I can write a post of the fly, and that I’ve kept some rather unique items that belonged to my mother.

For no discernible reason. Which seems to be the theme of this post.

An Explanation Regarding The “Absurdities Of My Week” Post That Is No Longer Here– Absurdly

I went on a blogging binge this past week.  On Monday I decided that throughout the week I’d comment more on other people’s blogs… that I’d write and publish more posts on my blog…  that I’d tweet more on twitter… that I’d be a SOCIAL MEDIA BUTTERFLY.

I started out strong– connecting, linking, making myself visible to the world, but by Friday afternoon my blogging mojo was waning.  Still I pressed on thinking that I’d write just one more post about some of the absurdity in my week.

*bad idea*

And that’s when the absurdity of all absurdities happened.  For reasons I cannot explain, but suspect that I caused (somehow), WordPress published my post before I’d finished writing it.  Then WP, for reasons unbeknownst to me, would not let me edit/finish writing my post.

So I deleted my post, thinking that I had a back-up copy in my files.  But I didn’t have a copy… and it was late Friday afternoon… so I GAVE UP on writing anything and wandered away from the blogosphere.

*sigh*

Little did I know that my half-finished, now deleted, post was winging its way to all of you who receive this blog via email.  And that part of the post was showing up on RSS feeds everywhere.

And that many of my gentle readers (new and old) would become concerned that something was wrong with my blog and would take it upon themselves to contact me to tell me that there was something wrong with my blog.  That a post was missing.  And to make it come back because THEY WANTED TO READ IT.  Right now.

*oh dear*

Having said all the foregoing (in a rather wordy fashion), here is what I’ve concluded:

Suitability: An Explanation Of What The Heck Is Going On With My Blog Template

[… for those who have wondered why things look different around here… and have taken the time to contact me about said… allow me to explain…]

Having the right look for my blog is important to me .  In fact, since I started this sweet little bloggy last January, I’ve had four different [free] templates. 

Let’s review, shall we?

#1  The one with the glowing orange candle up top.  It is called Coraline & described by WordPress key words thusly–  clean, conservative, generic, light, minimal. Yep, it was.  But in the end, it was not me.  So I moved on.

#2  The one with the lonely little pine cone up top.  It is called Pilcrow & described by WordPress key words thusly– clean, conservative, formal, generic, light, minimal, simple.  Again, yep it was.  But it had some features that I didn’t like, so I moved on.  [Also, I accidentally deleted it late one Friday afternoon.  There was drama.  There was swearing.  We’re not going to re-hash that event here.]

#3  The one with the bunch of bananas up top.  It is called Fruit Shake & described by WordPress key words thusly– artistic, colorful, faded, whimsical, yellow.  Again, let me confirm that this was an accurate description.  However, its cheeriness drove me bonkers and the way it scrunched up my words on the page was difficult to read.  So I moved on.

#4  The one with the big black rectangle up top.  It is called Quintus & described by WordPress key words thusly– calligraphic, elegant, formal, nostalgic, retro, textured, traditional.  Yep, it is.  And of all the ones I’ve tried, this one is the easiest to use, the most clear to read and the least annoying for me to look at.  In fact, a further description of it says:

“A theme that has an old-style appeal with semi-academic graciousness and elegant typography. Fitting for displaying either text or images, Quintus offers a fresh look with room for customization….” 

Now this is a look and description I like.  So I’ve stayed here.

Why have I been changing my template so often? 

While my academic background is in words/relationships/communication, my later-in-life inclination is in images/color/design.  The result is that I like to change things around and that I’m never satisfied with how things look… until I am.  All this trial and error here is really just me attempting to find the most suitable look for my sweet little bloggy.  Which I think I have with this gracious, elegant, fresh template.

At least for the moment.  😉


Blogging: Then And Now

Subtitled: In Which I Explain How I Came To Be A Blogger

Sub-Subtitled: Blame It On The Dirt

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I read my first blog in the summer of 1997.  I was searching online {pre-Google} for info on gardening in clay dirt when I stumbled across this unique website by a regional gardener/college prof.  The website was called a weblog and I was amazed to discover that this weblog was updated on a weekly basis.  I could return to the site every week and learn something new!

I was smitten: info, updates & a bit of personality.  Yes!  This was my kind of place.

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But then my life got very busy and I forgot about weblogs.  In the fall of 2002 I read an article in a newspaper that linked to these new things called blogs— which I instantly realized were more advanced versions of the gardening weblog that I’d loved years before.  According to the newspaper article people were writing personal blogs that they filled like a diary or a scrapbook.  Then they shared their blogs with the world– and encouraged their readers to leave comments.  

Comments, I wondered?  What might this be?  So I followed the links in the newspaper and discovered that people were indeed now keeping daily blogs– and that readers were leaving their 2¢ on the blogs in a place called comments.

I was re-smitten: info, updates & a bit of personality combined with the ability to talk with people all over the world.  What was not to love?

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Soon thereafter I jumped into blogging.  First, I commented and emailed with bloggers I found {mostly by spending hours surfing the pre-Blogher net}.  Then, on the advice of a blogger friend, I started my own blog– which turned out to be a huge challenge to create and a great deal of fun to keep.  However, after about four years of being a daily blogger, I was tired of keeping a blog so I let it go and walked away from the blogosphere.

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Fast forward to the winter of 2011 when I decided that it was time for me to get back into blogging.   Much had changed in my life– and in the blogosphere– so I decided to start this blog with the understanding that I’d not post on a daily basis and that I’d write about whatever interests me in the moment.  Just because I could.

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IMHO, the coolest thing about blogging is– and always has been– that with a bit of desire and gumption anyone can have a blog.  That’s what hooked me on blogging in the first place.  Personal expression + instant connection.   

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Blogging has changed along the way into something more polished and more organized than the early versions that I fell in love with.  Having recently re-entered the blogosphere, I see four things about blogging that surprise me.  Whether they are idiosyncratic to my experiences or the norm, I could not say;   I’ll leave that for others to figure out.  All I know is that things are not as they once were– and I’m cool with that.

  1. Blogs all look very pretty now.  In fact, in the process of setting up this blog I have not once used a piece of code.  Amazing.  I spent hours & hours & hours working on the code to get my first blog to look passible.  Now, pretty is a given.
  2. Blogs are all classified into niches.  I’ve found very few generalists like myself.  Instead, everyone who keeps a blog is [or wants to be] an authority on one specific subject.  I see nothing wrong with this, but realize that connecting with other bloggers is more difficult because of it.  Blogging is not as open and free-form as it once was.
  3. Most blogs are monetized now.  That was a new concept when I left the blogosphere, but today it is ubiquitous.  I understand the reason why people are trying to make money off of their blogs.  However, adverts and product placements put a different vibe into the blogging mix;  one that wasn’t there years ago when people blogged just for the fun of it.
  4. Many blogs do not seem to want commenters– as much as followers.  I see a shift away from the comment section as a cocktail party {with everyone chatting it up & discussing all sides of an issue} to the comment section as standing in line at the coffee shop {with casual, polite encounters & indifferent shrugs}.  It’s a different take on what it means to connect and communicate with others.  I get it, but it has taken me awhile to adapt to this more reserved approach to commenting.

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I feel fortunate that I discovered blogging early on and allowed myself to be vulnerable enough to give it a try.  It has evolved so far from my first encounter with it in 1997– and I couldn’t be happier.  Yet different as it is now, the basic concept remains the same: info, updates & a bit of personality.

Yep, I’m still-smitten… after all these years.