12

Premio Dardos Award

premio-dardos

A few days ago, I received a comment from Pratyush Dayal Misral of Englishphilia (https://englishphilia.wordpress.com) telling me that he had nominated me for the Premio Dardos Award. Being the savant of WordPress that I am*, I had no idea what the award was about. However I would recommend that you take a look at Englishphilia. I love the last line of his “About” page: “Whatever comes to the brim of my heart, comes to the rim of my blog.” The name of the blog comes from his love of English (which includes some very nice poetry), but the blog also includes a lot of interesting information about life in and around Bangalore.

Once I found out what the award is, I was really honored to be considered:

dardosBesides, it has a really cool logo/image. 🙂

Enough about me. The blogs I have chosen to nominate are listed below. If you haven’t been to them, you might want to take a look. (Does it surprise you to know I’d find an ethical site about cats?) I’m not sure if any of them live in an award-free zone, but I won’t hold that against them.

Anglo Saxon Celt Creates (https://anglosaxonceltcreates.wordpress.com). Sarah is an amazing artist, and you’ll enjoy looking at all the different stuff she does. But she is also an advocate for various women’s and/or health issues.

Belsbror (https://belsbror.wordpress.com). He writes wonderful short stories and also tells great stories about life in the Philippines. Very vivid images through words.

cancerkillingrecipe (https://cancerkillingrecipe.wordpress.com). Anna has been suffering from cancer and various other ailments. Her attitude toward life is inspiring.

Chotisibaatein (https://chotisibaatein.wordpress.com). The name is actually Hindi “Choti Si Baatein” for “Just Little Things”. To use a cliche, she is showing us how to “Stop and smell the roses.” There is also some great haiku.

Irish Investigations (https://irishinvestigations.wordpress.com). Jim is an extremely compassionate man who tells readers about people who are falling through the cracks in society. It’s very enlightening and humbling.

Katzenworld (katzenworld.co.uk). I can’t get a hyperlink to work, but I know they’re out there. Not only does this site have cool cat pictures, they also do a lot of education for cat owners. Safe products; how to read your cat’s mood; how to travel safely.

Ordinary Handsome (http://ordinaryhandsome.com). Another artist. This one is a photographer. He is also posting excerpts from a novel he is writing that seems to be getting inside the head of one/two of the characters. An interesting look at male/female power dynamics.

Pratheek M Reddy (https://pratheekreddy68.wordpress.com). Interesting view of his India. Personal stories, motivational pieces. Most recently poetry.

Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane Blog (http://5kidswdisabilities.com). She and her husband adopted several kids with serious challenges, both emotional/psychological and physical. The blog is all about keeping things in perspective and the importance of love in any relationship.

Riding the Greatest Rollercoaster – Life (https://lifethegreatrollercoaster.wordpress.com). Stories about life in India. The impressive thing is the perception of the author who is 14 years old (I wouldn’t have guessed it but I looked at his “about” page before I wrote this).

Roshan click’s (https://roshanrajclicks.wordpress.com). He is a Nepali living in Delhi who writes wonderful descriptions of both. His photographs are gorgeous.

Silver in the Barn (https://silverinthebarn.wordpress.com). Beautiful photographs. She has a wonderfully quirky but extremely practical way of looking at things. I really enjoy reading her posts.

The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife (http://siciliangodmother.com). I admit that I first looked at this blog because of the title. But she really understands Sicily (She’s from the UK), and she writes beautifully. She talks about sightseeing, the government, shoes, and all kinds of other stuff.

Through Mirrored Lens (http://pathsonwater.com). Uju is Nigerian and writes about a variety of subjects. I really like her pieces on gender equality and humans being humane to each other. She also has some very nice poetry.

Together (https://mintughoshal.wordpress.com). He writes short stories which usually end up having a moral buried in it. He writes a lot about the everyday interactions of people who (I assume) are similar to people he knows.

I’ve counted several times, and I’m pretty sure that’s 15. Hopefully you’ll enjoy giving one or two of them a look.

*If you’re fairly new to reading my blog, you may not know that I am probably the least technically proficient blogger around. This is actually the third award I’ve been nominated for. The first time I didn’t understand that I could receive it by doing something myself. I thought I was being judged “worthy” by some panel. The second time, I couldn’t get my links to work until it was so far past the original post date that I was embarrassed to do it.

 

 

6

Cats + Hedgehog + WordPress = Success

You may have guessed that I am not particularly detail-oriented about a lot of things. For example, I looked at the WordPress Stats page for the first couple of weeks I was blogging and haven’t been back. (It’s probably a little less depressing now.)

I am gracious enough to see who has joined the blog and check out their site. I reply to comments and look at the notification of who has “liked” a blog.

I’m guessing that the posts that continue to get “likes” as time goes by are the ones that appear in the little box you get telling you that someone liked your post. Which keeps them in the little box until you write something even more thrilling.

Anyway, after a period of (more or less) being clueless, it has slowly come to my attention that some subjects are significantly more popular than others. (I can sense the collective “duh!” out there.) Based on nothing other than a vague recollection of what I have received in my in-box, I think my topics are cats, hedgehogs, and WordPress/blogging.

So I had a brilliant idea. <groan> The cats and hedgehog should get their own blog. They could write about their adventures and become a WordPress sensation. Then I started thinking. (It’s a bad sign when the thinking comes after the great idea.)

  • Collectively, they sleep between 55 and 60 hours/day. That doesn’t leave much time for adventures.
  • None of them can type.
  • They don’t speak the same language. And none of them speak any type of human.
  • There are several cat-narrated blogs out there. I’m not sure that working with a hedgehog would be enough to differentiate them.
  • None of them are particularly good at working in groups (“diva syndrome”)
  • They don’t seem very interested in schedules, unless it’s for feeding time. Hugely irregular posting is not the route to celebrity.

So I’ve decided to share my blog with them. They will be making occasional appearances as guest-bloggers. I will type and make sure everything is in English.

That said, they need User Profiles. In order of adoption into the family:

Super Snooper – I am a beautiful calico cat. I joined the family in May 2012 when I was 2 years old. They rescued me from a shelter that must have had a million dogs in it. It was awful! My favorite activities are eating, sleeping and cuddling. I also like to eat photographs. I enjoy an occasional mousing expedition. Since it’s gotten colder, I really enjoy sleeping by the fireplace. I tried to climb in it after a cleaning, but the human made me get out. (There wasn’t a fire in there; I don’t know what the problem was.) My favorite toys are a stuffed sheep and a stuffed rat. I also go by the initials SS.

Kommando Kitty – I am part Siamese and part generic snow cat. I have extremely thick, white and gray, ultra-fine fur made for cold weather. I prefer to cuddle in front of the fire or in bed. I also enjoy sleeping and mousing. I joined the family in July 2012 when I was about 4 weeks old. My first humans deserted me. I tried to jump in the window here twice, but fell in the window well both times. Finally they brought me into the house. My new favorite toy is something Mom (the alpha female here) calls a laptop computer. I am making it do things even she doesn’t understand. I go by the initials KK.

Horatio Hedgehog – I am an African Pygmy Hedgehog. I have black and white quills and a furry tummy. I joined the family last Christmas. It is really cold here. Luckily the humans have given me a heater. I don’t really like cats, but these two are OK. Dad (the alpha male) finally figured out that I was tired of only getting kitty kibble to eat (I’m not a cat, you know). So now I get a few wax worms at night. They are extremely yummy. I only have one toy, my wheel. But I really like it and use it every night. I go by the initials HH.

So that’s the team. They wanted a title for their posts, so people won’t confuse them with mine. We have come up with Kritter Kapers. (Nobody gets their name in the title.) I read that the letter “K” is supposed to appeal to readers. I don’t get it – it just looks misspelled to me. You will see the first post sometime next month.

Assuming I can keep Kommando from turning off my email or Internet access.

14

WordPress, I am Really Disappointed in You

Dear WordPress

I thought we were friends, maybe a little more. We’ve been together for more than a year now. You’ve introduced me to a lot of people, most of them friendly and kind. (Although there was that one guy who seemed to get stranger and stranger the more he posted.) You helped me improve my writing and gave me an outlet for my strange humor. You never judged.

But one day, you stopped sending me emails from the people I was following. I waited, but still nothing from you. After a few days, I sent an email to your help desk. No response. Obviously I didn’t mean as much to you as you do to me. I checked my blog list. No, I hadn’t inadvertently turned off the notifications of everybody.

Finally, I realized that I would have to look outside our relationship. I posted to the forum. They answered within a couple of hours. The writer gave me a link to see whether or not I had blocked the emails. It said I had.

WordPress, I don’t even know how to get to that screen. Obviously, we are having serious communication problems. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve you trying to cut me off from every one. I visit you almost every day. I give you posts. I check out a lot of other sites.

Speaking of other sites, what’s up with the ones you are suggesting for me? I know I am following a wide variety of sites, but your choices seem a little strange. I really don’t think you understand me at all.

For instance, the ones that are “followed by the people I follow”. The people I follow are talented. If I’m following three good poets, which one of them is responsible for you sending me to a blog that wouldn’t make the cut for discount greeting cards?

And why don’t I see those sites when I look at the posts I receive? Are you trying to create trouble between me and the people I follow? Are you trying to tell me that those people have talent, but no taste? Or do you have bloggers you want me to support? Are there kickbacks involved?

What about those humor sites you send me to? I would guess there are several hundred thousand humor blogs that are actually funny. Do all of my contacts have that many unfunny friends they are supporting? Are all of the good blogs written in Danish?

And the sites where I have “liked” something previously. Am I the only one who “likes” a post, but really isn’t that fond of the general content of a blog? Maybe after a few weeks of me still not following, you could get the hint and take it off my “suggested” list? Obviously I have been there and am still not following.

What is the idea behind sites that are similar to sites you follow? I actively follow (have the posts come to my email) blogs on poetry, photography, humor, history, travel, philosophy, animals, and life stories. I passively follow (occasionally looking at the Reader) several more of the same type. Why do you send me cooking sites? Or gardening?

The final group I get are “Freshly Pressed”. They seem to be a hodgepodge of blogs that may or may not be related to my interests. Are you trying to get more followers for your favorite “Freshly Pressed”? Do you assume that since you like them, I will like them?

I have tried typing in tags to find something I might like. Strangely enough, “hedgehogs” and “bears” took me to a list of sites that actually use that tag. When I typed in “humor”, I did not get a list of sites. I got sent to the list of topics I could choose from. One of which was humor. When I clicked “humor” there, I got a list of blogs that used the category humor. There are no blogs that use the tag “humor”?

I tried “Recommended”. No matter which topic I picked, there were so many choices it would have taken a day (or more) to get through them all. Who is recommending them all? Do they get to stay on there forever? Have you been introduced to the concept of “sub-topic”?

WordPress, I think you are playing favorites. You won’t tell me how blogs get put on certain lists or get awards, but you want me to trust your judgment. Judgment that doesn’t seem to understand me at all.

I was obviously wrong about you. I thought you cared. Now I see I’m only a file to you, nothing more. But get a clue – if you keep suggesting things that I might like and I don’t, I may just stop trusting you.

Sincerely

Cat9984

7

Technology Strikes Back

Miss me? Talk to Edgar.

Edgar is my new Toshiba laptop (with Windows 8.1). Yes, I finally have one. And my dreams of being able to finish my email and work on my blog on the same day are, at this point, still dreams.

The issue was that my weird work schedule leads to a weird sleep schedule. I have to get up at 2:30a to be at work by 4a. Due to some unfortunate genetic material, I have always needed 8-9 hours of sleep/day. Except when I’m manic, but that has its own problems.

The only time I tried to stay up all night at college to finish a paper was a bit of disaster. I’m sure the paper was horrible. At least I did it on a typewriter so I was saved the embarrassment of rereading it. But the notes I took in Constitutional Law were worthless – I’d write a few words then put a citation number. Never finished a single thought.

Anyway – if you calculate backwards from 2:30a, you get to 6:30p. I’m sure there are some people who are more disciplined than I am (probably 90% of the world). But I am totally incapable of going to bed at 6:30p and staying in bed until 2:30a. For one thing, I’d miss ‘Bones’.

So my solution (all you scientific types who understand circadian rhythms should probably skip this paragraph) has been 2 naps that last 2-3 hours plus ‘bed’ which is 3-3.5 hours). So I sleep at 1p, 4:30p, and 11p. It actually works pretty well. Except for sharing the PC. Since I’m sleeping while he’s at work, we need to share. Which wasn’t really a problem when I was only using it for news and emails.

Finally my husband got tired of me complaining, and here we are. As everyone else in the world knows, the first thing you need to do is name it. I’m sure there is a logical reason for that, but I haven’t run across it yet. (Don’t tell me – I want to be surprised.)

They recommend something like ‘Cat’s Computer’. I did that with my Kindle. I cringe every time I download a book. I mean, seriously, for someone who has my vocabulary is that not the lamest excuse for a name?

So when my husband asked me what named I wanted to use (you don’t seriously think I set it up by myself do you?), I didn’t hesitate. I gave him the first name that came to mind: Edgar. As in Edgar Allan Poe. Not quite as weird as you may have thought.

Thought Break –

I was going to finish this post with a litany of various strange experiences Edgar and I have been having as a couple, but now I will just tell you what happened as I tried to write this.

I went to the Reader and chose New Post. Then Text. It’s my favorite format for typing. So I’m typing and things are going along fine. I got down to the paragraph that starts, “So when my husband…”, and I touched the wrong thing or got too close to the wrong thing or thought the wrong thing and it ate everything back to “Don’t tell me…”

I could hear it laughing. I have never met a piece of hardware that was this touchy. It took me a day to get used to the touchpad, but I’m still learning why the time keeps popping up. And why sometimes the down arrow moves the screen. And why sometimes the ‘mouse button’ and the side arrow move the screen. And why sometimes nothing at all will move the screen.

And most annoyingly, sometimes it will react when I get close to a key and sometimes I can double-click twice and not get a response.

So I thought I would show it who’s boss. I would type in Word and transfer it into WordPress. That way, I wouldn’t lose anything.

Anything except Word that is. I couldn’t find it in any of the usual places – Control Panel, system files, HELP!!! Luckily my teenage son walked in at the moment and immediately found it under Apps (of course). I knew there was a good reason for kids.

So here I am in Word 2013, discovering that – surprise! – Edgar is here too. Moving text without my permission, deleting things.

There is much, much more to tell you at a later date, but I’m going to post this now before the whole thing disappears. Assuming I can get it over to WordPress.

I hadn’t thought about it before – I wonder if the problems are related to naming it after Edgar Allan Poe?

4

Not Really Sure I Get this WordPress Thing

I’m not really sure how I ended up at this point in the world of blogdom. Last summer I was really bored. And as usual, more money would have been nice. So I went to Elance to see what types of freelancing jobs might be available. I didn’t really find much, except some writing work. I signed up, then realized I no longer had any portfolio of my work.

Yikes! It had been so long since I had done real business writing that if any of it had survived, it would be on a floppy disc. And the computer doesn’t have a floppy drive (and even I know that meant there wouldn’t be anything on the hard drive since it was a different computer). And I didn’t know where any of that stuff would be. And it was really hot. And I didn’t want to root through all of my ultra-unorganized piles.

So I had a brilliant idea. I would polish up my writing skills on a blog and create a new portfolio. One minor problem. I didn’t really know what a blog was. Or how to start one. So I went to Google and found WordPress. I have no idea why I chose it. It’s not at the top of the list. But its little write-up said it was easy to use. Sounded perfect. Did you know that on October 13, 2012, they counted 56.6 million blogs internationally on WordPress?

So I jumped in. Did I want to rent my own domain for greater control? Control of what? That would be a no for the moment.

What theme did I want? Looked through lots of them. It would have been a lot easier if I really knew what I wanted to write about.

What should I write about? Write about what you know. What do I know? Family? No. We’re way too private and not all that interesting. Being bipolar? No. I was stable, so there weren’t any current interesting stories. My religious studies? No. I’d been writing for that for years and it was way to intellectual to help me in the “real” world.

OK. Day-to-day life it was. Rats. Still no themes that struck me. There are not a lot of looks that scream over-educated stocker in retail store. I found something innocuous and went with it. Later I found this chocolate one. It’s a much better match for me.

How often do I write? Some say daily. Some say when inspiration hits you. It’s a discipline. It’s a hobby. Make sure however often you write to do it consistently so your followers can find you.

Followers? Who is going to want to read my attempts to get my writing skills back?

Personal Info? Family won’t want to be mentioned in detail. Nothing really exciting about me. Hmm. I still need to work on that. It’s only been eight months.

Who is my audience? Beats me. Obviously I haven’t thought this through very well. I had just wanted something that would keep track of what I was writing. You know, better than the floppy discs.

What widgets did I want? What’s a widget? I read all the descriptions. They were not particularly helpful.

What social media did I want to interface with? Ummm. Not exactly the queen of social media. Have I mentioned how introverted and private I am? Connected with Facebook and LinkedIn. Not really sure if it’s helping since I never have time to go on either.

OK. Let’s get started. Actually the writing wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be. But then there were new questions.

Who should I follow? How do they determine those “You Might Like” sites? Were the people on the Recommended List better than the others or more popular or did they know someone important?

What is Freshly Pressed? How does that happen?

Why couldn’t I really tell the difference between the “regular” bloggers and the “recommended” and the “freshly pressed”? I wandered around a little and decided to just let randomness happen.

So far, so good. The newest question is: do you want to grow your blog? I have no idea. From what I can tell, number of followers doesn’t really correlate to the quality of the blog. Guess I need to think more about that.

I love following as much as I love writing. I am learning so much.  I have humor, poetry, art, science, and intellectual stuff (and cat pictures of course). Maybe that’s why my “You Might Like” has gotten so eclectic.

By the way, thank you to anyone who’s been reading. If I know who you are, I have been to your site and probably picked up something (useful blog tips, not a disease).

So much for thinking. I need to go take a nap. Or cuddle with the cats. Oh yeah. Dinner for tomorrow.

7

Write What?

I have noticed that several bloggers have written that the only way to get good at writing is to write everyday, regardless of other commitments. In fact, Ned over at Ned’s Blog went so far as to say that those of us who do not should be spanked (http://nedhickson.com/2013/11/01/regular-writing-can-shape-your-literary-thighs/). While I think this advice has more to do with Ned’s personal preferences than serious advice, the underlying advice is sound. Fortunately, a few others were a little more specific. For example, the Dysfunctional Literate talks about writing on a variety of topics (http://dysfunctionalliteracy.com/2013/10/13/5-rules-for-writing-every-day/).

What no one tells me, though, is what to write about if I really don’t have anything interesting going on in my life. Looking around, I see that some people do short stories/novellas. Since most of my (limited) spare time is spent with literature (yes,that stuff you hated reading in high school) and magazines such as National Geographic and Smithsonian, I am going to guess that my tastes in reading/writing are probably not the key to gaining more readers.

There seem to be a lot of advice columns out there. I could probably do that if I really knew anything about anything. My brain is more like Trivial Pursuit –  lots of cool facts without a lot to tie them together. I guess that hasn’t really hurt some of the people I have seen in the newspapers.

There are a lot of cooking blogs. Unfortunately, most of my cooking comes from looking around the kitchen and seeing what we have. I don’t know what it will taste like until I’m done. When I’m done, I have no way to recreate it because I didn’t measure anything and don’t really remember what I put in. I worry that there might be some kind of legal issue if I accidentally poison a stranger (no, it hasn’t happened at home).

I could write about my family. Only problem is that the humans would quit speaking to me and the cats can’t be counted on to be amusing. I could write poetry, but it really stinks. I could make fun of current events, but most of them succeed just fine doing it themselves. Same for politics. I could write about travel, except I don’t go anywhere. I don’t do photography. I draw a little, but how many plant drawings would people want to look at?

I TOLD you I was boring. Now that I think about it – maybe that has some potential.