Post 3000

post-3000Clockwise from upper left:  The current blog’s dashboard; the original blogspot Out & About; the current Out & About at; the now retired–but still readable–house blog.

I’ve written 3000 blog posts for this blog.  Three thousand posts!  This blog started as kind of a lark.  I was writing the house blog, which I started because we bought the house and I thought it would be a good way to not only keep track of what we were up to, but also a good way to loop in Matt’s side of the family, who live far away.  I soon found I wanted to make blog posts about unrelated things and so I made my own blog.

I didn’t do any sort of introductory post. I just launched.  In fact, the first post, is fairly typical of many of the posts to come.  I was grumpy.  I wrote about it.  The next post included song lyrics and my memories of the song.  The third post was an installment of the (now abandoned) Bike Project.  The fourth included ample quotes from a book I had just finished reading. (Which are still really good quotes and worth reading.)  I wrote four posts in the first month.

And that’s kind of what I still do today, except there are many more posts per month.  I write book reviews. (First listed 11/2/07 Things I read, started to read and didn’t finish in October). I write three sentence movie reviews. (First one 2/7/08 Charlie Wilson’s War). I report on various projects.  I wander around my life and take pictures of particular things. (First one 7/22/07 Porch Conundrum).  I write essays. (First tagged 1/5/12 My Secret Resolution).

From May 2007 to December 2014 I used blogspot as a platform.  After that I bought my own domain name and tried using Squarespace.  I found it didn’t work well for blogging and moved things over to WordPress.  Sadly, in the move I  now have a range of posts without pictures.  Someday I will put those back.

Blogging is fun for me.  I kept a journal for many years, until my life became undramatic and there wasn’t much to write about.  But blogging fills the journal niche.  I rarely look back, but when I do, I usually find something that’s fun to remember, or something I don’t remember at all. Like (randomly) The time I got to tour the Art House, after chronicling the building process. Or when I didn’t like the movie Lincoln (this is one of those posts that needs its pictures put back). Or that time I reported on book check-out receipts I found in my library book.

Blogging is also work. For many of my years blogging, I’ve often been behind, sometimes several months behind. In fact, I’m writing this post in November, not September. (Though I set it up in January, not wanting to miss the day I would hit post 3000). The only time I wasn’t behind was the year I had the volunteer gig where I hosted teens in the library computer lab for two hours per week.  Very few teens showed up, so that gave me two solid hours per week of blogging. Once that went away, I slipped behind again, and it’s gotten worse with the return to the 40-hour work week.  But even when I’m behind, blogging is something that I still want to make time for doing.  So I do.

I love comments.  I cannot lie.  Comments are the most awesome thing.  Mostly, I write these posts for myself.  But I dream someday of having more than two people comment on a regular basis.  And maybe having random somebodies comments.  My blog hasn’t grown into that kind of blog, but that means that the comments I do get are that much more wonderful.  So if you are a reader and have commented, thank you.  I really appreciate it.

Onto selected favorites in each category:

Books (221 posts):
Boise Public Library!
From individual reviews in 2007, to monthly review posts beginning in 2008 (the year I discovered Goodreads) I write a lot about other people’s writing.  But the post I’m featuring was from 2013, when I went to Boise for my 20th High School Reunion.  I went back to the place that made me a reader and delighted in the details and the memories.

CT Film Festival (45 posts):
Plan Your Own Channing Tatum Film Festival
In 2007, I had no idea I would fall in love with Channing Tatum.  (“It’s a pure and true love,” a friend said once about my obsession).  I had no idea I was going to watch every movie he had ever been in.  I had no idea I would be quoted on a podcast about the CT Film Festival post being “a bit disturbing,” a comment which cracked me up. The video store clerk saying, “Are you the lady who is watching all of Channing Tatum films?” was still in my future. No, I had no idea this was coming at all. I analyzed my obsession in this post, but mostly I have just bowed to the inevitable. When Channing Tatum appears in a movie, I must watch that movie. Usually in the theater.  Often on opening weekend.

Mail (198 posts):
Postcard from Singapore
Postcrossing was something I discovered a few years ago.  Participating has meant that I have sent and received postcards all over the world.   In one case, a postcard sent has meant a blogging friendship with Kathleen. (I’ll start reading your blog again soon, Kathleen.  But in the interim, I’ve loved keeping up with you on Instagram.)  When it seems like the world is a terrible place, receiving a friendly postcard from the other side of the world is maybe one of the best things about my day.  Which is why I need to find time to start Postcrossing again soon.

Music (45 posts):
Power Ballads, A Blog Post
Music is something that fell by the wayside as I entered adulthood and I’m still working my way back to it.  The Song of the Month posts help.  But most of my music posts are about music I listened to growing up.  Like the above retrospective of a time when bands could really write a ballad.  And wear some amazing clothes while performing it.

Structures (451 posts):
Comparison Contrast two houses on Belmont Street
I love looking at buildings and houses.  Love it.  Hence the incredible number of posts about buildings and houses.  I enjoyed writing this post because it not only got into the nitty-gritty details of two houses, but it also let me use for some research, which was fun.

Three sentence movie reviews (788 posts):
It’s Complicated
With this many posts to choose from I was a little stuck as to which to feature.  I went with this movie, not so much because I think it’s a fabulous review, but mostly because of the long aside sanctioned by the asterisk.  Knowing my propensity to use many words, I wisely put a sentence limit on my reviews.  But I do enjoy going around that limitation.

To Occupy My Time (1223 posts):
Egg Puff
This is a catch-all category. 65 different tags feed into it. In the WordPress dashboard, there are 62 pages listing posts that chronicle things that occupied my time.  I picked one randomly from page 42.  Then I linked to the blogspot version of it because the current blog has no photos.  If you are looking for a quick dinner, Egg Puff is your friend.

Writing (90 posts):
It turns out I have very strong feelings about the movie the Notebook
This essay still amuses me because I still feel very strongly about that movie.  I hate to harsh on the Notebook-loving public’s mellow, but that is a terrible and creepy film.

So that’s it.  3000 posts.  Good job me.

Essay: Blogging on Squarespace. A report from the first month.

I’d heard the ads (they have been a regular sponsor of Filmspotting and other podcasts I listen to) and was feeling constrained by the design features of blogspot so at the end of 2014 I took the plunge and switched from blogspot to Squarespace.  Here’s how it’s been.

Blogger is an excellent blogging platform.  It’s free, it’s intuitive, it gets the blogging job done.  The main thing I didn’t like was the inability to manipulate the layout.  Photos remain the same size, text can only go above and below etc.  Also, I wanted my own domain name.  (Which actually, I think you can do with blogger, it just costs money and takes a little work.)

Here’s what I like about Squarespace. 

Their customer service is fabulous.  If you can’t find what you want in their help site, you can open a ticket and someone will respond.  I’ve opened many a ticket and the responses come within a few hours and are nearly always excellent, even if they are telling me something I don’t want to know.  If every company had the level of customer service Squarespace does, the world would be a much happier place.

The design features are impressive.  They have multiple templates and each template can be customized.  In my initial research, I was concerned that my blog would end up looking way too iBlog.  I’m not a fan of the minimalist Mac aesthetic.  But it was very easy to manipulate the design templates and recast the stark white background in a soothing orange.

I can push content to separate pages.  I’ve been feeling lately that my blog is too varied in content and that perhaps if I just had a blog featuring, say, Three Sentence Movie Reviews, I would attract more regular readers.  I didn’t really want to break everything up and transfer some posts but not others.  Squarespace had the solution.  I can tag posts as “categories” and it will publish those category posts as part of the regular blog, but also publish them on a page I’ve created and dedicated just to that content. No longer will the book people have to wade through all the pictures of buildings to find the book posts.  Same for the movies reviews.  Same for the Channing Tatum Film Festival.

It’s really inexpensive. For less than $90.00 I got a custom domain and a year of web hosting.  For the amount of time I spend blogging that is a sweet deal.

So here’s the downside.  Blogging in Squarespace is very much a beta experience. 

Transferring from blogger.  I imported 2200 posts, which, one of the customer service representatives to me was far more than she or anyone working had ever heard transferred.  There was some trouble transferring that took about a week to resolve.  In the end what worked was switching browsers (it didn’t work in Chrome and did work in Explorer).  But when the posts did come, the tags did not fully arrive.  I can see them, but they do not show up in a tag cloud.  I’ve been told this is a known issue and I wish I would have known about this issue before I transferred.  It would have given me pause.  Supposedly it will be fixed.

Basic blogging features are not available.  For instance, you cannot add anything to the page with the blog.  A blog page just gets to keep on being a blog page, there’s no way to add a search bar or a list of archived posts.  I’ve added these on the About page, but I find it very annoying to have to go to a separate page just to search the blog.

In addition, the archives feature does not give you a list of posts published in the month.  It instead takes you to the last post of the month so you can scroll back through the month.  As a person with 20-30 posts each month, I need to see the names of the post in each month.  There is no fix for this right now.  Acutally, the suggested fix was to go back and tag every post with the month and the year and I said “NO WAY” to that.  The posts are already published by date.  There should be a way to feed the titles of the posts into a true archive feature.

You can only load one photo at a time.  Loading photos now involves a lot of deep breathing on my part.  Load one photo.  Breathe a few times.  Load another photo.  Breathe again.  Some posts have 20 or so pictures and this is a substantial increase in time commitment.  I would like to select all 20 photos, hit an upload button and then work on something else while they upload.

I can’t set features like single spacing, or defaulting to middle justified.  Both are driving me crazy.  Sometimes we don’t want a double space.  I can make it single space by hitting <shift>+<enter> but I just want to single space naturally.  And mostly I middle justify. I don’t want to have to set that with every text block.

Here’s how I blog.  Once per week I upload all my pictures to the blog, set up my posts, and save them as drafts.  Then I can go back at my leisure and write and edit the posts.  In Squarespace I am unable to set the published dates.  I can schedule future posts, but I cannot schedule past dates.  When I’m ready to post, I have to save and publish, then go back to settings and change the date.  This is a massive pain and I would prefer to set my dates as I set up my posts.

Squarespace gives you a choice of bold or italic.  You cannot choose bold AND italic.  And why not?  There’s just some times you need both.

Finally, when someone comments and the comments are emailed to me, the email tells me the name of the post the person is commenting about.  This is good.  However, I would prefer that the name of the post listed in the comment email also be linked to that post.  This is because I often answer questions asked by my commenters, and it’s easier to just click on a link rather than searching for the post.

So it’s been a rough transition.  I’m not totally happy yet.  I’m giving it a year to see if their blogging features improve, but if they don’t I may search around for a different home next fall and do another transfer at the end of the year.  I hope not though.  I’d like to stay here.

Hello From Future Me!

It’s me, your trusty blog author, writing from the far future of September 8, 2013.  Things are good here, but there are still no flying cars.  I’m here to tell you that the next month or so will be very busy, what with finishing up the uniform project and getting ready for school to start.  So this blog will be static for the next little while.  But that just means there will be a glut of catch-up posts in September.

Also, on September 8, you will change the format of the blog which will hopefully make it easier for people to comment.  That design you have now is sleek and everything, but I know you hate that it’s even hard for you, the blog author, to comment.  The new template will be much better, in that regard and also ORANGE!

So keep your head up.  There is much work to do.  But September 7 will be a very relaxing day.  Just keep breathing.

Catching up post.

Oops. I published the end of May posts before I finished some posts that came at the end of May. Make sure you haven’t missed the following:

Vancouver Lake Bike Ride, May 28.
Three sentence movie reviews: Hanna (a second viewing), May 29.
Early Morning Bike Ride, May 29.
Highlights from Dead Relatives Tour 2011, May 29.
Excepting vs. Accepting, May 29.
The picture-less and I’m giving up Catherine Creek post, May 30.

Resolution 2011

My resolutions for 2011 are in two realms: the food realm and the physical realm.

In the food realm, I want to prepare vegetables at least four times per week. I need a variety of vegetables to keep myself healthy and, due to the lack of a staff, need to prepare them myself. So, each week I shop, I will purchase four different kinds of vegetables in proper quantities (see below) and get them ready to eat throughout the week. I’ve actually been doing this since November and it is going pretty well, though I think four times to week doesn’t happen as often as I think it does.

In addition, I will strive to cook food in quantities that I can eat before it turns and must be thrown out. To do this, I have made a few lists and posted them on the fridge. The first list is “Things to Prepare” where I write down what I have bought that needs to be made into something before it goes bad. I also note the date I bought it, which will spur me into a frenzy of preparation when too much time has passed. I also have a list called “Things to Eat” where I write down what there is to eat and cross it out as I finish it. This will help me keep my eye on when I have forgotten the last bit of Lima beans in the refrigerator. I can then dig them out and eat them before I have to throw it out.

I have a notebook to keep track of what I have prepared this week. This will let me see my progress, track the food I throw out and be able to determine how many pounds of beans I eat in one year. I will also mark my calendar with an F when I do something food related and a V when I cook a vegetable.

In the physical realm, I will do more push ups this year. I enjoy a good push up or two (or ten) and I would like to increase the number of push ups to at least my age, if not more. I’ll start with the number I can currently easily do and add one whenever I feel like can hack it. The time to do them will be before I stretch after doing my jog/walk each morning and I will keep track on my trusty calendar.

You’ve caught up your blog. Now what?

I’ve received the following email from one of my regular readers:

Dear Patricia You’ve now caught up your blogs. Well done! I’ve enjoyed reading all the interesting observations you have about the world but I’m curious, how will you keep your blog caught up? Won’t you just fall back into your slatternly habits? Do shed some insight into your plan.

A faithful reader*

Dear faithful reader,

I’m glad you asked, as I’ve been planning a blog post about this since before I finished catching up the blog. Your timely email has propelled me forward to actually write it.

Here’s the plan:

First off: I have a specific time (and a back up time) planned weekly to do basic set up for the blog. The official time is Saturday morning post-run/pre-8:00 gym class. That block of time usually gives me 45 minutes to an hour to do the Blog Blessing Hour. More on that below. The backup time is Sunday from when I haul myself out of bed to before I go to church. Having a scheduled time each week to get things in order helps tremendously.

The Blog Blessing Hour. This is an adaptation of the FlyLady’s Weekly Home Blessing Hour in which you spend an hour once per week and get your house in reasonable shape. My Blog Blessing Hour (written down and posted next to my computer) is as follows:

  1. Update books read, post to Goodreads
  2. Update movie posts
  3. On camera, delete all bad pictures
  4. Upload pictures to archive
  5. Rotate pictures the right way
  6. Copy select pictures to the “to print” folder
  7. Copy pictures to blog folder
  8. Erase photos from camera
  9. In blog folder, open with picture manager
  10. Compress all photos
  11. Rename
  12. Put pictures in blogger

It looks like a lot of work, but each step takes a few minutes. Except for the renaming of photos. That can be rather lengthy if an event has happened during the week. Before I was caught up and had this handy list, I would delay doing all of these steps for months. Trying to catch up the reading posts and cross reference it with the Goodreads stuff alone drove me crazy. Plus, I was often afraid to post things because I wasn’t sure if all the movie posts were in their right place and I like to publish in order.

Yes indeed, those of you who think my anal-retentive nature might be hindering my ability to get anything published and contributing to the huge backup are correct. It totally did. But now that I have a weekly list of tasks, I know finish the weekly Blog Blessing Hour with a list of posts IN ORDER to write and publish. All the pictures are in a named post with the right date, all the movies are caught up and in their place and the book post doesn’t get totally out of control. During the week I can spend fifteen minutes here or there writing the posts and then editing and publishing them.

Combined with the above I have two hard and fast rules:

1) Do the Blog Blessing Hour every week or, at the very least–and rarely–every two weeks.
2) If a post is in draft form and is over one month old you have not made this post a priority and I MUST DELETE IT.

Because I don’t ever want to not post a post I had intended to post, hopefully the draconian rule number two will keep me on the up and up.

And that, dear reader, is the plan. Keep reading and see if it works.

*The above letter was entirely made up by Patricia. It was manufactured so she could write a blog post about how she intends to keep her blog caught up. She never has anyone email her with questions about her blog, though she would be happy to answer them if she did.

What now?

So I’m still not caught up, what now? Now I will publish one post per day until I have caught up to present day. I’ve just placed all of September’s pictures into draft posts. I’ve made sure all the movies are listed. I’m ready to whiz through these….Shoot. I’ve got 16 posts in September on this blog alone. Never mind. I’m going to try and do two per day. Or a bunch on weekends. My oh-so-free weekends.

162 posts completed and published since August 20. That’s approximately 4 posts per day, which is a huge effort. Good job me.