Posted on Monday, January 1st, 2018
I never get mad at my cats.
It doesn't matter what they do that's "bad," I can never bring myself to get upset at a cat for being a cat. My cats make that pretty easy. They're well-behaved, for the most part, and don't get into to much trouble. Now that they're grown, they never scratch at the furniture or pee on stuff or anything like that (so far, anyway)...
On occasion there are problems. One of them will get to a place they're not supposed to be and break something, for example. But... how can that be their fault? More likely my fault for not anticipating the problem and preventing it. If I'm mad at anybody, it should be me.
It occurred to me a while back that if I can't get mad at my cats, shouldn't I be able to translate that passivity to people?
The Trump presidency has caused a lot of anger in me this past year. His dangerous ignorance, utter stupidity, and inhuman ability to not give a crap about people he is supposed to be representing as president... it grates on me like nothing else ever has. I find myself consumed with rage on a near-daily basis because every day it's just more of the same horrendous shit raining down on the world from The White House. Or, more likely, whatever golf course President Trump is occupying this week.
As somebody who honestly believes that anger is more destructive on the person who has it rather than those it's directed at, I know this it not healthy. Not for me. Not for the people I care about. Not for my cats.
And so, after completely unplugging from the world for two weeks in Antarctica and becoming accustomed to not being angry every waking moment, I made myself a promise to try and be more pragmatic, caring, and less angry in the new year. To attempt to let my anger go and focus on positive things so that I can help be a solution instead of being part of the static that divides us.
And then... just as I was making my mind up, it happens. A tweet President Trump unleashed finds its way into my news cycle...
And see... here is why my "letting go" of my anger is so tough. When it comes to my new commitment to setting aside hatred, I've already failed the test. Because stupid-ass shit like this just reinforces how utterly brain-dead and dangerous this fucking asshole actually is for this country and the world, and I can't help but be angry about that.
He has no clue... none... what climate change entails, nor does he care. And yet he speaks as if he's an authority on the matter. This is the same idiot who thought that hairspray quality today isn't as good as it used to be because ozone-depleting CFCs have been banned from aerosols... the same CFCs that he said could never affect the ozone layer because his apartment is "all sealed."
And yet... here we are. And here I am. Right back to where I was in 2017.
There's more stupid-ass tweets to come, I'm sure. There always are. And that's not even the start of it. I'm sure he'll find a way to keep assaulting all the Americans he loathes in short order... the non-Christian Americans, the unhealthy Americans, the Mexican Americans, the gay Americans, the poor Americans... whatever... the list is never-ending. And that doesn't even touch crap like his assault on net-neutrality, something that I am beyond passionate about.
And so... what?
What to do with the torrents of overwhelming Trump-initiated anger that very nearly destroyed me in 2017?
I honestly don't know. I wish I could argue against his fucked-up agenda without getting so enraged about it, but that's something I'm apparently incapable of doing. President Trump is an affront to everything I care about.
And yet I have to try.
I have to do better in 2018.
I could never ignore what's going on in the world in order to make myself be happier. Ignorance just allows ignorance to propagate. But the same could be said for hate.
And so... a plan.
Easier said than done to be sure. But, as I said, I'm going to try. Finding more positive inspirations in my life that encourage me to make the jump will probably help...
And here we go...
Posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2018
There are times people ask me why I still have a blog. There are times I wonder myself why I keep Blogography going. The whole "blogging community" that seemed like it would last forever a decade ago has evaporated. Most of my blogging friends hung it up years ago or moved to Twitter or Facebook.
But not me.
It got to be a habit, it's still a habit, and there are still a lot of people visiting here (15 years of blog entries indexed by Google will do that).
I think, more than that though, is the nostalgia of what blogging once was that won't let go of me. I have met so many people because of this thing... many of whom have become dear offline friends. Blogging was family to me.
That's what makes it all worthwhile.
I am reeling this morning after learning that long-time blogging friend "Hot Coffee Girl," AKA Kelly, passed away. Such a kind and caring soul. And one who will be missed by many.
Once when I was in Chicago we met up to "Tilt" out the window of Hancock Tower in Chicago. As we were waiting for our ticket time, we stopped at a small juice bar at Hancock Plaza where Kelly proceeded to order a shot of wheat grass juice. This tiny little paper cup was filled with green sludge and cost a fortune, but she was totally loving it. And I was totally loving teasing her about it... which I did for years after.
I'm gutted that so many good friends met on the internet are now gone. Anissa, Lisa, Howard, Tracy, Rick... dear people all, each leaving a hole in our hearts. So glad I got to meet them in person, even though they became much more than a name on a computer monitor to me, even if we had never met at all.
Rest in peace, Hot Coffee Girl.
Posted on Wednesday, April 11th, 2018
Traveling with one blogger friend to meet up with another blogger friend has to be one of the better things to come out of the internet.
That so few bloggers are out there now is more than a little depressing to me.
Posted on Monday, April 23rd, 2018
As somebody who is passionate about world travel and the free exchange of ideas around the globe, today is a sad day for me. After years of hacking attacks on my blogs which result in dozens of lock-out notices being generated every day, I've just banned a huge chunk of IP addresses from access... including all of China, Russia, and goodly chunks of several other Asian countries that are currently on the blacklist maintained by Wizcrafts.
Will this stop hacking attempts? No. I'm sure plenty of hackers will use spoofing or VPN services to keep trying. That's part of the game, and I accept it. But, after my second malware exploit this year, I had to do something to try and make it more difficult for hackers to get through, and this was my last resort.
I get no pleasure from it.
Denying access to somebody in China or Russia who runs across Blogography in a Google search and has genuine interest in something I have to say goes against my entire reason for having a blog. But I've been left with little choice. Every time my site is exploited, it takes precious time I don't have to fix it. I either have to do my best to block these hacks before they happen... or shut down my blogs entirely.
So here we are.
As is always the case, the few are ruining things for the many.
Posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2018
I started paying for CBS All Access because it was the only way to watch Star Trek: Discovery. I kept paying so I could watch The Good Fight. In-between all that, I started re-watching episodes of 60 Minutes, a show I've never had much interest in until I found out that CBS All Access has nearly 200 episodes available for streaming. My biggest problem with the show is how they take interesting subjects and drag them out to the point of tedium. Which is why it's such a great show to have running as background noise while I work. I can safely ignore it while still absorbing relevant snippets.
Until something pops up that destroys my ability to ignore it.
While watching an old 60 Minutes segment on Bob Mankoff... cartoon editor of The New Yorker... there was a segment about cartoonists pitching their latest yucks to him. Most of the cartoons get rejected, but a few get through. Among them is a cartoon about Tarzan...
Mankoff: "The apes are saying 'We found you and raised you as one of us, so we were just wondering at what point did you learn to shave?"
Cartoonist: "I have researched this. There is no iteration of Tarzan in literature, comic books, or movies in which he has facial hair. It makes no sense!"
Doesn't make sense?
You don't have to be a Tarzan fan like me who has read all the books dozens of times to know this is 100% bullshit.
In the very first book... Tarzan of the Apes... the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel that started it all... the original Tarzan source for all the literature, comic books, and movies... it is explained that Tarzan started scraping the hair from his face because he understood he was a man, not an ape, and he was afraid of turning into an ape...
“But of these things Tarzan did not think. He was worried because he had not clothing to indicate to all the jungle folks that he was a man and not an ape, and grave doubt often entered his mind as to whether he might not yet become an ape.
Was not hair commencing to grow upon his face? All the apes had hair upon theirs but the black men were entirely hairless, with very few exceptions.
True, he had seen pictures in his books of men with great masses of hair upon lip and cheek and chin, but, nevertheless, Tarzan was afraid. Almost daily he whetted his keen knife and scraped and whittled at his young beard to eradicate this degrading emblem of apehood.
And so he learned to shave—rudely and painfully, it is true—but, nevertheless, effectively."
—Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes
Which begs the question... exactly how much "research" did this cartoonist do that he didn't run across the reason his cartoon is stupid? Apparently he didn't even read half-way through the first Tarzan book.
I wish I knew why crap like this pisses me off.
Is it because the cartoonist lied and obviously didn't research anything? Is it because I get sick and tired of Tarzan being continuously misrepresented? Who knows. I wish it didn't piss me off, because then I wouldn't have to stop working so I can blog about it.
Posted on Wednesday, July 11th, 2018
Blogography may be screwed up for a bit, but I'm still blogging!
After twelve years of suffering through my current web hosting provider, I'm moving to greener pastures.
When I first investigates Media Temple, they were more expensive than others, but billed themselves as a "pro" solution and were hosting some of the biggest sites on the internet. I figured the extra money would be worth it, and signed up.
And, for a while, I think it was worth it. They offered tools and goodies that most others were not, and their support was very good. I didn't like my annual bill, but I liked everything else.
Then they moved to a new "grid" architecture, and it sucked ass. Basic stuff like... oh... I dunno... SITE BACKUPS were gone. Downtime was rampant (and they never felt like reimbursing you for the time your site wasn't available). But they kept promising that they were working out the kinks and that the missing tools would be restored, so I stuck with them.
After two years, things stabilized. Downtime was still happening, but it was okay for a personal blog. And then? That was it. They just coasted along and nothing changed. And that backup tool? Oh... it's still coming!
A decade passes and I'm still fucking waiting.
I stuck around despite it all because I didn't want the hassle of moving. The thought of losing emails in the transfer was always a big deterrent.
And then? I kept getting hacked. I installed protection, which helped, but the attacks never let up. My hosting company doesn't offer any help in this arena what-so-ever (knowledge-base articles didn't much help), and so I've been attempting to handle it on my own. As I'm working on it, my "GPU" points ran out, and so I had to pay for overages... $38 for last month alone... in order to cover my backups and blog hits. $38 I can't afford.
And so I wrote to support from Media Temple.
After the bullshit canned answers I've come to expect, I couldn't take it another minute. Twelve fucking years as a customer, and they don't give a shit about me. No "Hey, sorry you're having problems we don't offer tools to deal with, so let us reimburse you the $38 as you're working through things because we value you as a customer!" Not even close. And so? They can just fuck all the way off. I'm moving to a new hosting company that may or may not be better, but at least I'm not paying a premium to host there... and, oh... THEY OFFER FUCKING BACKUP OF MY SITE AUTOMATICALLY!!!
A few things I've learned through all this...
Posted on Thursday, July 12th, 2018
Posted on Wednesday, August 29th, 2018
Back in April, I had my 15th blogiversary. And I totally forgot about it.
I don't know that I would have done anything special to celebrate putting my life on the internet for fifteen years... not like the old days where there were a week of contests and travel involved... but it would have been nice to at least acknowledge it. I guess that writing every day has become so automatic that I don't even think about it any more.
It feels more than a little strange that I keep it up considering how blogs are pretty much dead now. People are Facebookers or Instagrammers or YouTubers... but so rarely "bloggers." At least not any more. Social networks are owned by massive conglomerates who have displaced blogging with money-making machines that exploit our lives for cash. As was inevitable, I guess. That's just the way our world works. And I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. Centralized spaces for human interaction make it easier and more convenient to make friends around the globe, and I do love my global online community. But there's still room for blogging in my life so here's to another fifteen years, I guess.
All those cat photos have to go somewhere.
Anyway... if you want to read a history of Blogography, I wrote it up back in 2005 for my second blogiversary here.
Posted on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018
I'm not sure why I'm still blogging. Most bloggers have hung it up or have happily moved on to social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I'm just stubborn, probably. I've been doing this for so long (over 15 years!) that I don't know anything else.
And so long as I'm here...
Blogs may be dead, but those of us still hanging around are facing a lot of interesting changes. Changes in the way content is created. Changes in the way content is used. Changes in the way content is displayed. Which means bloggers are faced with two options... keep doing what they've been doing, or change with the times.
Wordpress (the blogging platform I use) is pushing hard for change. And the first step is coming November with Wordpress 5.0 and their new content editor... Gutenberg. It will allow for a lot of interesting new ways to create and display content. Whether or not users will take advantage of this is anybody's guess...
The templates used for Blogography's design are hand-coded to look like I wanted them to appear. For me to be able to display content properly from the Gutenberg editor and the new Wordpress "block-based" rendering engine (now and in the future) everything will have to be re-coded. I honestly don't know if I can invest the kind of time required... but hopefully.
Time to change with the times.
Posted on Monday, October 29th, 2018
First of all...
I wish I could say that I never doubted... but there were definitely some moments! That third game? EIGHTEEN INNINGS loss to The Dodgers? Brutal. And I watched the entire thing from beginning to end while holding my breath. Last night was easier, but I was still a bit anxious all the way through. This is baseball, after all.
Blogography has never been a money-making endeavor. Even when I sold stuff it was always at-cost, which usually meant I lost money in the end. Nope, this is just a place to write my thoughts of the day and I never wanted to clutter it up with ads and other crap.
But that hasn't stopped people from trying to advertise here.
For a while there, I had a Google Page Rank of 7 out of 10. This is about as good as it can possibly get for a personal blog (8 and higher means you're a massively popular site like Apple or YouTube). Despite saying that I don't want ads unless you're willing to pay an obscene amount of money on my About Page, I was getting advertising requests several times a week. Vitamin supplements, clothing, vacation packages, makeup, cameras... even other blogs. I very nearly buckled when I got an offer of $1800 for six months... but it was for a sketchy online gambling site, so I declined.
Over the years my Google traffic has remained fairly good, but my Page Rank has plummeted to 5. When I read up on what this means, I found that it's because I am not using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and am not actively building link-backs. Oh well. The benefit of a lower rank means that people stopped bothering me for ads, so there was a silver lining to all of it.
Then, as the internet turned into a social media machine instead of being blog-driven, Google Page Rank fell out of favor with advertisers. Sure it's still kinda a big deal if you're trying to make money... Page Rank says where you'll end up in a Google search, after all. But since social media is so huge and bypasses Google's ranking system, it's not the indicator of a website's draw power (especially blogs) like it used to be.
This little blog has been around for a very long time, is updated constantly, has a massive amount of content, and has hugely diverse number of topics (seriously, is there anything I won't write about?). On top of that, it currently has 105,483 backlinks and 1,428 referring domains. Which is nothing to sneeze at. Which is why I still occasionally get advertising offers. Like this one, which was waiting for me when I checked my email this morning...
Another sketchy gambling site, I'm sure.
Maybe... maybe... I would run an ad luring people to lose all their money if I were offered $10,000 annually. Maybe even $5,000 if I get another vet bill (STAY HEALTHY, JAKE!). But I'm not quite that desperate... yet.
Maybe I should be?
I dunno. If you ever see an ad on my blog, I haven't necessarily sold out or given up. It's just that I need the cash and my body ain't pulling on the street corner like it used to.
Posted on Monday, December 10th, 2018
Today was the day I switched to my new WordPress 5 template for Blogography!
Then, after three hours of trying to make it work, I switched back to my old template again!
I don't know why I am having so much trouble getting what I want. It's really not that difficult to code these things. Especially when you are starting from an existing template (which I am) because you are woefully inept at coding a "responsive" site (which I also am). I'd skip all this and go back to coding what I know, but being "responsive" is a huge part of why I'm doing all this in the first place.
"Responsive" meaning that Blogography will be responsive to how you're viewing it and adapt accordingly. If you're in a web browser with a lot of screen real estate, you'll get an expansive experience with sidebars and menus and such. But if you're surfing on a smaller device, like your phone, it will automatically become more text-based so that it's easier to read. That's key, because an increasing amount of my traffic is from mobile devices. Eventually I expect it will overtake desktop browsers as the main way that people are reading my crap.
Hence the reason I'm switching over.
When I can figure out what in the hell I'm doing.
Which, hopefully, will be before my 16th blogiversary in April.
In the meanwhile I've put a sticky post at the top of my home page to explain why things might look messed up for a while.
Posted on Friday, December 14th, 2018
If Facebook has a redeeming quality, it's their "Memories" feature where they give you a run-down of what you were doing on this day a year ago... two years ago... three years ago... and so on.
Well, kinda redeeming. I find that much of the time there's at least one painful memory which you'd just as soon not re-live, but that's life I guess. In general, it's a good thing though.
And that got me to thinking...
I should be able to do something like that for my blog!
I started writing out the code I would need, then remembered that there's nothing new with WordPress, and surely somebody else had already done this. Sure enough, there's a bunch of plugins available.
Alas, none of them work for me.
And so... I'm back to coding.
How else would you know that a year ago today I was returning from my Antarctica trip?
Or two years ago I was wishing you a Happy World Monkey Day?
Or five years ago I was saying goodbye to Peter O'Toole?
Or twelve years ago I accidentally smacked myself in the balls with a shampoo bottle?
Heaven only knows your life isn't complete without reading all about that!
Posted on Monday, December 31st, 2018
For those who only read one of my posts each year... or anybody wanting a recap of the past year here at Blogography... this post is for you! As customary, I've jettisoned loads of the usual junk so this entry is "mostly crap" instead of the "total crap" they usually are.
As you can imagine, 2018 was the worst year of my life so far. Just surviving it feels like a major accomplishment. All I can do is hope that 2019 is better.
• Found out that Google thinks I look like Ryan Reynolds when I have the right haircut...
• Another year, another traumatic trip to the vet for Jake and Jenny...
• Saw the best movie of 2018: Black Panther.
• Finally bought into the SONOS smart speaker ecosystem...
• Said good bye to long-time blogging friend Kelly "Hot Coffee Girl."
• Took my new macro lens to The Keukenhof in the Netherlands...
Another day of Keukenhof wonderment at macro level...
• Finally made it to lovely Budapest...
• Finally made it to lovely Vienna...
• Returned to St. Louis and its Gateway Arch...
• Headed to Jefferson City to hunt ghosts at the old Missouri State Penitentiary with Coal Miner's Granddaughter and the Tennessee Wraith Chasers...
• Jake gets a new favorite toy...
• Saw another amazing P!NK show in Seattle...
• Had to rescue another bird from my savage kittehs...
• Started organizing my souvenirs from around the world...
• Spent my weekend building a flower bed in my front yard...
• Remembered my many travels with mom...
• Took a look back and wrote about The Elephant Out the Window...
• Wrote about finding inspiration amongst the heart-crushing tragedy of dementia...
• Another trip to Maine... this time with a torrential flood of rain.
• Installed a mesh network with Google WiFi.
• Remembered back to the AIDS crisis, which wasn't that long ago.
• Flew to Salt Lake City to catch a show by The B-52's, Boy George, and Tom Bailey with Marty from Banal Leakage...
• Wrote an obituary and buried my mom when her marker finally arrived from the VA...
• Was gutted when Jake got seriously ill...
• Had to make a short one-day trip to Hawaii and back...
• THE RED SOX WIN THE PENNANT! THE RED SOX WIN THE PENNANT!
• Was forced to remodel my remodel.
• Remembered my trip to Antarctica on my one year travelversary...
• Happy birthday, Mom...
And there you have it... my 2018 year in review.
Thanks once again to my cats, family, and friends for making life bearable through the not-so-great times.
Here's to a better 2019, everybody.