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Do you like the way I look?

I’ve been blogging on WordPress for a little over a year and I’ve had this theme, the Choco theme, since the beginning of December. Before that, I was using the Delicacy theme, one that self-describes as a “culinary-oriented WordPress theme.” In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am not a culinary-oriented blogger.

Prior to switching from the Delicacy theme to this Choco theme, I created one of those polls so that my readers could give me feedback. But at the time, I didn’t have many followers or readers. In fact, I averaged only 5.4 views a day for the first five months of my WordPress blog.

And when I conducted my poll back on December 3rd, I received a total of four votes. Three out of the four voters recommended switching to Choco. And so, with such an overwhelming mandate from the voters, I made the switch.

Just for grins and giggles, I went back to that post from December 3rd and saw that four more votes came in since I last checked the tally. Here’s where that December votes stands as of today:

  • 50% voted for “Switch to Choco. Time to shake things up a bit.”
  • 25% voted for “I don’t care. What matters is your content, not your appearance.”
  • 25% voted for “Stick with Delicacy. It’s you. Why rock the boat?

So even with the late arriving absentee votes, half voted to switch. And switch I did.

Fast forward to almost August. I’ve been thinking once again about a makeover. A little nip here, a little tuck there. You know, to keep things fresh and vibrant.

But, at the same time, I like my Choco theme. It’s relatively clean, easy to read (I think), and it doesn’t overwhelm. At least I don’t think it does.

So I decided that it’s time to, once again, put it to a vote, although this time, I don’t have a replacement theme in mind.

My post today includes a multiple choice poll asking you, my loyal readers, if you think I should stick with Choco or switch to some other theme.

After all, now that I’m averaging close to 200 views a day — woohoo — I’m hoping to get more than a handful of votes.

So here’s the poll:

As a special bonus, I’m also going to ask an essay question:

What is your favorite WordPress theme and why?

Please respond to this essay question in your comments.

Thanks. I’m looking forward to your input. Remember, vote early and vote often!


Please note, the owner of this blog reserves the right to totally ignore the results of this vote and to do whatever the flock he pleases, including doing nothing at all.

 
33 Comments

Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Blogging

 

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Shelter from the storm

Today’s Daily Prompt:

It was sunny when you left home, so you didn’t take an umbrella. An hour later, you’re caught in a torrential downpour. You run into the first store you can find — it happens to be a dark, slightly shabby antique store, full of old artifacts, books, and dust. The shop’s ancient proprietor walks out of the back room to greet you. Tell us what happens next!


antiques_shop_by_honest_style-d58o5li“You poor man,” the old guy said as he walked out from behind a colorful, glass-beaded curtain that separated the front of the antique shop from the private area behind it. “You’re soaking wet.”

He looked quite old but seemed spry for a man his age. His head was totally bald and he wore thick, dark, over-sized glasses framing his bright and inquisitive eyes. His conservative, dark gray suit was offset by a large, bright red bow tie.

There was something strangely familiar about him but I couldn’t put my finger on it. “Let me get a towel,” he offered, and he swiftly disappeared again behind the beaded curtain.

The air in the antique shop smelled musty…or was that me in my damp clothing? The lighting was dim and even thought a large window graced the front of the shop, the dark, storm clouds outside gave the store an even gloomier feel.

The interior was cluttered and totally disorganized, with narrow aisles that made it a challenge to not knock into some of the piled up bric-a-brac as I walked around the store.

I was beginning to think the old man had forgotten about me but then he emerged from behind the curtain of beads with a large bath towel. He draped it over my shoulder and invited me to join him in the back room.

“Come,” he said, pointing me toward the beaded curtain. “I have an old, wood-burning stove back there that will take the chill off of you and help dry your damp clothes.”

With a little trepidation, I followed the old man into the back room, which was as dimly lit as the front of the store, the only light coming from what appeared to be an electrified, antique oil lamp sitting on the corner of a large, ornate, Edwardian-period desk that was set against the wall separating the back room from the front of the shop.

On top of desk, next to the lamp, was a laptop computer, which gave off a bluish glow. And in the far corner was the wood-burning, pot-bellied stove. He shoved me over toward it and the comforting warmth it gave off.

“You’ve never been in my shop before, have you?” he asked after a few moments of silence.

“I don’t believe so,” I responded. “I got caught in that downpour and yours was the closest place in which I could take haven when the skies opened up.”

“Do you collect antiques?” he asked.

“No, not really. I live in a loft condo in SOMA and it’s a contemporary building.”

“I see,” he said with a knowing look. “So you’re a thoroughly modern man.”

“Yeah, I suppose so,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.

“Ah, then I might have something you’ll find of interest out back in my alley. I think the rain storm has passed,” he announced. “Please, follow me.”

Intrigued, I wondered what this old antiques dealer could possibly have behind his store that would be of interest to me. I stepped out of the back door and into the alley and was momentarily blinded by the sunlight that had emerged from between the broken clouds.

And then I saw it. A large, old bus and next to it was the old man dancing a jig and singing, “More flags, more fun!”

dancing six flags man

 
19 Comments

Posted by on July 28, 2014 in Blogging

 

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It’s all about senior discounts

Today’s Daily Prompt suggests that “Age is just a number.” But it then asks, “Is it a number you care about, or one you tend (or try) to ignore?”

Senior_Discount_LogoIn some cases “the number” is 55. More often than not, though, it’s 62 or 65. But whatever “the number” happens to be, the important thing is that when you reach it, you can start to get those well-deserved senior discounts.

I can, for example, ride the Muni, San Francisco’s vast bus system, which can get me virtually anywhere in the city, for only 75¢ (as opposed to $2.00 for younger riders).

I get a couple of bucks off the price of movie tickets. I have a Senior Pass for America’s National Parks that gets me past the gates for free. I get “senior rates” at hotels. There are even special airfares for seniors.

I’m sure there are other senior discounts that are out there that I’ve forgotten to mention or haven’t yet taken advantage of. But as someone who has managed to cheat death for a number of years, I feel that I’m deserving of any and all of the discounts that are thrown my way.

And best of all, I’m in relatively good health. Oh yeah, I have my share of minor aches and pains that come naturally with age. But overall, I am not having to deal with any debilitating or disabling conditions, my mind still functions effectively (most of the time), and I am living independently. I even still hold down a full-time job!

And as long as this continues to be the case, age is just a number.

But it’s an especially good number after you’ve reached the age at which all kinds of senior discounts are available.

 
18 Comments

Posted by on July 27, 2014 in Blogging

 

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What?

question-marks-pictureThis is really strange. The prompt for this weeks Stream of Consciousness Saturday post is:

End your post with a question. Extra points if you fit an exclamation mark somewhere in the body of your post.

That is the strangest prompt I’ve ever seen!

End your post with a question?

I mean seriously, what kind of crazy prompt is that?

Who would respond to such a prompt?

Is this really the last Saturday in July?

Already?

 
21 Comments

Posted by on July 26, 2014 in Blogging

 

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America makes no sense

America Album CoverOkay, don’t call out the National Guard. I’m not talking about America the country in which I live. I’m talking about the 70s pop-rock band called “America.”

You remember America, right? Oh sure you do. Some of their best known songs are “A Horse with No Name,” “Sister Golden Hair,” “Ventura Highway,” “Tin Man,” “Sandman,” “Daisy Jane,” and “Lonely People.” Now you remember, right?

I loved the sound of America. The voices of the three singers blended beautifully and their music was light and airy. I would listen to their songs, close my eyes, and just sort of float away. Not while I was driving, of course.

And speaking about driving, I was listening to my iTunes on shuffle during my cross-country drive last week and a number of America’s songs played.

As I listened to the lyrics of some of their songs, I was amazed at how they made no sense whatsoever. It was almost as if they were just choosing random words and putting them together in order to make things rhyme.

For example, in the song “Tin Man,” the lyrics include classic, poetic lines such as:

Sometimes late when things are real
And people share the gift of gab between themselves
Some are quick to take the bait
And catch the perfect prize that waits among the shelves

But Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn’t, didn’t already have
And Cause never was the reason for the evening
Or the tropic of Sir Galahad.

Seriously, what the hell does any of that mean? And then I listened to the chorus:

So please believe in me
When I say I’m spinning round, round, round, round
Smoke glass stain bright color
Image going down, down, down, down
Soapsuds green like bubbles

No doubt these guys were trippin’ their asses off when they wrote the lyrics to this song.

But it’s not just that song. How about the lyrics to “A Horse with No Name”?

On the first part of the journey
I was looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
And the sky with no clouds
The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound

And then there’s this repeated line:

In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain

“Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain? Really?

Lyrics to “Sandman” include this catchy refrain:

I understand you’ve been running from the man
That goes by the name of the Sandman
He flies the sky like an eagle in the eye
Of a hurricane that’s abandoned

They even wrote a song about two romantic muskrats titled “Muskrat Love.” The lyrics go:

Muskrat Susie, Muskrat Sam
Do the jitterbug out in muskrat land
And they shimmy
And Sammy’s so skinny

Even though the lyrics to a number of America’s songs make no sense at all, I still enjoy the flow of their soft, light music. I guess it’s like anything else in life. Just go with the flow and don’t get hung up by the details.

 
29 Comments

Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Memories

 

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How iTunes saved my sanity

iTunes LibraryNo doubt most of you are too young to remember when cars were equipped with only AM radios (and that was an extra-cost option). This was back before there were 8-track tape players, cassette tape players, or CD players built into car radios. There was just that staticky AM radio.

And if you went on a road trip, no sooner were you maybe 15 or 20 miles from your departure point when the AM radio station you were listening to would start to fade away.

The primary role of the person sitting shot-gun was to search the dial trying to find another radio station to listen to for maybe the next 10-30 minutes, depending upon its signal strength, until it, too, faded into a staticky white noise. And then the search for yet another station would begin.

And oh yes, this was back in the day when car radios had knobs; some even had physical push buttons for set stations. There was no scan feature.

Then those clunky 8-track tapes were introduced. These were albums on tape, but the medium left something to be desired, since songs were often cut off in the middle and you had flip the tape over in the car’s 8-track tape player. Cassette tapes were a big improvement. They were smaller and you could buy the pre-recorded kind or you could record you own “mixes.” But the tapes often jammed up in the car’s cheap cassette player.

Finally, CDs and car radios with CD players came along. They didn’t get jammed or torn in the car’s cassette player, but they were prone to getting scratched.

Around a decade ago, everything changed. Apple introduced iTunes and the iTunes store, which provided a huge library of songs that people could download to their computers and their iPods (and later, their iPhones and iPads). If you owned music CDs, you could copy the songs from your CDs to your iTunes library.

And because the iPods could essentially fit inside a shirt or pants pocket, you didn’t need a player (cassette or CD) and a bunch of cassettes tapes or CDs to listen to your collection of music. Your entire music collection could be stored on your pocket-sized iPod.

Last week I drove across the country from central Massachusetts to San Francisco in a rental truck. This truck had an AM/FM radio (with no push buttons) and I was afraid that I would be continually searching for music to listen to as I traveled along the interstates.

Fortunately, though, the truck’s radio also had an AUX input jack. So before I left Massachusetts, I went to Best Buy and bought an auxiliary cable. One end plugged into the truck’s AUX input on the radio and the other into my iPhone, which enabled my iTunes songs to be heard via the truck’s audio speakers.

I have around 2,100 songs on my iPhone. These songs cover more than five decades of music, songs from the early sixties — even a few from the late 50s — to very current stuff. My iTunes library includes a wide range of music genres from rock to Motown to new age to pop and, somehow, a little bit of C&W.

During my five days on the road for ten hours I day, I put my iPhone on shuffle and listened to whatever random songs came up. With each song that played, a flood of memories took my mind off an otherwise mind-numbing drive. And even after more than 50 hours on the road, I barely got through one-third of my iTunes library by the time I arrived in San Francisco.

So thank you iTunes, iPhone, and the Best Buy auxiliary cable for enabling me to experience random memories during my cross-country drive…and for helping me to stay sane.

iTunes Library 2

 
19 Comments

Posted by on July 24, 2014 in Memories, Technology

 

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Too many words

too many wordsI regularly follow somewhere around 60 blogs and many of the bloggers I follow post daily. Not all of them, but quite a few do. And some post multiple times per day. So it takes time each day to go through the Reader to see what has been recently posted by the bloggers I follow.

I also like to link to the blogs of those who comment on my posts if I’m not already following their blogs — just to see who they are and what their blogs are all about. And that takes time, as well.

I confess, though, that I don’t read every blog I follow every time the blogger posts something new. I just don’t have the time. I do have a life outside of WordPress, you know.

First, there’s my job. And then there’s…okay, then there’s WordPress. But I do have to decide which blogs I want to read, which I want to skim, and which I want to skip without reading.

When you open Reader (or what I call “Preview Reader”), you see each new post with the blog name and the title of the post. Some show an image if there is an imbedded image in the post. And below the image are a few sentences of text, followed by a link showing how many more words there are in the post. It might look like this:

Reader

To be honest, if I see that the post more than 1,000 “more words,” I am less likely to click on that link than if I see it has fewer than 1,000 more words. Of course, if the blogger is someone whose posts I always enjoy, or if the subject matter is something that is of keen interest to me, or if the title of the post piques my interest, or if the image shown intrigues me, I will go ahead and click on the post’s title regardless of the number of words.

That takes you to the “full” Reader page for that post, where you can potentially read the entire post without actually going to the blog itself. Some blogs, mine included, however, can’t be read fully in the Reader. Again, there are a few sentences of text, maybe a few more than in the “preview” Reader, but you’ll also see a message that says:

sorry this postIf I’ve gotten that far and still see that there are 1,000 or more words remaining, unless it’s something that really grabs me, I’m may not go on and link to the actual post.

Short attention span

Maybe I have a short attention span when it comes to reading blog posts, because really, 1,500 or 2,000 words aren’t that many words. But for me, on that particular day at that particular time, it just may be too many words.

I try to keep that in mind when I’m writing my posts. I figure if I am a little less likely to read posts with a lot of words, perhaps others are too. I’m sure I’m not the only person on WordPress who is pressed for time. So I strive to keep all of my posts to 1,000 words or fewer.

I admit, I may be missing out on some great posts from truly amazing bloggers, but I have to be discriminating because I don’t have the bandwidth to read every blog I come across. And the metric I often use is word count.

I’m curious how others determine how to invest their blog reading time. Do you, like me, use word count as a factor in determining if you’re going to fully read a post? If so, how many words are too many words for you? What other factors do you use to determine which posts to read and which posts to pass up?

By the way, this post has around 650 words. But the good news is that if you’ve gotten this far, there are only… 3 more words

 
44 Comments

Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Blogging

 

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