2018 – Time For Some New Year’s Resolutions

Featured2018 – Time For Some New Year’s Resolutions

Okay, here we go. The new year is upon us and it is time to do what many, many, many people do – make my New Year’s Resolutions. As I was searching for an image to use for this post, instead I found this article from lifehack.org – 50 New Year’s Resolution Ideas And How To Achieve Each Of Them. Nearly all the items I thought of for my resolutions are on this list. The only one that isn’t is my number one resolution. So here is my list of resolutions for 2018. Like most people, the odds are against me sticking with all of them, but I’m going to try harder this year than I have in the past.

  1. Publish at least once a week on this blog: Yes, this is my number one resolution and it’s the only one not on the lifehack list, although it kind of is. Number 49 on the list is Start writing a book/journal. No, this blog isn’t a book nor does it qualify as my journal, but the idea of either is to write, which is what this blog is about and what I intend to do. This is post number one, so it’s a good start.
  2. Get healthier: For my second resolution, I’m combining several different ones from the list. As you can tell by the graphic above, my blood sugar averages for December are awful. This is important to me because I’m a diabetic. If you’re not, the chart probably doesn’t mean much to you, but for a diabetic it can mean life or death. Reigning in my blood sugar is part of my overall resolution to get healthier by healthier eating, more exercise, more and better sleep, and giving up cigarettes. For many people, it’s not easy to do any of these regularly, but again, I am determined to do better in 2018.
  3. Watch less TV and read more: For this item on my resolution list, I combined a couple of resolutions that were listed separately on the lifehack list. Like many people, I watch a lot of TV – in fact I watch too much. I used to be a very avid reader that more often that not had my face buried in a book. Over the years, that changed, and in my opinion, for the worse. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with watching TV, but it should be in moderation. In my case, 8 to 10 hours a day was entirely too much. So, I’m going back to the life I used to lead – the life of a voracious reader. Because I own a Kindle, and because there are thousands of books that can be downloaded for free, I am currently reading a collection of Sherlock Holmes novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  4. Learn more about art, music, culture etc.: I’m fortunate in that I have a pretty decent education. Over the years I’ve taken classes and read and studied many subjects on my own, so I feel pretty knowledgeable about a lot of things. One of my biggest shortcomings though is what many of us consider “cultural” works. For example, I’ve never been to the opera or the ballet. I don’t understand a lot about art. These are the things that I intend to start experiencing in 2018, and I’m busy searching for the first one to attend this month.
  5. Earn more money: Like most people, I can always use more money. I am retired now, so I can’t get a pay raise or a bonus at work. I’m not looking for a job, either. My extra money is going to come from working from home in a couple of different endeavors, but those are for later posts or posts in another web site or blog I am working on.

So there you have it. These are my five resolutions for 2018. I hope you made yours as well and I wish you much success in achieving them.

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One More for 2017

Goodness! The end of the year is fast approaching and 2018 is just around the corner. For me, among other things, that means my annual payment for this blog’s plan is due soon. For that reason, and no other reason right now, I’m writing and publishing something else before then. I’m not sure what this is going to be about – I might just write a bunch of unrelated ramblings or I might just compose a well thought out essay about people who write bunches of unrelated ramblings. Or I might not.

One thing I’ve noticed as I look back over the years I’ve been writing here is that every year I’ve written a post explaining or trying to justify my failure to write anything on a consistent basis. I can do that again here, but I’m not. It’s been said, over and over, so no point in repeating it.

Despite the fact that I am in my sixties now – my age, not my IQ, for all you comedians out there – I still am interested in a lot of things. For example, I still watch college football every year, almost religiously. It’s been awesome the last few years. See, I am a Clemson Tiger fan. I grew up just a few miles from Clemson, SC so it’s just a natural thing and once again the Tigers are headed to the college football playoffs.

I also like to learn. In fact, I try to make it a point to learn something new every day. It’s not hard to do with the technology we have available to us these days. Although much of what I learn on a daily basis just comes from reading or seeing something new while browsing the internet, I still take time to participate in some formal learning . Much of what I’ve done in the last year has been some online classes at Saylor Academy. In addition to Saylor, I am planning on enrolling in some new courses at Coursera in 2018.

Of course, I still have an undying love and interst in music, and I think that’s what’s going to wrap up this post. While I am interested in all types of music, I love rock and roll and bluegrass. But, there’s something of a caveat here. Rock and roll to me pretty much means what is now considered “Classic Rock.” I suppose that some new music fits the definition of rock and roll, I just don’t think it measures up to the bands that recorded music in the 60”s, 70’s, and 80’s – the exceptions being the artists that started then that are still releasing new music today. The best example I can give is John Mellencamp, who is my favorite musician of all time. So I think that’s what I’m going to end with, a song from Mellencamp. It’s appropriate, given my age and my ailment wracked body. Hope you enjoy it.

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Happy Eclipse Day!

Logo for Eclipse 2017 from NASAI’m sure you already know, but if not, today is the day of the total solar eclipse. This is the first total solar eclipse to be seen in so much of the continental United States since the eclipse of June 8, 1918. I’m one of the fortunate ones that aren’t driving hundreds for thousands of miles to view it. It will happen right out in my back yard, since I live smack in the middle of the path of totality. It seems like as good a reason as any for me to start writing again and try to revitalize this poor blog that’s suffered from so much neglect in the last few years.

I know I’ve experienced eclipses before, certainly some lunar eclipses and no doubt some partial solar eclipses, but this is the first total solar eclipse for me. Numerous sources are calling it a “once in a lifetime experience” and I am fortunate that I am going to witness it in my lifetime. As I write this, it’s just a few hours until we experience this event here in Columbia, SC, but it’s already started on the west coast. I’m trying to watch some of NASA’s live feeds but there are some problems. If I had to guess, there are bandwidth problems since I’m sure many millions of people are trying to watch the same feeds as I am. I guess I’ll just have to be content with the real thing in a few hours. If things go well, I hope to put up another post in a few hours after the eclipse is over.

One of the things I intended to do several years ago was to start a “Song of the Day” feature on this blog to share some of my favorite music. Not that this song is one of my favorites, but it is a good song and the perfect song to start with today to celebrate the eclipse. This song was a mega-hit for Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler in 1983. Enjoy the video of “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

And I’m off to prepare for my eclipse experience.

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Back At It, Again

Not too long ago I started reading a book entitled The Divine Guide to Creating a Daily Writing Practice by Pernille Norregaard, a free book I downloaded to my Kindle a little over a year ago. It’s a pretty good book if you are a struggling writer, or have designs on becoming one. Although it’s loaded with tips, the main point is clear from the title – if you want to write, you need to have a daily writing practice.

Something I don’t.

If you take a look at the graphic that opens this article, you can see that my writing practice, at least for this blog, has been nil for nearly a year and a half. In fact, the last article I published here was nothing more than a re-post of an Associated Press article on Dec 31, 2015.

I started this blog over five years ago with a couple of ideas in mind; first, I intended to write often and consistently, as in say, a Daily Writing Practice. At the time, it seemed like a really good idea and something I felt like I could and would do. I thought that frequent writing would help me improve my writing. It made sense to me that the more one writes, the better they become.

Well, I failed miserably.

Not only have I not written often or consistently, I’m not sure there’s been any improvement in my writing. I’ve certainly failed this blog.

Time after time I’ve started writing; fully intending to publish frequently on this blog and make it what I wanted it to be from the beginning. It’s not as if I can’t write. I think I’ve proven I can with the articles I have published. Comments from readers over the years seem to confirm that occasionally I could write rather well. It’s not as if I have nothing to write about. Anyone living in today’s world can find plenty of things to write about if they want, including me. It’s really just always been a matter of utter laziness and a complete lack of motivation.

So tonight it’s time for a change.

So if you are a kind soul and have a mind to, wish me well and stop by on occasion to see if I succeed.

And if you’re not and you don’t, stop by anyway.

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Writing Success on WordPress

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

In my last post, I talked about the “Perfect Reader” from the point of view of the writer. I discussed several things that I believe define you and I as writers, because, truth be told, if you are reading this, you are probably writing something in your own blog – which makes you a writer. Maybe I have read it, maybe I haven’t; maybe I am your “perfect reader” and maybe I’m not. Either way, I applaud you for taking a chance writing and publishing what you wrote. Whether one person read it or one hundred thousand people read it, what does it matter? The most important thing is you wrote it and put it out in your little corner of cyberspace for someone else to read. For what you want is someone to read it. You really want someone to like it, maybe like it a lot, and in doing so, validate your existence as a writer. You might want to get paid for your writing – and in doing so, validate yourself even more as a writer.

I know I do. I would like that very much.

The question is, can you and how do you do it on WordPress? I don’t know if you can or not, but I believe I’ve figured out a couple of things in the nearly three years I have been blogging here. First thing is this: I believe writing your blog here on WordPress.com is probably the best place one can write and get the most exposure for their writing. Certainly it is for a novice writer. But, it is not the perfect place, and here is why.

Unless you are already an established writer with a huge following, your ability to capture readers, especially a lot of readers, is dependent on three things. First: your topic and the quality of the writing about your topic. Let’s face it, nobody is going to read atrocious writing, at least not for very long. Second: your timing and the tags you use must be spot on. Exposure, I believe, is a momentary piece of timing and luck. In other words, you have a very short period of time for readers to view your post and be compelled enough to read it and decide if it merits enough effort to investigate your blog further. Third: I believe anything you post is going to fail the timing and exposure tests unless you have a great, or at least good photo to go along with it. I believe this based on my own experience: To date, I have published 88 posts to this blog. Of those 88, the top three posts with the most “Likes” all included decent photographs. In descending order, they are: Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life | 2, “Super Sport” | Photo Challenge – Letters, and Weekly Photo Challenge: Street Life.

So, there you have it – my little three cents worth on how we as writers might, if we are lucky, and we write well enough, and we can either take, borrow or steal a great photo, we might just make it as writers on WordPress…and if we are really, truly, remarkably lucky…we might just get our piece Freshly Pressed.

So go out there and do it. Give it your best shot. And, good luck!

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Maps | Are You On Mine?

Before I publish any more articles here, I want to tell you all about my project and invite you to participate. I am creating a map…I kinda like maps…of everyone who is following this blog. I’ve managed to get the location of a few of you from your blogs…but I’ve struggled with others.

If you would like to help me out…please reply with a fairly accurate geographical location of where you live or you are writing from. I am trying to pinpoint anyone’s location who isn’t willing or invade anyone’s privacy. I am just trying to create a really cool map.

Here is what I have so far.

Map of followers

Please help if you will.

Thanks.

 

 

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Blog Followers: Good and Bad

165 Followers BadgeFour months ago, when I wrote regularly, I apparently wrote pieces that were informative or entertaining enough for readers to like them and want to see more. This may or may not have been the reason they decided to follow this blog. Regardless of the reason, I somehow managed to attract 165 followers: 131 following the blog and 34 following on Facebook.

So what is a follower? It seems to me that a follower is simply a reader that makes a conscious decision to follow and continue to read another person’s blog. As a follower, they can visit the blog as they see fit, or they can receive electronic notifications that the blog(s) they follow have been updated. It’s then their decision to actually read the blog or not.

Based on my experience as a blog follower and as a blogger with followers, I think many of us use the number of followers we have as a yardstick of how popular our blog is. In one respect, I think this is fine. It’s nice to have several hundred or several thousand followers of your blog. On the other hand, I believe the number is a bit misleading. Anyone can choose to follow a blog, but never read it again. So, without another way to measure readership, I think the number of followers a blog has is not a truly accurate representation of how popular a blog is.

Are their good followers and bad followers? I think there must be. According to everything I’ve read on WordPress, a good blog is one that attracts and builds a community – a community that gets readers and writers involved. They may be readers that just follow a blog because they share common interests, or they may engage by commenting on blog entries they find interesting, informative, or entertaining. According to WordPress, “A blog is just a diary unless there’s a community — start building yours.” So, I think that is what makes a good blog follower, one that actively engages the author and the readership by becoming involved in the blog with comments or by using an article as inspiration for their own article – by working to build a community.

To this point, I have done a so-so job of being a good follower. I have commented on a few, and at one point I was reading blogs I followed regularly. I’ve failed miserably to do either in the last few months, but I am committing myself now to do better. Whether you follow this blog or not, make the same commitment to be a good follower yourself.

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“Last Shot” | Flash Fiction – Six Words

Beretta M9 My EditsAwake. Depressed. Fired Beretta. Fell dead.
 

Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.~August Wilson

 

A six word tale for the Flash Fiction challenge.