A Few Links of Note

A buddy of mine sent me an email the other day wishing me a happy Squirrel Appreciation Day. That holiday has come and gone with a minimum of squirrel suicide, but here’s a squirrel video I actually can appreciate. (In case you’ve already seen the video, which has made it’s way around the world via email of all things, I found a long-play version with a little more info and footage of a second clever thief.) Apparently the perpetrator of the video added obstacles one at a time, with this as the final result.

It is purely coincidental that the next two links are by the last two people to comment on this blog as of this writing.*

My favorite climate scientist has given us all reason to fight global warming: the supply of chocolate is threatened! This is a must-read, kids.

And earlier today I popped over to a blog and read an article about… blogs. It’s an interesting read about the blog life-cycle, how they grow and why they die, to which I can add a few musings. Muddled Ramblings is an outlier in blog taxonomy, I think; it lies outside the regular life-cycle, in a place where many blogs die. It’s a blog without any clear theme, and without any real growth in readership. The bloggcomm is small but strong; the comments provide a huge lift in value for everyone. But gone are the days of the Millennial Office Holder and similar hijinks, and no insider silliness has grown to replace them. Still I blog along, more than eight years and 1800 episodes worth. It’s a blog that will not die — a blog zombie!

After reading that article I’m pondering ways to better foster community here at MR&HBI. I don’t want to lose what we already have going, or to diminish in any way the contributions of the faithful, but it seems like there’s more stuff we could do together. I think the collaborative writing experiment It Goes Without Saying was on the right track, but the barrier to participation was a little too high – you had to know what was going on. Something collaborative that people could just drop by and toss in a contribution without too much effort would be really cool. (The Fantasy Novelist’s Scoreboard awaits your input!)

The writers of Web comics often have events where they write episodes for each others’ strips. That would be fun, to have guest posts from other bloggers here, while I blog there. Fun for me, certainly, but would it be compelling for readers? In the comic world, the guest artist borrows the characters from the strip and puts a new twist on them. It would be pretty hard for someone to take such an unfocussed forum as this one and put any sort of twist on it. Then again, since when has ‘not fun for the readers’ stopped me before?

I enjoy writing challenges; Elephants of Doom was the most elaborate response to one such challenge, and just a few days ago I cranked out The Secret Life of Sporks. That was a hoot, and I wouldn’t mind a bit if there were more challenges like that. I’d formalize something (“Wacky prompt Thursday!”) but I’m petrified that no one would suggest anything and the sound of crickets chirping would be embarrassing.

Also, I need to get the Muddled Calendar back up and running. Maybe we can finally name all the holidays.

But now I’m rambling far, far off the “post a few links” intent of this episode, staggering around the blogosphere like a drunken beachcomber with a broken metal detector, looking for answers but really too lazy to find them.

You don’t have to thank me, it’s what I do.

* Actually, that’s not strictly true.


Waiting for the Printer

I haven’t mentioned in these pages yet that Harlean Carpenter (who is a fiction) and I are making a magazine. Not some web-zine, either, but a nice, substantial print magazine called The Poetic Pinup Revue. The magazine is large, printed on good, heavy paper, and built to last. As you might guess by the title, it’s a book that juxtaposes beautiful images (that lean toward the pinup genre) and carefully-matched poetry. Harlean painstakingly laid the text into the images so that each enhances the other.

Yes, I am aware that I just took the Post Office to task for encouraging the slaughter of trees. This is the kind of thing paper should be used for. It’s bold, sturdy, and carries the impact that only an 11×17-inch spread can. Some of the pages are simply awesome.

At least, I think they are. My contribution to the Revue was mainly technical, laying out the pages in Adobe Illustrator and for some images tweaking the color balance after converting from RGB to CMYK.

But… did I do it right? Should I have tweaked all the images, not just the ones that didn’t look right onscreen in the .pdf file? Black works a little funny in CMYK; will the images lose their richness and depth on the printed page? Is some awesome photographer out there going to cringe to see her own work poorly reproduced? Or, on the other hand, will the images be so beautifully rendered that we are flooded with submissions for the next issue? There’s really no way to know if I got the colors right until we see the actual magazine sprayed onto dead trees a few days from now.

The first print run had to be of a certain size to be cost-effective. That means each mistake is repeated that many times, but it also means that each gorgeous page will create a whole bunch of smiles and thoughtful expressions. Please, oh please, gods of ink and pulp, let them all be gorgeous.

No matter how it turns out, I’ll be letting you know here. For the lowdown on the magazine itself, swing on by PoeticPinupRevue.com.

The Pent-up Demand for Egg-Frying Advice

Not very long ago, 200 visitors to this blog in a single day was an event worthy of my turning to my sweetie and saying, “hey, I got 200 visitors yesterday”. Now here it is before noon on a Sunday and the magic number has already been surpassed. What gives? Ladies and Gentlemen and others of the blogging community, I call your attention to exhibit A (click to see a bit bigger):

egg-frying demand curve

surging demand for egg-frying advice

This is the number of loads of a single episode on my blog: my tutorial on cooking eggs over-easy. That episode has been around a long time, but you don’t need an advanced degree in statistics to see that lately its popularity has been gong through the roof.

The blogger’s lament: “If only I could figure out how to turn those visitors into regular readers!” Still, I can console myself that perhaps out there a few more people are experiencing delicious egg breakfasts.

I suspect Google’s +1 has something to do with the precipitous rise in popularity; if a few people have endorsed the page, Google’s going to move it closer to the top of its rankings. It is a pretty damn good tutorial, I have to say, even if the promised video is currently AWOL.

I’m a little surprised, because I suspect the +1 thingie at the bottom of each page doesn’t work for everyone. The code tries to load a script in a way that violates the security policies of my browser (and should violate that policy on all of them, though obviously it doesn’t). I’ve found another, no-script button set that I could use instead, but in my naïvety about how that all stuff works, I don’t know if I’ll lose my current mojo if I switch. Will Google see the next + the same way? I’m probably fretting over nothing.

The astute among you will see a period last year when no visits were logged at all. I address that issue in an episode about getting my cloud and my protective systems working together.

Little Buddy – The Podcast!

Showing kindness to others is its own reward – especially when the ‘other’ is a three-headed kitten.


The long-overdue third in the series; I almost forgot how to do all this stuff. I did figure out why the audio quality was so different last time, but hell if I kept having problems with plosives this time around.

I also learned once more that writing for a performance and writing for readers is different. In some places I made edits to the story to help keep it clearer who was talking, and perhaps I should have done that a little more. Still, I’m pretty happy with the result. One of the downsides to using my favorite stories first is that I make my mistakes on them. Once I’m rich and famous I’ll go back and redo the first ones as well.

Anyway, enjoy!


Return of the Tree-Slayers

The United States Postal Service has opened up a new campaign. “Isn’t paper great!” they tell us. You can put your records in a filing cabinet and everyone loves that!

Way to go green, semi-governmental entity! While I’m at it, should I make stacks of tear-off sheets for this blog, so people can save what I wrote in a filing cabinet, too?

Three Questions for the NBA

  1. Aren’t the players supposed to run? ‘Cause most of them don’t. Shambling faster than the other guys makes you ‘up-tempo’. I don’t think the players are as coked-up as the networks want us to believe.
  2. Maybe the league should rewrite the traveling rule to reflect what’s actually enforced. Better yet, enforce the current rule.
  3. Mr. Defender* – are you angry that the guy who had the ball blocked you from getting out of his way? The way you twisted and forced your way past the guy with the ball was inspirational. You had someplace to go. Someplace far from the play.
  4. Number two wasn’t a question. Neither is this.
  5. Do you really expect me to watch this? I mean, obviously I see enough of the activity (sport, not so much) to form judgements, but do you really think you have a good product?
  6. Sorry, NBA, that was two questions. You don’t have to answer the second.
  7. * He’s the guy who inspired this screed. He fought his way past the guy with the ball to get into open space so the enemy could get a basket. Don’t ask me who he was; he’s not exceptional. This is how they play the game.

    Side note to Memphis: Your yellow shirts and dark green shorts are the Worst Uniform Ever, in any sport (except maybe the Padres and Astros in the ’70’s). The awfulness is amplified by your total disregard for your team identity. Grizzly? Hardly. How much did you pay your marketing team? I’ll do better for half as much.

The Secret Life of Sporks

“Half-breed” they’re called, and far worse names. Not a true spoon, not a true fork, but some bastard hybrid from a 1950’s science fiction movie.

The only cutlery that’s always plastic. The only cutlery whose name isn’t also a verb. They are the sporks. A group so marginalized that my spelling checker suggests ‘sparks’.

They don’t have a place in the drawer, even though they replace two of the implements already there. They can lift soup to your mouth and they can hoist up a nice chunk of steak. It’s no wonder spoons and forks feel so threatened.

But perhaps you didn’t know this: Sporks are doing just fine, thankyouverymuch. They have their own culture, their own traditions, and they’re not pining for our acceptance. Recently I had the privilege of witnessing a Spork-out, a celebration of spork by sporks. While I agreed to not reveal the sacred rituals, I can relate a few impressions.

Presiding over all was the Elder Spork, coffee-stained and partially melted, bowing to confer his blessing on the gathered youth. How he laughed to the song, “whatcha gonna do with that one-inch tine, forky?”

The youth, so energetic and idealistic, chanting “we can do it all!”

The uproar when revolutionary Sporkicus suggested they adopt serrated edges and “bring down the knives.” What followed can only be called a riot.

There is more, so much more, but if I don’t want my heart to be slowly and inefficiently removed from my body I must stop now.