Category Archives: Blogger

Back at it? Perhaps?

Hello, blog. I’ve missed you. It’s been a while.

This post is probably the most boring I’ve ever written, but it’s a bit of a test. A new platform, new I/O, new environment, it’s all new.

Years ago I tried to start a blog without really knowing that’s what I was doing. I was trying to do things the hard way – I’d write an article on the front page of my website, archive the previous post by hand, try to update all the links manually… It was a mess. At the time I was working in the art department of a local print shop, and was responsible for typesetting and designing the newsletter for the Siouxland Senior Center. I remember the day the newsletter’s editor brought in that month’s articles – including one on blogging.

I had no idea…

Not only were other people doing the same thing I was, but there was software out there that did all the tricky parts! Astounding! And even more surprising, there was a whole community of folks out there, blogging on nearly every subject I could think of… My horizons expanded dramatically.

I signed up for a Blogger account because their logo was neater than Blogger’s main competitor, WordPress, and started writing. I’d go to work every morning and hope for a slow day. In odd moments between design jobs I’d zip out a sentence. By the end of the day I’d have a post ready to publish. Sometimes it was just a paragraph, other times a full-blown essay. I enjoyed not only the distraction and the artistic release, but much more importantly I enjoyed the people I met – all of whom I’m still connected with today through Facebook. I felt like I was part of the community, a virtual neighborhood.

I blogged for years, and enjoyed it massively. The opportunity to express my views and get feedback from my peers was priceless. But then two things happened in close succession that effectively ended my blogging.

The first thing was that I quit my job at the print shop and started my own little freelance company, HippieBoy Design. Suddenly instead of working eight hours a day with a few minutes each hour to peck away at an essay, now I was working 16 hours a day seven days a week to make ends meet.

The second thing was Facebook. It fit my new life perfectly – most of my blogging pals were also on Facebook, and it’s soooo much easier to jot one or two sentences a day in Facebook than it is to actually flesh out an entire blog post. And the feedback on a Facebook post is immediate, overwhelming, and massively addicting. When you write a full-blown well considered blog post, you’re lucky if ten people read it, and I considered getting six comments to be fantastic. On Facebook I can write a sentence about my breakfast that nearly a thousand folks will see and will get reactions from 50 people in a day.

So my beloved blog withered on the vine, unmourned by any but me.

Over the years, as my blog languished, I started to see more and more websites that were utilizing WordPress as a CMS solution. Eventually I designed a few websites in WordPress for customers, and configured several blogs for my customers. Each time I’d consider more and more seriously moving my blog from Blogger to WordPress. I liked the interface better, the versatility. But the technicalities of converting were daunting to me.

For the past eight or ten months I’d occasionally pull up my old blog and stare at it for a few moments, an idea for a post in mind. But it looked so outdated and clumsy to me that I couldn’t even think of writing. All I wanted to do was move my entire site over to WordPress and reconfigure and redesign everything – but I couldn’t bring myself to do that either! In my mind, I’m not allowed to work on personal projects if my customers aren’t seen to first. So the blog sat in the back of my mind.

A few days ago I mentioned my humdrum conundrum to college pal and blogger Allen Andersen. “I can convert it for you, no problem,” he said. “I like doing this sort of thing.” To be honest, I can’t imagine anyone liking that sort of thing at all – the coding, mental gymnastics, research, I hate all those things. I want to write silly essays, take pretty pictures, make pleasing designs, and annoy people with my bass guitar – not struggle with the mechanics of it all… So I was thrilled to hand the keys to Allen.

And I’m VERY grateful that he actually did convert my dusty old blog over to WordPress for me! Hurray and Huzzah! Thank you thank you thank you!

His job was to do the nuts ‘n bolts and he done did it well. My job is to make it pretty and write neato content. I’m looking forward to writing again. I’m sure it will take me months to get the aesthetics where I want them as (again) I have a hard time working on personal projects before my customers’ projects are finished.

But I’m going to write. I can blog on my iPad during my lunch hour and (as I’m doing now) at ten at night whilst laying in bed watching Mythbuster reruns and eating popcorn.

Blogger, Web Sites, Servers and Other Confusion

Boy, what a mess.

In an unguarded moment of uncharacteristic reckless abandon, I decided to move one of my web sites ( from AxisHost (whom I highly recommend, by the way) over to the same place all my other web sites live, simply to keep things consistent. “This will be fun,” I though to myself as I sat in front of the keyboard and squinted myopically at the screen. “I should be able to do this just by changing THIS and THIS. Oh wait. I guess I have to change THIS, too. Uh oh… Um…”

In one swell foop I managed to lose my web site, my e-mail, my wife’s e-mail, and my blog. All I gotta say is if you’re gonna muck about with cName and MX attributes, you’d best have a cuppa coffee ’cause it’s gonna take a while to get things straightened out, unless, I suppose, you know what you’re doing.

So now (as you can see) I’ve got my blog back up and running, though its based on a standard template (I’ll change that by and by) and I’ve lost all the photos in the archived entries. The sad part is that for various technical reasons I don’t understand fully I couldn’t keep my blog’s URL, which means I have to contact everyone who reads the blog or may have a link to the blog and tell them where it lives nowadays. It’s a pain for everyone, and I apologize.

I’m in the process of rebuilding, but it’ll take a while. Please be patient. Pretty please.

In a totally unrelated incident, the people who govern the Web have decided that the “embed” file is obsolete now. Unfortunately, I still use that tag a LOT — it’s how I get Picasa slideshows to work on my Web sites. The tool I use to design my sites is HTML 4.01 compliant, and is therefore stripping all “embed” commands from my sites whenever I do any editing. I’m not sure what the workaround will be for that, but at the moment it seems likely that I’ll simply have to get rid of the slideshows, bit by bit. (For some reason they still work in Blogger. Go figger.)

Dagmar and I are off to Omaha in a few hours to meet some friends, watch a good band (Studebaker John), and not think about computers.

If you’re reading this on Facebook, you can see the original blog at, click on “Blog.”

Curmudgeonly Thoughts

TV Woes

Amputations Are Forever

Having spent the last few days on the couch, holding on to my aching tummy, watching TV through a haze of fevered illness, I’ve come to a few conclusions.

The diamond people are evil. Having known about “Blood Diamonds” for the past few years, I find it morally irresponsible and borderline criminal for TV stations to accept advertising money from diamond companies until there is an international organization in place to ensure a diamond’s provenance. Blood, or “conflict” diamonds were declared illegal by the United Nations way back in 2000. If you go to a website sanctioned by the diamond industry (like this one), you’ll quickly learn that according to their statistics, 99.9% of the diamonds on the market are “clean.” I don’t trust this fact, simply because it comes straight from the diamond companies themselves, who stand to lose millions, if not billions of dollars. They also point out that hundreds of thousands of people in Africa are better off due to revenue from diamond sales, and that many of them now have health insurance.

If, however, you go to an independent website (like this one, or Wikipedia) you’ll learn that the diamond industry is funding several intense wars in Africa, and profits from the diamond industry may be linked to al-Queda. In 1996 Sierra Leone’s president asked people to “join hands for peace.” In response, Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front began amputating people’s hands, arms, legs, lips and ears, mutilating over 20,000 and killing over 75,000 people in the last ten years — all in an attempt to control that country’s diamond trade.

Diamonds are pretty things. But please don’t buy them with impunity – do some research to find out where the diamond came from. And don’t trust the salesman! Or the brand name! Canada has some diamond mines…

Another thing that bugs me about the whole deal is how the diamond commercials try to make men feel like they’re failures if they don’t buy their wives or girlfriends $20,000 worth of diamonds for every holiday. Personally, I think that if a woman demands a man to buy her trinkets to prove himself, she has issues. I’ve bought Dagmar a fair share of jewelry, flowers and greeting cards over the years, but never because she expected me to, nor because I felt obligated to do so, and almost never on a holiday. “Every kiss begins with Kay” implies that if I don’t buy my wife a diamond from Kay Jewelers I’ll never have sex again. I resent any company assuming that my wife is that shallow.


My esteemed blog colleague Steakbellie pointed out a while ago in this rather salty post that prescription drug commercials are flooding the airwaves. I don’t blame him for using strong language – I often holler language like that at the TV myself when I see dangerous commercials.

The danger of pharmaceutical commercials is that when people see an ad saying “do you have trouble sleeping?” all of a sudden they think they have a medical problem that causes them insomnia, and all they need to be happy is that particular medicine. “Are the toenails on your left foot sore from two to four on Tuesday afternoons?” Well, now that you mention it…

The problem is that we, as a society, are now telling our doctors what medicine we need rather than letting our doctors diagnose us properly, and that’s dangerous.

No one wants to have heartburn any more. It’s more dramatic and romantic to have an exotic problem like acid reflux disease… So we’re pushing our doctors to give us medication we don’t need — a shot of Pepto-Bismol would probably cure the problem, but we’re happier if we have a $75 bottle of pills that need to be refilled every month. (I’m not trying to downplay acid reflux disease, either. I’m just saying that there seem to be lots of people out there who claim to have the problem when their problem really is the pizza they eat.)

I feel this is a dangerous thing.

As Steakbellie pointed out, this trend is not likely to disappear soon. There’s simply too much money involved. The pharmaceutical companies are making a ton of money selling us drugs we don’t need (notice you never see commercials for generic or low-cost drugs), the advertising executives are living well, and the TV industry is making a ton of money selling ad space to drug companies. Think how much cheaper drugs would be if they weren’t buying half the advertising space available on the airwaves…

Looking At Yourself

Since when is a television show news? When did this start? I think the trend’s been around for a while, but it just now got past the threshold where I now notice it… I was watching a morning news show — the one with the jovial weatherman, one white woman, one minority woman, and one father figure, I’m sure you know which one that is (oh, wait, that does kinda describe all of ’em) — and was surprised at how much time in their “news” show they devoted to other programs on that particular network, treating the TV shows as if they were legitimate news!

I have a hard time picturing Walter Cronkite spending 15 minutes of his half-hour broadcast talking about the Beaver’s wacky antics.

The problem is insidious. There’s nothing technically wrong with any particular show choosing what they consider to be news and putting that up for our consumption, but it sure seems sneaky when they start to disguise propaganda as news. I’ve always wondered how much control corporations have over our news, now I worry even more. (Freedom of the press only applies if you actually own the press. Newspapers and television have to cater not only to their parent corporations, but to their advertisers. If “Ralph’s Cardboard Company” buys half the advertising space in the local newspaper, the likelihood that you’ll hear in that newspaper that Ralph’s Cardboard is carcinogenic is pretty small. This is a bit scary. Think of pharmaceutical companies buying television stations… Would we ever hear of alternative drugs or cheaper medications? Probably not…)

The only good thing about the situation is that it’s easy to avoid. There are so many media outlets these days it’s hard for anyone to corner the news market. If I hear something questionable on the news, I often check BBC to see if and how it’s reported there. (Not that they’re perfect or impartial, but they’re not subject to the same political pressures our news outlets face here in America.) More and more often I’m finding myself searching blogs to check on a news story as well. The point being, don’t believe everything you see. Check things out. Be critical. Take my word for it, you’ll be happier that way.

Those Annoying Little Graphics

Having spent two illish days on the couch staring vacantly at the tube, I’ve also learned that I really, really don’t like those little graphics that every station now has at the bottom of the screen. Most stations have their logo at the bottom left (like I’m too dense to know what channel I’m watching), and quite a few of them also fly advertising across the bottom of the screen at regular intervals. I’ve seen it get so bad that in one corner the ABC logo was covered by the local affiliate logo, which was all on top of some graphic telling me what show was on, while in the other corner there was some advertising blurb completely covering up the weather alert I was trying to see. That’s downright dangerous and irresponsible at that point.

I just don’t like ’em. I get enough advertising shoved at me in one day. I’m smart enough to know what channel I’m watching, and I know by watching the morning news show what shows I’m supposed to watch that evening; I don’t really need any more, thank you. I’m full.

Public Service Announcements

There must be a law that each local station must show a certain number of public service announcements. That’s good – we all need to be educated about AIDS, the benefits of staying in school and whatnot. The problem is that at least one station here in Sioux City runs ALL the public service announcements, nearly back-to-back, between 3 and 5 in the morning. I’m assuming that advertising is cheapest then, so it doesn’t cost the station so much in lost advertising revenue to run the PSA’s then. In any case, it’s pretty transparent, and I don’t like it. The whole point of PSA’s is to get them in front of lots and lots of people, and that’s not going to happen at 4 in the morning.

Continuing Woes

I switched to the new version of Blogger the other day. It worked fine the first time I used it, but I’ve had to re-write portions of this blog three or four times, as every time I try to “Save as Draft” or “Publish” it glitches out. Frustrating. Grrr… I had actually written a bit more on PSA’s, but it got lost, and so did my train of thought. I can’t remember the point I was making. Frustrating. Grrr…

If you’re reading this on Facebook, you can see the original blog at, click on “Blog.”

My Oh My


I don’t know if many family members read this, but Pops had back surgery Monday night, then again on Thursday night. Turns out he developed a blood clot in his spinal column from the first procedure. The clot cut off some pretty major nerves, but the second surgery (to remove the clot) was successful. So it looks like Pops will be okay. They don’t expect there to be permanent nerve damage (though it’s still a possibility), but it was kind of a rough week… He’s still in the hospital, they don’t know when he’ll be able to go home.

Unfortunately, I think I picked up a bug whilst visiting Pops. I feel rotten. Icky icky icky poo.


I finally had the option to switch to the new blogger. So I did. This is it. So far I don’t see any major differences (other than labels), but I haven’t poked around in the software’s innards yet either. If anyone has any problems reading my blog, please lemme know! I’m not sure I’ll be able to fix it, but at least I can be anxious and upset… So far I agree with Common Iowan – it seems easy to use and stable indeed! I really like their “g-mail” style spellchecker! The only glitch is that Blogger has e-mailed me some 23 messages saying that the transfer was complete, and I’d like to find a way to delete the AdSense module (in the past year of having ads on my blog I’ve earned less than a penny)…

On a related note – if anyone e-mails us at our regular e-mail addresses and doesn’t hear back from us, please don’t think we’re uppity or anything. It’s just that we get so much junk mail (well over 200 messages a day in one account) that some of the “good” mail is getting deleted by accident. You have my sincere apologies, but I really don’t know what to do, other than to encourage “real” people to use my gmail address when they send stuff to me. G-mail has an automatic filter that seems to be pretty reliable. I think. Maybe.

If you’re reading this on Facebook, you can see the original blog at, click on “Blog.”


Okay, okay… I know. This site hasn’t been updated in months and months. There IS a reason… My computer broke. Like my cat, it’s fixed now.

Unfortunately, when my computer blew up, it took this website with it. All I could find was a really old backup copy. So, if you happen to find any goofy mistakes, or out-of-date links, PLEASE let me know! I’m rebuilding this from memory, more or less. (And, the older I get, the less memory I seem to have.)