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A little history to get ya’ll up to speed.  My baby here . . . Miss Demure Restraint . . . will be four years old on December 1st.  She’s been a bit schizophrenic in the past, but she’s responding well to medication.  I guess in a lot of ways she’s a reflection of my personal head space.  So what does that say about me? Yeah, I’m a little on the crazy side, but then what sane person gets on the internet and blindly writes to an audience that may or may not be there? Only a whack job exposes himself to the potential rejection trauma such activities may and sometimes do result in.  I think being a little nuts is an inherent trait in the artistic temperament.  That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, MDR was rolling on down the road, enjoying the ride and ran head on into a block wall a little over two years ago.  An incident, I can only describe as a “cat fight” broke out between a couple of commenters on one of my posts.  I have to take responsibility as I had the power to not approve a comment, but was intimidated by the “acumen” of the commenter throwing the first punch.  Then I felt obligated to approve the offended party’s response.  Long story short . . . things got ugly . . . fast.  I posted an apology and removed the comments, but something was broken I couldn’t fix.   I struggled for a short time to continue, but it just wasn’t the same after that.  I pretty much quit blogging until the beginning of last month.

I have made every mistake known to man in this blog, maybe even a couple nobody ever thought of.  Some of the comments on yesterday’s post got me to thinking and that can be dangerous even painful.  Yes, the smell of burning brain cells fills the air as I sit pounding away on the laptop.  I figure I have from agonizing experience learned a few things which I feel compelled to share.   I have to start with a disclaimer . . . there is NO wrong way to blog.  What I offer here is just a little common sense (I know the ultimate oxymoron) and suggestions on applying the bloggy golden rule . . . treat your fellow bloggers the way you wish to be treated. 

  1. Turn on your comment moderation function.  You are responsible for the content of your blog and that includes the comments.  Comments can be rather like an untended child.  You take your eyes off them for a minute and they will run into the street directly in front of a bus.  There are trolls out there people!  They can overrun your blog in no time at all.  Some of you are fully capable of dealing with them, but make it a conscious decision to leave your front door unlocked.  Don’t imagine for a moment they wouldn’t do it to you.  Well, maybe not you Androgoth.  Any troll taking on a vampire king will quickly regret it.  You don’t have to approve a comment that is offensive to you, your readers or your other commenters.  Don’t fall into the trap I did of being intimidated into approving something you aren’t comfortable having as a permanent part of your blog.
  2. Respond to the commenters on your blog.  Come on, it’s not hard.  Somebody has taken the time to read your blog and leave you a comment.  That’s a big deal . . . for me it is.  There are many ways to accomplish this.  The easiest way I know is to reply to the comment on your own blog.  You can do it as part of the approval process.  If you have time to approve the comment, you can at least say “Thanks.”  I have known some people that send an e-mail response.  I just got one yesterday, as a matter of fact.  Still others will go to the commenter’s blog to respond.  I freely admit I have failed in the past to take this simple step.  I have no excuse, but stupidity and failure to engage my brain.  I’ve learned it is important to let people know their effort was appreciated by acknowledging them.  Duh!
  3. Comment on your commentors’ blogs.  I figure if they spent their precious time on me, it’s the least I can do.  I was never so impressed as when a couple of the “pressed to death” bloggers not only responded to my comments on their blogs, but actually managed to take the time to visit me and leave a comment.  Sure I hadn’t gotten to their blogs through “Freshly Pressed” and didn’t even see their “pressed” posts until much later.  Still, these guys found a way when they were dealing with an overwhelming response burden.  I think I can safely say we all love comments.  It feels good.  Payback people . . . payback.  Take the time.  Read a couple of posts.  Find something you can comment on.  The upside is you may find some interesting people and places you will visit regularly.
  4. Make relevant comments and don’t spam.  Read the posts you comment on.  Personally, I don’t want to sound like a lame, inappropriate blog monkey.  Get a feel for the tone of the overall blog.  I would never comment on Always Curtsy When You Sneeze or The Waiting the same way I comment on Angry Rant or Barking in the Dark.  It’s fine to say, “Love the post,” but try to say something pertinent about the post you are commenting on.   Never make a comment simply to promote your blog.  Its spamming, rude and jackassary in the extreme.  You have a link back to your blog when using your WordPress account or by providing your URL.   Set your Gravatar up to include your blog.  Don’t just show up and say, “You should see my blog . . . assclownspammer.com.” 

Okay, this post is now officially way too long, but I have to say one more thing.  The people you see commenting here are the best.  They have taught me to be a better member of the blog community and as different as each of them is, I believe, they represent what blogging should really be about.  They are also some of the best damn writers I’ve had the pleasure to read.

Play nice and people will play with you.  Be an ass clown and they will take their ball and go home.  Oh yeah, it never hurts to link to your buddies occasionally in your posts.  So, now for the fun part . . . its your turn.  What do you consider proper blog etiquette?  What are your pet peeves?

I must confess a horrible obsession.  I can’t leave the stats on WordPress alone.  This is not limited to my personal blog stats anymore, but has now expanded to include the general WordPress stats (i.e., bloggers, new posts, comments, words posted).  These numbers change daily.  I have been following them compulsively since the great “pressed to death” event. You may have notice that in October the “Freshly Pressed” featured blogs went unchanged for an extended period of time.  The trend I’ve noticed has disturbed me to the point of paranoia.  I have sought solace from my blog friends, but succeed only in having instilled some of them with trepidation matching my own.  

I have scoured the forum looking for any explanation, but haven’t had the gumption to actually pose the question to the WordPress gods.  You don’t tug on Superman’s cape; you don’t spit in the wind; you don’t pull the mask off that ole Lone Ranger; and you don’t mess around with . . . well, you get where I’m going with this.  I don’t know what would happen if I pissed them off, but I don’t imagine it would be good.  No “Freshly Pressed” for you! Ever again!  I might simply vanish from the face of the Blogosphere like one of the bloggers in the stats.  I may well wake up to find disembodied horse head wallpaper on my laptop.  All my posts could mysteriously be turned to drivel.  Oh wait, most of them are drivel already.

Where have all the bloggers gone?  When I started blogging again, the beginning of last month, there were something like 409,000+ bloggers.  Over the course of about three weeks the number dropped to 403,000ish.  That’s around 2,000 per week vanishing without a trace.  So that rate of decline could be accounted for reasonably, right?  Even if this downward spiral continued at a steady pace, it would take almost four years for everyone to be gone . . . plenty of time to reverse the trend. 

Alarmingly, that number escalated to roughly 2,000 a day gone, lost, absent, MIA!  At this startling new rate of loss, there will be no one left in just over six months.  Perhaps my concern is unfounded.  I don’t know exactly where the money comes from to keep the power on at WordPress.  Perhaps some wealthy philanthropist foots the bill to keep the juice flowing for all of us fat, dumb and happy bloggers.  I’ve always believed in the concept of “no free lunch.”  So far as my experience with WordPress, it’s been an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord with no end in sight.  At what point will WordPress be “hard pressed” to keep the steam trays full? 

Last Week:  The best of 396,236 bloggers, 439,873 new posts, 475,710 comments, & 104,765,675 words posted today on WordPress.com.

Today:  The best of 357,326 bloggers, 426,717 new posts, 449,361 comments, & 103,793,313 words posted today on WordPress.com

Do the math . . . the ranks of the missing is running over five thousand a day now.  We are shrinking!  Is everybody leaving for other destinations?  Facebook?  Goggle+?  Blogspot?  Is WordPress becoming obsolete? I don’t know what’s up.  Does anyone else know?  Anybody, anybody?

Late Breaking Update:  WordPress is making a remarkable comeback.  The new stats for today:  The best of 408,784 bloggers, 418,064 new posts, 448,969 comments, & 100,717,797 words posted today on WordPress.com.  That’s . . . like . . . over 50,000 bloggers back.  It is obvious that I have no clue what these numbers are all about.  Or maybe the WordPress Gods are trying to reassure me.  You never know.

I’m of two minds when it comes to these blog awards.  First, I’m always honored to have my writing recognized in any way, shape or form.  This one is especially surprising because I don’t really know the blogger bestowing it.  Thank you, Angel Land Canada, I am most grateful. You can be sure I have already been checking out your site.  Second, I believe it is a great way to find new and interesting blogs to read.  That’s the angel sitting on my right shoulder.   The devil on my left is whispering, “Run away.  You remember what happened last time.”  To fill you in, last time I got a blog award it was a precursor to going into blog hiding for almost two years.  Well, let’s give this another go.

I am passing this award on to 15 blogs I personally follow:

Now I’m supposed to reveal seven things about myself. 

  1. I’m a Wikipedia junkie  . . . I will search anything and I do it all the time.
  2. I have a lhasa apso named Rocky that talks . . . he also happy dances with me when no one is around.
  3. I’m a failed computer graphic artist . . . I never could color inside the lines or release artist license.
  4. I met my best friend through this blog . . . we’ve been friends almost four years now.
  5. I’m a natural blonde . . . the carpet matches the drapes . . . TMI?
  6. I won’t eat any meat still on the bone . . . it’s too much like eating an animal . . . I know . . . meat = animal, but if I don’t see the bones I can handle it.
  7. I was Chinese in a past life . . . I know this because I could eat Chinese every day, three meals a day.

So, there it is.  The important thing is for you to check out the blogs I’ve linked here.  They are awesome.

Mum was only going to be living with me for six weeks, maybe two months.  That was nine, long months ago.  I love my Mum.  She is sweet and well-intentioned.  She is much sweeter than I am.  I would do anything for her.  I am now, however, on the verge of losing my mind.  Patience . . . I’m not sure when that deserted me but I think it was somewhere between the Chubby Checker debate and the blog debacle.  Maybe I’m just crazy.  That is Mum’s opinion anyway.  It is an art form . . . caring for your parent . . . a highly underrated art form.

Remember the Twist . . . the song and dance that became a worldwide phenomenon in 1960 when Cubby Checker’s cover of the song hit the Billboard Hot 100.  That’s how it happened in my reality.  Mum, she remembers doing the twist at her high school dances.  The only problem is that she graduated from high school in 1954.  “No, Mum, you couldn’t have.  The song wasn’t out yet.”  “I did too.  You can’t remember that, you weren’t even born.”  “Look Mum.  See Wikipedia says . . .” “Wiki-whatever-ia wasn’t there either.” “Okay, Mum.  You did the Twist in high school.”  Divergent time streams, that’s all I can come up with.

I know each generation has their own particular style and I’m no fashionista, but come on.  “Mum, that shirt doesn’t go with those pants.”  “They’re the same color.” “But the shirt is plaid and the pants are striped.  Besides those pants are too big.”  “I like these pants.”  “Mum, they are falling off!”  “I thought that was the style now days.”  “For teenage, rapper dudes, Mum, not women in their 70’s.” “Are you saying I’m too old to be trendy?”   “Fine, let’s just go to the store.”  I try hard not to notice the stares from people thinking I’m some kind of elder abuse offender.

We also speak different languages.  “I forgot my water in the bedroom” means “Please get my water from the bedroom.”  “I need to do laundry today” means “Please do my laundry today.”  I have learned to focus on keywords like a computer search engine . . . water bedroom . . . laundry today . . . then I’m able to extrapolate the most likely meaning.  It works most of the time.  Just like a search engine, sometimes I need more information.  “What are you doing?”  Now, that can mean “I’m bored” or “I’m hungry” or “I don’t feel well” or any number of other things.  What I finally figured out is she doesn’t want to know what I’m doing and more input is needed for proper translation.

I made the mistake of actually telling her what I was doing recently and that lead to the blog incident.  Now I know Mum thinks my writing is a huge waste of time.  This is nothing new.  It started when I was in grade school.  Back then it was . . . “What are you doing?”  “Writing a story.”  “Is it homework?” “No.”  “Is your homework done?” “Yes.” “Then go outside and play.”  I fully accepted long ago that she thinks anything is a better use of my talents than writing.  I don’t know why I thought the current event would be any different.

I was merrily doing my happy dance around the house earlier this month in celebration of a huge blog accomplishment.  I had written a post about a local celebrity . . . Phoenix Jones, the real life superhero.  Anyway, he and his wife saw it, liked it and posted a link on his Facebook page.  I mean how cool is that?  They liked it enough to share it with his fans at a time when the media spotlight had focused on him like a laser beam.  It was as good as being “Freshly Pressed.”  More people than I ever dreamed were reading my blog!

Enter Mum.  “What are you doing?”  In my excitement I forgot the training of a lifetime and told her about my blog (first time in four years).  “Can I read it?”  I should have known this was a trap, but I walked right into it.  “You wrote this?”  “I did.”  “I don’t get it.  Aren’t you supposed to be looking for work?” “Yes, Mum.  I’m doing that right now.”  Yeah, my feelings were hurt, but hey, what did I expect?  I know she loves me and wants what is best for me.  She’s 100% right.  What I need more than anything is a job.  The bottom line is that Mum and I are very different people.   It doesn’t diminish our love and caring for one another.  Mum’s from Venus and I’m from Alpha Centauri.

It’s almost over.  I should be sleeping in my own bed very soon.  My aching back!  The peddler of futon sleep preeminence swore the mattress he sold me – memory foam and all – was as good as any I have ever slept on.  May he writhe in a lumpy, back-breaking innerspring purgatory to atone for his transgressions against the spines of trusting customers like moi’.  In other words, he lied or mislead at the very least.  Curse him.  I just had to get that out of my system.  Anyway, Mum will be returning to her home in the next couple of weeks.  It’s a good thing for both of us.

I’ve been cruisin’ WordPress Boulevard on my beater HP . . . the one with a cigarette burn between the 6 and 9 on the numeric pad; enough crumbs in the keyboard to feed a family of four for a week; peeling “Designed for Life” and “Time to Play” stickers; ever expanding dark spot on the display; and DVD tray that flops open at will.  Yes . . .

This is my laptop.
There are many others like it, but this one is mine.
My laptop is my best friend.
It is my life.

You cannot imagine how long I’ve been trying to work that into a post.  With that done, I can get back to what I was saying.  I saw a lot of amazing stuff as I meandered up and down Blog Street.  Some of it blew my socks off.  Some of it perplexed me.  Some of it frightened me.  Some of it turned me green with envy.  I was enlightened, entertained, educated, enthused and encouraged by what I found.  But one site stood out from the crowd and I just can’t stop thinking about it.  I can’t find it again either, so I will simple have to recount the story of my amazing discovery.

Now, I understand there are blogs out there raising money for some very noble and deserving causes.  I always figured that was why WordPress provided a means to accept donations through PayPal.  It never occurred to me that anyone would actual use the tool in quite the way this blogger did.  Believe me, I scoured the site for any hint of a charitable connection.  This whiz kid must have thought they had been “Freshly Pressed” based on the hit count I generated in their stats.  I left no post unread, no page unscanned, no link unclicked.  I was meticulous in my examination. 

There was but one conclusion I could make.  This yahoo wanted my money for no reason other than the magnificence of their blog.  I know we all think our little piece of blogostate has value beyond measure.  Many of us would love nothing more than to win the blog lottery and get published, even – dare I say it – paid for our brilliance.  We rejoice when someone appreciates our work enough to leave a comment.  We celebrate when the number of visitors increases.  We do little happy dances in our PJs when we triumphantly reach each new milestone.  Well, I do anyway. 

I have not before seen or heard of anybody with the audacity to solicit funds based strictly on the breathtaking splendor of their electronic wonderfulness.  I don’t know if this WordPress wunderkind is a genius or a moron.  Has anyone, prior to myself that is, ever clinked on that Donate/Paypal icon?  I did have to chuckle as little blogger buddy had been thoughtful enough to fill in the “purpose” portion of the screen with their blog’s moniker.  I wonder if you can take a tax deduction for such a donation?

Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Still . . . simpleton or brainiac?  Perhaps there’s money to be made.  Would my legion(sic) of followers pay for the awesomeness of my blog?  You did read the part about the decrepitude of my laptop, right?

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