Responsive At Last

Which is blurry, the image or my brain?

Which is blurry, the image or my brain? After hours of changing blog colors, I am unsure.

I can be incredibly unaware of my surroundings. I can walk through a place I have lived for years and think, “hey, is that light fixture new?” and of course the answer is never yes.

If you aren’t like me, you will have noticed that I have changed the look of my blog.

I am happy with this new layout and I love being able to change the header picture with each click. I’m less settled on this color scheme. Everything I thought I would like wound up too industrial, too lurid, or too Easter. I may revert back to black words on a pale background. (Actually, there are glitches in older posts and some text is black on the current background. Tsk.) But this is the new blog for now. I can’t experiment with more colors until I recover from color palette psychosis.

The most important change is that this blog design works much much better on phones and tablets. The term is responsive. This blog now has a responsive design.

I’ve learned that term and made these changes as part of the WordPress Blogging 201 challenge, which is proving quite valuable and has made it easy to tackle changes and additions I’ve meant to make for some time.

What do you think of the changes? What’s better now? What still needs work? Do you miss anything from Required Writing Mach I?

Or are you reading this because you had a typo when you searched on required wiring?

P.S. I’ve changed content too. Can you find where? Hint: check the top menus.

P.P.S. The image comes from an on-line science mag for Cambridge U., and a fascinating article on synesthesia, a condition where the senses blend together (for example, for some people, sounds come with colors). I’m almost grateful for the color palette psychosis that led me to that article…

Throw Your Two Cents Into the Ring

 Over the next whenever*, I will be changing the look of my blog.

Now would be an excellent time to let me know what you wish I’d change or hope I’ll keep.

* I won’t specify a time frame – I don’t want to annoy the free time gods. They are vengeful gods.

I am excited to try something new. It may turn out to be a makeover. Or a touch up. A sandblast. Or an unfortunate detour.


Photo by D. Saville for FEMA.

Who Would It Be And Why?

I’ve seen questions like this before, but never considered my own answer before.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?

Recently Michael invited me to do an author interview on his blog. This being the internet, I’ve never met Michael, but he certainly seems like an interesting fellow – a video game producer and writer with a blog name that applies to all of us: The Cult of Me. All that aside, Michael was not how I answered the question. That would have been too simple. In fact, the question sent my mind bouncing like a ping pong ball in a windstorm. Below is my answer. What is yours?

You wouldn’t believe the struggle I’ve had with this question. Over the years, I’ve encountered many brilliant, talented, or famous people so I know that having a gift doesn’t guarantee that you will be interesting or fun – or pleasant. And I want this day to be truly special. So first, I nerded out. (What if we don’t speak the same language? What if they take longer than a day to get to know? What if they’re heroes who turn out to be jerks?) Eventually I broke out of this spiral by reminding myself that this is the dream sequence part of the interview. Then I couldn’t decide my motivation. Did I want to learn something (the Buddha), be inspired (Thoreau), meet a hero (John Lennon), solve a mystery (the Shakespeares), have a great conversation (Einstein), have some laughs (Mae West), share an adventure (Michael Connelly)? Next I paused, troubled, because I didn’t have enough women on the list. I paused again because so few of my personal heroes made the list. Then I realized that maybe I could select someone living, which changed everything! Finally, I wished that the question included fictional characters.

At last I forced myself to make a damn choice, with two runners-up in case we have scheduling conflicts.

 First choice: Beatrix Potter. We would wander her country estate, while chatting and observing stuff; and I would watch her draw.

 Second choice: Thelonious Monk. We would have conversations I mostly didn’t understand while walking around New York; and then I would sit in on a gig.

 Third choice: Tolstoy during his last, visionary and/or crazy days when he lived at the train station. He would talk and I would take notes.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

WP Twilight Zone

You might want to ignore this post. It is a test to see if a peculiar WordPress message is correct. At least some WP users (including me) this morning see a notice demanding confirmation of our email addresses. We are warned that if we do not confirm our emails, we cannot publish posts. To confirm, we need to respond to an email that WP allegedly sent. We got no such email. And when we click on the link to “Resend Email” nothing happens… or anyway, nothing happens that is visible to us.

As a conspiracy theorist, I now believe that this notice is the work of a hacker and that something nefarious occurs when we click on the “resend email” link.

Anyway, now I am testing to see whether I can still publish without having confirmed my email address. If you see this post, that substantiates my conspiracy theory.

What an exciting Monday morning!

How Long Is That In Dog Years?

Today is a milestone: Required Writing is one year old. So. Is my blog a toddler? An adolescent? A septuagenarian?

How does a blog lifetime compare to a human’s? We don’t yet know what the maximum lifespan of a blog is, do we? Clearly, many of them die young, after scant months or a handful of years. But how long might a blog keep going? Should it? Can we look to some other realm of pop culture for a comparison?

The Tonight Show?

Days of Our Lives?

The Fast and the Furious?

The New Yorker?

Mad Magazine?

Rolling Stone?

The Rolling Stones?

The Sex Pistols?

Dear Abby?

James Dean?

Betty White?

What do you think the right comparison should be? I confess I have no clue. Should I want my blog to live fast, die young, and make a good looking corpse?* And I hope I immediately know when it is time to go. Like the song** says, it’s better to burn out than it is to rust. Although I would prefer to do neither. My goal is to keep writing until it is time to stop. 


* What movie is this from? Anybody?
**The song being “Hey hey my my”, which Neil Young wrote about the advent of punk (with some lyrics derived from Devo’s days as copy writers, and the ad campaign Rust never sleeps). Or was that “My my hey hey.” For obvious reasons, I always mix those two up.

Today’s Lessons in Haste and Humility

Lesson Number 1: When your blog post has links, check each link before publishing.

I’m thinking you don’t need details to imagine how this lesson came to be.

Lesson Number 2: Do not rely on Pages‘ spell- or grammar-checker.

I much prefer Apple’s word-processing software, Pages, to Microsoft Word. But then I hate Word and avoid it whenever I can. Thus it grieves me to report that Word could be superior to Pages in any way. But here is one way. A big way!

When I prepared my psychological thriller, WAS IT A RAT I SAW, for serialization on this blog, I did the typing in Pages. I did the spellchecking in Pages. I copied each serial chapter from Pages. However, to prepare the book for e-publication on Smashwords, I had to move the manuscript into Word. It was then that I discovered the typos. In well nigh every chapter.

Typos! Everywhere!

Typos! Everywhere!

I so hate typos. I assume my readers do too. Fortunately, none of these typos changed meanings, but that is limited consolation.

For those of you who read RAT in serial, mea culpa and lo siento. I hope I can make it up to you. Come back tomorrow – the next post here will detail how to get a free e-copy of RAT with all those typos corrected.

Mind you I’m not saying it’s typo free. That’s a promise I can’t make and I’m not alone.  I can’t remember the last time I read a book that had a zero typo count.  In defense of current typo standards:  I was stunned at how many typos I found in the old hardcover version of WAS IT A RAT I SAW, which I re-visited to serialize. As I recall, the Bantam-Doubleday-Dell copy editor and I spent 37 months in proof-reading before that edition was finalized. At the time, I thought no typos had escaped scrutiny. I was wrong.

Dearest Blog, I Once Was Cool!

Dearest Blog,

I have neglected you of recent. Although I miss you, I cannot say why I’ve gone silent nor when it will end.

It was no fun to contemplate life without this big doofus.

Certainly, I have my reasons. First, I went away for a week of family reunions. By the time I got home, my special buddy, the enormous former kitten Leo, had gone missing, and the next 2.5 days I was in a terrible funk until I found him.

Next, I came down with a cold. It’s on the wane, thanks for asking. I’ve also found myself low on energy vis a vis the government shutdown. My day job paycheck is on furlough as I am a “non-essential” employee; and although it looks like eventually the lost pay will return to me, I don’t know when or how much. The cold and my furlough ennui are probably related. (My very personal response to this week’s Writing Challenge.)

Besides which, I found a tick! On me! Eeeewwww. Which led to hours with medicos, and an antiviral shot.

Meanwhile, I’ve been immersed in my first sit-down re-read of my newly completed fantasy-mystery novel FRAMES. At this stage, I don’t allow myself to make changes, I try to keep a more global perspective and  make notes in margins about what needs to change. The goal is to read the whole book in as few sittings as possible.

Also meanwhile, I confess I’ve been struggling to limit the amount of time I spend reading Pete Townshend’s memoir: it’s kept me hooked through 400 pages so far.

More for the Strange World files. Now the visionary rebel Fela has become a Broadway musical.

More for the Strange World files. Now the visionary rebel Fela has become a Broadway musical.

Then, yesterday, when I thought I would finish my re-reading and reading, instead I got sucked into my son’s impromptu project to organize my record collection. He has recently laid long-term claim to my albums, but sought help organizing them. Alphabetical has never worked for me when it comes to browsing. So we spent many hours sorting into initial piles like R-&-B-rock-intersection or New-York-junkie-music. Some of the sorting stymied me. I mean where do you put Ike & Tina Turner? Sun Ra? Richard Thompson? Should the Blasters LPs stand alongside X because of historical context and abiding friendship, or next to David Lindley, another lover of roots guitar? Guess that’s how alphabetical listings got started…

It was great fun to give my son a few albums immediately. Turns out the 20 y.o.s are getting back into Joy Division, and I still don’t like ’em, so now my son is the proud owner of their first LP. (Mint condition, unlike the LPs I did like.) At one point I was rewarded when he said with bemusement, “Mom, it’s hard to say this but you used to be really cool.” Which reminded me of how I came to write SCAR JEWELRY.