GOOGLE BUMPS

For my first three years of blogging, I got around 100, then 200, then 250 to 300 views per day. In year four, it slid up to around 350 to 400. Where it stayed, showing a gradual, slow but steady upward movement with occasional shots of one post being exceptionally popular.

At the beginning of this year, we started getting more than 400 regularly. Which was — I thought — phenomenal. On October 10, 2017, something else happened. Suddenly, we shot upward to 500 and started getting bumps to 700 and 800. But the funny thing was, the regular posts were not doing better than usual. They were doing pretty much the same as they always been.

It was a “Google” bump. For no reason, Google had found us and we were getting hundreds of hits. It kept going up until it hit 1400 in the beginning of November. Which was crazy. Blogs like this don’t get those numbers. It stayed up there for a few days, then started to drop.

I did not expect it to stay in those numbers. The archives were getting all the action. Old blogs were being read by a lot of people — which was fun — but I knew it would not last.

Stat bumps are not “normal” growth. Somehow, some way, your blog gets picked up by Google or some other search engine. For a while, everyone who looks for something finds you at the top of the list, so thousands of people come and read archived posts. Some visitors will sign on and become regulars, but most will show up once, maybe twice, then disappear. They came to see one post, maybe read a second one while they were at it, but your “real” daily numbers haven’t changed. Without the input from Google — or whatever search engine found you — you are right where you were before the bump. It’s a bit startling and dramatic when all that activity drops off — and you are left with your normal feedback. Even though you knew it wouldn’t last, you sort of hoped it would.

Sure enough, we dropped back to pretty much where we were before the big bump. Riding “high” was fun, but it isn’t realistic. We are not a news service and we don’t get huge numbers of readers for posts.

The thing is, blogging is not about statistics, unless for you it’s a business. It’s communication with the people who follow you. You follow them, they follow you. You feed each other ideas and give each other encouragement. The actual writing of a blog is only half the fun. The rest is people and relationships. The ideas you get from reading other people’s material.

Also — popularity isn’t always as much fun as you think it will be. I spend a huge amount of time writing, photographing, processing pictures. Keeping track of what’s scheduled. I answer all my comments and sometimes, I end up using a full day just answering comments. It is fun — but it eats a lot of time and it’s hard to find room for other things.

Luckily, I don’t have that much else to do. Usually.

With a few exceptions, I’ve talked to the entire world!

Like other people who blog a lot, I love it. I love the people, the ideas, the stimulation. I don’t get out into the world the way I did when I was younger. If it weren’t for blogging, I’d be isolated and probably lonely.

The thing to remember, for all of us, is statistics bounce around. A great few months can be followed — entirely unexpectedly — by a serious drop in readership. Why? People move on. WordPress messes with the software and you lose a few thousand followers. And sometimes, you hit a lull. If you aren’t blogging for the numbers — if you are doing it because you genuinely love writing or posting pictures or whatever it is you do — then a drop in your stats doesn’t change anything.

Remind me of that the next time I lose 800 views a day — in one night!

NO GREMLINS AT THE FESTIVITIES

Gremlins? What are you saying about my family? Is that some kind of bizarre racist attack? We have some strange family members, but no one has ever called them … gremlins. I think there may be one on my son’s lawn, though. I’m not sure. I’ll have to look.

In line with it being Thanksgiving today, I will offer you the best, fastest, simplest cranberry relish recipe anywhere.


FRESH CRANBERRY RELISH

1 bag of fresh cranberries, uncooked (as in raw)

1 fresh orange (get one of the thin-skinned oranges with juice inside)

1 cup sugar


DIRECTIONS

I hope you have a food processor. If you don’t, you might be able to do it in a blender, but you’ll need one of these two machines. The processor is the better choice.

  1. Pour the cranberries into the food processor. (Don’t forget to put the blade in first.)
  2. Cut the orange into bite-sized pieces. Dump them into the food processor, too.
  3. Add one cup of plain, white sugar — or brown sugar. I’ve used both and it’s fine either way.
  4. If you feel like it, add some cinnamon. I make two — one with cinnamon, one plain.
  5. Turn the machine on and leave it on until the whole thing is the texture of applesauce.
  6. Put it in a container with a lid and store it in the refrigerator. It’s ready to go.

You can add a half a lemon (cut up) if you like, or a bit of lemon juice, but it’s unnecessary.


Great with turkey. Actually it’s great with anything. I eat it like dessert!

THE “WE DON’T EAT THAT” FAMILY FOOD LIST

It’s that time of year again when we all get together to share one giant meal. It’s amazing we manage it because it’s not like we all have a passion for the same food. We are all very particular, each in our own way.

I’m medium to a little bit brave. As long as they don’t put anything weird in the dish — snails or things that actually move — I’m mostly okay. Things that turned out to be edible include alligator, which does not taste like chicken. It’s much closer to squid. I like fish and shellfish, but what do you call squid? Emu tastes like the dark meat on the turkey. Well, it’s a very big bird, so I guess it stands to reason.

I refused to consider horse. I’m very fond of horses. I don’t eat my friends, regardless of whether they have hooves or toes. I tried pheasant long ago. It is basically chicken, but kind of dry. Chicken tastes better. Buffalo is so close to beef if they didn’t tell you, you might not know, but it cooks faster because it’s lower in fat. Hard to keep buffalo rare. The cuts are different too, but it is a different creature.

Garry WILL eat anything, at least once. Except for PEAS, OATMEAL, CUT CORN (but he’ll eat corn on the cob), or LIMA BEANS. Owen won’t go near any kind of fish, eggplant, mushrooms, or beets. All those things taste like dirt to him. My granddaughter won’t eat any kind of pepper — green, red, yellow, orange. NO peppers. But she can tank down sushi with my husband and that’s saying something.

 

I don’t like anchovies, snails, or octopus. Squid’s okay if it’s properly cooked. I love shrimp and lobster, but usually I don’t eat lobster because it’s too messy. There so much digging around weird body parts. It gets overly intimate for my taste.

Nobody in the family likes turkey. We have lamb on holidays.

I like hot (spicy hot) food and so does Garry as long as it doesn’t chemically remove his teeth, but no one else in the family will touch it. Garry, me and Kaity will beg for sushi, but everyone else whines about raw fish. Fools. They don’t know what “good” is.  This is not even going into actual allergies which include (without naming names): green pepper, mussels, and duck. Duck? Yes, duck.

It’s remarkable we ever manage to eat together at all. We are lucky. No one is a vegan,vegetarian, or Glatt Kosher.

TRANSFORMATION: BREAKING THE ICE ON THE BLACKSTONE

TRANSFORMATION AND THE BREAKING OF THE ICE ON THE RIVER – FEBRUARY 2017

It took these last February when we had a sudden heat wave that brought mid-February temperatures in the 70s and 80s. We’d had a fair bit of snow by then. All the rivers were solidly iced. There were piles of snow everywhere.

Along came the heat. It took a few days, but the ice began to break. The snow-pack started to melt. We were walking around in short sleeves and I would have worn sandals, but the ground was the slushy, muddy mix you get as the snows of winter soak into the ground. A strange time to be out and shooting pictures.
The following week, temperatures returned to more normal levels, though not as cold as they had been before the heat of summer hit us in the middle of February. These pictures are all the breaking of the ice and the melting of the snow-pack.

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

NEW, NAUGHTY, NASTY OR NASTURTIUM … WHAT’S A PHOTOGRAPHER TO DO?

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter N – Needs to start with the letter N


Native American Drum

New season is born: the winter solstice

Nesting dogs before Thanksgiving

Noses

GARRY ARMSTRONG – WITH LBJ IN VIETNAM

Lyndon Baines Johnson was the 36th President of the United States, from 1963 to 1969. As President, he designed “Great Society” legislation, including civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, environmental protection, aid to education and the arts, urban and rural development, and a “War on Poverty”.

Johnson’s civil rights bills banned racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce, the workplace, and housing. It included a voting rights act that guaranteed the right to vote for all U.S. citizens, of all races. Passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 reformed the country’s immigration system, eliminating national origins quotas.

The push to get his legislation through ended Johnson’s political career. He called in every favor, bullied, cajoled, and bargained to get the needed votes. He got it done, but if any politician ever fell on his sword for what he believed was right, LBJ was that guy. Johnson was renowned for his domineering personality and his readiness to do whatever it took to advance his legislative goals.


Location: A campfire in Vietnam near Saigon.

Year: 1967.

1967 and 1968 were very intense years for me. I had jumped directly from college and small time commercial radio, to ABC Network News. The time was right and the opportunity was there, but I was a kid thrust suddenly into the big leagues. My journalistic baptism started with the 6-day war in the Middle East which began on my first day at ABC. My professional life continued with the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, the volatile 1968 Presidential campaigns and a long visit to Vietnam, the first of several.

At headquarters in New York, my assignment was to receive reports from ABC’s field correspondents. I’d speak with them over static-riddled phone lines. Difficult to hear for anyone, harder for me. The daily MACV — or war front reports — were often significantly different from what the Pentagon reported. It was disturbing, worrying. Then, they sent me to Vietnam.

The sights, sounds and smells of Vietnam are still with me, 50 years later.

ABC needed a grunt to help the news team covering President Johnson’s visit to Vietnam. I was it. My job required I not allow myself to be distracted from the work at hand. I was a young reporter still learning the ropes. I had to stay focused on the story and exclude the other harrowing images around me.

LBJ vietnam 1967It was a typical evening, the never-ending noise of artillery in the background. It was what was called “down time.” Dinner around a campfire. GI’s, South Vietnamese soldiers, politicians and news media, all hunkered down for chow. Everything was off the record. Chow was beans and some unknown local meat. Most of us ate the beans. Skipped the meat.

President Johnson or L J as he told us to call him, squatted at the point of the campfire and told some colorful tales about dealing with his pals in the Senate and Congress. The stories were punctuated with smiles and profanities. L J was drinking from a bottle which he passed around. Good stuff.

Halfway through dinner, the beans began to resonate. The smell was pungent! I must’ve had a funny look on my face because L J gave me a withering stare and asked if I had a problem. I remember sounding like a squeaky 16-year-old as I responded “No sir.” L J guffawed and passed the bottle back to me.

Before completing his trip, President Johnson confided to some of us that seeing Vietnam up close confirmed his worst fears. He broadly hinted he was unlikely to seek re-election, given the backlash of Vietnam back home in the States. I thought he sounded like one of my cowboy heroes putting duty above personal gain.

But it wasn’t a movie. It was the real thing. History,

The following day was my final encounter with Lyndon Baines Johnson. There were handshakes, a smile about our campfire evening and L J was again President Lyndon Johnson, one of the truly great American presidents.

WORDPRESS IS ON THE FRITZ AGAIN

“On the Fritz” is a pre World War I (circa 1902), originally meaning “in a bad way” or “in bad condition.” Typically, it is the malfunctioning of an appliance, possibly originating from the German name Fritz, or by onomatopoeia as in imitating the sound of electric sparks jumping.


I think you could call this a transformative experience. Last month and until a week ago, we had the highest view numbers I’ve ever seen in a non-commercial blog and this week, we are barely managing to stay afloat.

I’ve watched stat numbers bounce around over the more than five years I’ve been doing this, but this was a drop like nothing I’ve seen before. I shrugged it off. I didn’t actually know something was broken. I figured it was us — and because I don’t use the new editor, I didn’t bump into the complete dysfunctionality of that software, which apparently isn’t working. At all. What I did discover is that we are 75% lower in views with no sign of a bounce back. A 75% drop is a lot. More than a typical bounce.

So I went to the Reader and saw how many people who usually have active blogs now show vastly reduced views … and apparently, the “like” is broken because there were so few of them. All the ones I’d entered were missing, too.

On this site, the “Like” has been erratic for a while. Personally, my likes and comments have been doing a vanishing act. They look normal when I enter them, but if I go and look — lost in the great virtual beyond. This isn’t the first time this has happened. If you’ve been lurking around WordPress for more than a few years, you’ve seen this happen, get fixed, happen, get fixed to the point where you don’t get excited so much as you get a migraine. Eventually they will fix it, but when? Could be very soon, like … today or tomorrow. Or it could be a month or more.

So if you haven’t heard from me, I’m not ignoring you. Something is broken. Again. Others are finding it difficult to get in touch with the engineers. I haven’t tried yet. This is such a major outage and seems to be affecting many people — thus far mostly American — the staff must have noticed. The engineering staff can’t miss this, can they?

If I don’t start to hear that it’s improving somewhere, I’ll dig in and try to get someone’s attention but generally, I ride these WordPress storms out. After a while, it settles down. If my problems persist when the storm dies away, THEN I get in touch with engineering.  Try not to let it get to you. This stuff can make you crazy, especially when you’ve been working hard and your posts come to nothing because they have “fixed” the software.

I do not mind them fixing the software. I mind them failing to test it to make sure it works before dumping it on their customers. And we really ARE their customers. Apparently, they don’t see it the same way we do.

Let me know if anyone sees an improvement — or actually talks to an engineer and has information!