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A Few Updates

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It has been quiet here on the blog for a few week, but that’s because things have been busy lately. I figured I’d jump in here to say that, yes, there are more posts coming, and yes, I am working on getting back to a regular rhythm. Here are a few things that have been keeping me busy lately, all of which I’ll be writing about more in the near future:

  1. A few people may have noticed that my list of books I’ve read since 1996 has changed. Clicking the link takes you to a different site: notes.jtrwriter.com. What’s that all about? Well, I occasionally get questions about the books I read, like if I have any notes or summaries I’ve written. At the same time, I’ve been wanting to automate my reading lists, as well as capture my entire book collection in more detail than I have done so in the past. And while I’m at it, I want to include all of my reading-related notes. To do this, I am using Obsidian. I’ll have much more to say on this in future posts, but the pages I’ve posted to notes.jtrwriter.com, including my reading lists, are just the beginning. (And for those who are wondering, I am using Obsidian Publish to generate the pages there). In addition, if you are interested in what I am reading or writing at any given time, you can check out my “now” page there. Stay-tuned.
  2. I have been writing fiction every day. I’ve found that, given the time I have available in day, it is difficult for me to work on a story and write a blog post. I recently revamped my morning routine–something I’ll be writing about soon–and have been trying to see if I can find a way to fit both blog writing and fiction writing into my routine. I have been prioritizing the fiction writing for now. More on this coming soon.
  3. My random article reading at breakfast has been going well. I like not having that decision to make, and also look forward to whatever article might pop up for that morning. I’ve been posting these on Twitter each morning, and now that I’ve gotten into the flow of it, I’ll have more to say about that soon as well.

I’ve have other things to write about as well, including something on bats (the mammals), and something else on… well, you’ll just have to wait to find out.

I just wanted to pop in to make sure you knew that I was still alive and well, and plugging away, and that I will be back here posting shortly. In the meantime, while I’ve given up Facebook (and haven’t missed it!) I am active on Twitter just about every day, so you can always follow along on the days that I don’t post here, if you are so inclined.

Written on September 20, 2022.

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Upcoming Changes to the Blog Schedule

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I wanted to let you know about some upcoming changes to the blog schedule. Beginning on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, I am going to begin publishing posts here 3 days a week, instead of every day. You expect new post on Tuesdays, Thursday, and Sundays.

May 15th was the 500th consecutive day that I have published new posts here on the blog. There are two main reasons why I am giving up the streak and reverting to a lighter scheduled:

  1. I have started to write fiction again. After more than five years of writer’s block it feels good to be writing again. This fiction writing has created a time conflict. I’ve found the time immediately after my morning walk, when the house is still quiet, to do this writing. It so happens that this was the time that I did the bulk of my blog writing. But the fiction writing is going well and I want to encourage that, so I’m sacrificing some of the blog writing time in its favor.
  2. Writing for the blog nearly every day for the last 500 days is beginning to wear on me. I want it to remain fresh and fun. I want to avoid being too repetitive here. I think cutting back to publishing 3 posts a week will help with that. It gives me more breathing room and more time to think of ideas for things to write about.

This doesn’t mean that there won’t be the occasional Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday that a post will appear. But my goal will be to publish 3 posts a week to lighten my load to that I can focus a little more on some of my other writing.

During the 509 day streak, I wrote 621 posts for a total of 455,000 words. Not bad for a hobby!

I imagine there are many joyous readers right now who think that even three days a week too much of my writing to bear. Those readers can look forward to the days when I post nothing. Of course, every post I’ve ever written (more than 7,100 of them) is still here for people to read. A good starting point for those who want some variety is my curated index to the blog.

Just remember that Wednesday, May 25, 2022 will be the first day in 509 days that there will be no new post published. Don’t worry. There will be a new one on Thursday, and then Sunday, and then Tuesday, etc., etc.

As always, I’m grateful for all my readers here and I hope you’ll stick around, despite the lighter schedule.

Written on Thursday, May 19, 2022.

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The Case of the Missing Blog Post

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This morning, for a period of about two minutes, a blog post appeared here on the blog with the title, “Character Counts Commentaries.” Then it was gone. I thought an explanation was in order.

As regular readers know, I set a goal for myself this year to write two posts each day and thus build up a backlog of posts, scheduled in advance, in order to give me some breathing room for the days on which I was either too busy to write, or didn’t have the ideas or motivation to write. Overall, this has been going pretty well. As of today, I have posts scheduled in advance through April 18. Obviously, this means that I haven’t been writing two posts every day. If I had done from the start of the years, I’d already have posts scheduled through June. But I do pretty good, and 18 days of pre-scheduled posts is the most I have had at any point so far this year.

Regular readers also know that this is essentially a one-man operation (although I do have friendly eyes who keep on the lookout for typos in my posts). As such, I do pretty much everything here on my own. I write the posts, schedule the posts, set up the social media notifications for the posts. I do this among the usual chaos of busy days filled with the needs of three kids, my wife, and, of course, my fulltime day job. Mistakes are bound to happen, and this morning, for the first time this year, one did.

Without knowing it, you see, I’d scheduled two posts to go out at 8 am this morning. The intended post for today, Field Notes “Signs of Spring” Edition Has Arrived, was written and scheduled back on March 19, almost 2 weeks ago. The second post–the one that appeared briefly, and then disappeared–was called “Character Counts Commentaries.” This one was written on March 21 and was supposed to be scheduled for April 1. Instead, I accidentally scheduled it for today.

I could have left them both there, but when two posts come out at the exact same time, I find they compete with one another for attention. So I pulled the second post, shifted it to tomorrow, and put some notices up on social media briefly explaining what happened. It was actually a little more work than that. I had to shift every future post forward by one day to avoid “double-posting” again.

Those readers who subscribe to the blog get my posts in email at 8 am Eastern time, each morning. Those lucky subscribers would have gotten two emails this morning, and thus, have a preview of tomorrow’s post.

In way, there is a silver lining to this. It gives me a chance to explain something about the posts that will come out over the next three days. As I said, the title of tomorrow’s post is “Character Counts Commentaries” and it is the first of a 3-part series on radio and radio programs that I have enjoyed over the years.

You can look forward to the first post in the series tomorrow morning at the usual time. And for those of you who have already read it in the email notification–no spoilers, please! 😉

Written on March 31, 2022.

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A Brief Outage Earlier Today

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If anyone happened to notice the blog down earlier today, I confirm that it was, in fact, down. It went offline around 10:45am ET and was back online about 10 minutes later. I don’t know the cause, but I was going to check with WordPress on it. This was the first outage I’ve experienced since I moved the site to WordPress hosting early last summer.

I didn’t see any major outages reported so it seems like it was just a hiccup. I only mention it here in case anyone was trying to access the blog during that 10-minute window, and was having problems doing so. Things have been running smoothly since. Carry on!

Written on March 3, 2022.

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400 Consecutive Days of Blog Posts

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Way back in 2021, I set a goal of publishing at least one blog post every day for a year. This was the norm for me for many years, but the few years prior to 2021 had seen a sharp decline in my post frequency. On December 31, 2021, I made my goal. I published at least one post every day and over the course of 365 days, ended up making 454 posts.

In 2022 I upped my game a little. I’m continuing my effort to publish at least one post each day, but I decided to try to write two posts every day. This builds up a nice little backlog of scheduled posts and helps take the pressure off those days when I am too busy to write. That’s working out pretty well so far.

It just so happened that when I woke up this morning, letting my brain wander, I realized that the 365 days of 2021 plus the 31 days in January 2022 that I’ve continued to post, plus the first four days in February 2022, including today, adds up to 400 consecutive days of publishing blog posts. And I thought I’d celebrate that fact by writing one more post to note it here. Last year, I also passed 7,000 posts over the 16+ year life of the blog, and am closing in on 7,100.

Incidentally, the traffic on the blog has been steadily creeping back up. In its peak, between 2013-16, I was averaging between 3,000 – 4,000 views per day. After 2016, when I wasn’t writing as much, the traffic began to fade and eventually dwindled to the low 100s per day. Posting every day last year has brought the numbers back up, not to their previous heights yet, but over the last few weeks I’m seeing average daily stats above 1,000 views per day again. I’m delighted to have so many folks back reading the blog again. It encourages me to write more.

And speaking of writing more, I still have my regular posts to write today. You won’t see them until at least after Valentine’s Day, but rest assured I am working on them!

Written on February 4, 2022.

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Getting Ahead of Myself

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Since I have started writing two posts a day, I have been getting ahead of myself. Today, for instance, is January 20, 2022, and the two posts I wrote today are now scheduled for January 29 and January 30 respectively. Between now and then, every day is already scheduled, and each day I write two posts extends this lead by another day.

Since I often write about things that are happening around the time that I write my posts, this creates something of a problem. If I refer to, say, the fact that reddit is down at the moment in a post I wrote today but that won’t be published for 9 more days, there is something of a disconnect.

To help reduce that confusion, you will begin to notice a dateline at the bottom of my posts. The dateline will simply read something like: “Written on January 20, 2022.” It will be in an smaller font with a yellow background to call it out. When reading a postl you can always refer to the dateline to see when it was actually written, as opposed to when it was published.

I just wanted to call this to your attention so you know why you see these datelines when they start appearing. And just in case it isn’t clear what they will look like, I’ve included one on this post.

Written on January 20, 2022.

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Quick Vacation Check-In

We are just about halfway through the final week of our vacation, and we are spending this week at Walt Disney World. I’ve have had posts scheduled through much of my vacation and have been checking in for comments and things periodically, but this week, I’ve been mostly offline enjoying time with the family.

Also a reminder that there is no Practically Paperless post this week. They will be back next week.

I just wanted to check in and wish everyone a Happy New Year. I’ll be back next week with more-or-less regular blogging schedule and interactions. See you then!

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My Favorite Posts of 2021

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I wrote 452 posts in 2021. Those posts totaled about 315,000 words. I published at least one post every day of the year, meeting the goal I set for myself at the beginning of the year. It felt good to write nearly every day1 and I was pleasantly surprised to see the blogs stats up more than 42% over 2020.

With so many posts in the year, it is hard to remember everything I wrote. But I spent some time recently reviewing the list of everything I published in 2021 and came up with a list of my personal favorites. These aren’t necessary the most popular posts. I also excluded more technical posts like the posts I’ve been writing for my Practically Paperless series. But these are posts that pleased me. I enjoyed reading them again and I present them here more or less in the order they appeared for you to review and read (or re-read) if you are so inclined.

Did you have a favorite post? I’d love to hear about it. Let me know in the comments, or shoot me an email.

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  1. I published a post every day, but there were a few days that I didn’t write anything. To balance that, there were days that I wrote several posts and scheduled them ahead of time.

Goal Met: 365 Consecutive Days of Blog Posts in 2021

Heat map of daily blog posts in 2021

Well, I did it! Back on January 1, I set a goal of trying to post every day in 2021, after letting things slack off for several years prior. With this morning’s post, I have met that goal. Including this post, I wrote 454 blog posts totaling 293,000 words. Given that there are 365 days in a year, there were quite a few days (like today) when I published more than one post. The heat map above shows every day I posted this year. The darker the color, the more posts I published on that day.

I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I am having too much fun. I saw my blog stats (views) go up 45% this year over last year. I am nowhere near back to the peak when the blog was getting over a million views a year. But it was certainly gratifying to see people coming to read (and frequently comment) on what I write here.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by to read this year, and to those of you who commented, or emailed me directly with your thoughts and suggestions. I hope you will continue to stop by in 2022.

Happy New Year!

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Introducing: A Curated Index to the Blog

Those of you with a keen eye may have noticed a new menu options available on the blog this weekend: A Curated Index to the Blog. This is something I have been wanting to do for a while, and I managed to get about the first 10% percent completed so far.

A new menu option!

This new page takes you to a curated list of posts that I have written over the 16+ years that this blog has been in existence. With over 7,000 posts on the blog, I am trying to find ways to expose readers to stuff I have written in the past, not just posts that I am writing today. To do this, I have started to go through my massive backlog of posts, and find a representative sample that crosses the spectrum of everything I write about here.

My goal is to eventually have about 10% of the total posts listed on this curated index. As of today, I’ve indexed about 100 of these posts, so I’ve still got 500-600 to go. This is clearly a work-in-progress.

The new page provides a brief introduction, and is then followed by an alphabetical list of topics. Posts are listed in order of date below each topic. This provides a single page that someone can go to and scroll through to scan the kinds of things I write about, and maybe dive into something that they haven’t read before.

Each bullet links to the post and is followed by the date the post was published. Within a given topic, I list the posts in date order. For those posts whose titles aren’t completely clear on what the subject is about, I’ve added some annotations to give more details.

I am trying not just to pick a random sample, but a representative sample. I write about a lot of different things here and I want this index to reflect that. I am also trying to find posts that I think are particularly good, but also include some posts (particularly earlier posts) that may not be up to my standards today, but are accurate historical representations of how I was writing on the blog 10 or 15 years ago.

I’ve wanted a place to point people to when they ask, “What kind of stuff do you write about?” Now I’ve got one.

Feel free to check out the new index, and let me know what you think about it. I’ll be adding more posts over the next few months until I reach my 10% goal. If there are posts you know about that you think should be on this list, please send me your suggestions.

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A Programming Reminder for Practically Paperless

Just a reminder that I am taking this week off from the Practically Paperless posts. Lots of holiday preparations going on, and I wanted a little time to relax. Episode 8 will be back here next week, Tuesday, November 30.

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Upcoming Changes to My Reading List Page

Just a heads-up that over the next couple of days, you may notice some upcoming changes to my reading list page. Among the new features I will be adding over the next several days:

  • A “top” page with a summary table for my reading. The table will have links to individual years. There will still be a link for the full list in case you like (as I do) perusing the whole thing.
  • A “page” for each year with a list of books I read in just that year.
  • A reading FAQ which I will link to from the top page.
  • A “recommendations” page, which will list books that I recommend, collected under various topics and genres.

There will probably be other things, too, eventually. For now, I just wanted to give you a heads-up of the changes in case you notice anything unusual.

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