Sandy’s Blog

Well, after following my blog for years, my dear wife has finally given into the addiction called blogging.  She followed my ill-advised advice, and used WordPress.  After a brief training session, she finally has a new post.  It is the talk she offered at her grand father’s funeral.

So, please take a minute to check it out.

Oh, and don’t expect much politics over there.  She doesn’t find it as interesting as I do.  But you will probably learn more about us through her blog, then you will through mine.

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Things to Consider Before You Start a Blog

I was recently asked by a friend “what are the top 20 issues, technical or otherwise that someone might face who is learning to blog?”  While he wasn’t looking for a lot a details, I decided that I would give him the details, and now I figured that I would share it here.

Twenty issues huh?  Well, that’s and interesting question, and would be a long list, but let me try.

First of all, not many of my answers will address technical issues.  I think that this is primarily because most blogs are pretty easy to use.  Not much different than and email program.  But it could be that I am more technically savvy than most people, and I just don’t get too bothered by technical problems.

1 – Getting people to read it
If you are going to blog, you obviously want people to read it.  The best way to get people to read your blog is to comment on other’s blogs.  Be sure to leave your blog address when you do, and I am sure you will get a few readers.

2 – Finding time to post regularly
This is more closely related to the first one than many may realize.  But if you aren’t writing regularly then readers aren’t going to come.

3 – Which host site to use
While there are several free hosting sites.  The two biggest are blogger.com (or blogspot.com) and wordpress.com.  I personally recommend wordpress.com.  It seems that there is a lot more available to the user.  However, blogspot is amazingly simple.  And thus easier to use.  But you lose out on a lot of features.  I would take the harder to learn over the easier to learn just so that when you learn the ropes, you will have all the features you might like.

You can also have a blog at your own site (i.e,. http://www.readmythoughts.com).  This is far more complicated to opperate, but people with some Internet publishing skills can usually figure it out.  Again, I reccommend the blog freely available at www.wordpress.org (note that it ends in .org and not .com).

4 – Dealing with mean comments
I would often just stop posting when people were belligerent.  But now, I have a better understanding of what works for me.  No real advise here, I think this is different for everyone.

5 – Spelling and grammar errors
While most programs offer spell check of some sort, it will miss something.  And they all miss grammatical problems.  So, you are going to have to reread your post again and again.  I don’t do that.  Hence, all the errors.

6 – What to write about
Some of this is personal preference, but I struggled with how much politics, how much personal, and how much misc.  I have gotten over it mostly.  And I have a very eclectic blog.  But I like it that way.  Some blogs are very specific.  For example, they talk only Utah Politics, or the LDS Religion.  Some are strictly personal, almost like a journal (the original concept behind blogging).  And some are eclectic like mine.

7 – Whether to tell friends and family
This may be more of my issue.  But for me there are probably only 4 or 5 of my family members (actually they are all my wife’s family) who know about my blog.  But for me, I really don’t care to share it with them.  At first, my wife didn’t know about it, but eventually I told her, and now she reads every post.  I know, because she always corrects my grammar.

8 – How to follow stats
There are several stats counters out there.  I use statcounter.com, but there are others.  Which one is the best, I really don’t know.  I just want some data, and statcounter.com provides me with what I want, so I never really looked at anything else.  With WordPress you have stats provided to you, so you may not want a separate counter.

9 – Putting too much emphasis on stats
Some people worry too much that there stats are too low.  Then they use this as a reason to stop writing.  But it isn’t a popularity contest.

10 – Protecting family
With young children in the home, I try to keep my kids IDs somewhat hidden.  For example, they all have nicknames (PandaMae, Miss Jo, BO, Miss Kay, Capt. Z, and Flash).  Also, I try to avoid saying much more than I live in Riverton, UT.  But I slip up sometimes.

11 – Learning how to promote the site
You don’t have to pay anybody to promote your site.  Just link to a lot of stuff, and encourage people to link back to your.  This is the number 1 way to get your site listed higher in the search engines.

12 – Understanding trackbacks
This is a feature available in WordPress and some other blogging programs (not blogger/blogspot).  If more people understood this, they would use it.  It’s a way to comment on another’s blog while posting on your own blog.  This way people who are interested in that topic, will follow a link to get you take on the same topic.

13 – Learning the software
As with all software there can be a learning curve.  I will repeat that blogspot is pretty easy to learn, and wordpress harder.  But the features come to play.

14 – Understanding etiquette
If you have a private conversation with someone, keep it private.  The Web is the public.  Watch what you say about others.  There are other ettiquette rules, But you can search for them.

15 – Writing for writings sake and not fame
A lot of first time bloggers write hoping to make a lot of money and become famous.  It probably won’t happen.  So forget about it.  Enjoy the process of writing and you will have fun blogging.

Well, that’s 15.  I know that there was at least one more.  But I am drawing a blank on it.  Hope this helps.  If you are asking because you are considering blogging.  Let me know about your site, and I will link to it.

Since I sent that email to him I remember the other item.  That was read other’s blog.  Basically that give you ideas of what to write about.  Also it can be a great place to promote you blog.

Anyway, these are just what I came up with.  Are there any more that you could add to the list.

Experiments with Wordle

My Blog

The Constitution of the United States

The Declaration of Independence

1 Nephi 3:7

Articles of Faith

Scout Oath (or Promise)

Scout Law

Listen to Gazelem Talk Politics

It’s been a long spell without any comments on politics from yours truly.  And I am going to make this a special treat.  You get to listen to me talk politics.

You may have heard about KLO Radio’s recent contest where they invited listeners to submit a 30 minute talk show.  The talk show needed to have at leat one interview.

My first thought was how fun would that be, but I really wasn’t going to pursue it.  However,  PandaMae (my 12-year-old daughter) said that she thought it would be cool.  So, I figured, what the heck.  I will give it a try.

I thought about several options that I had for interviewing.  I have a friend in the LDS Entertainment industry who could have set me up with an interview with various artists.  But ultimately I went with Representative Carl Wimmer.

I consider Carl a friend, and I figured that he would be willing to help.  Sure enough, he agreed, and within a couple of days we sat down and conducted an Interview.

So, please check out this political NetCast over at PodBean.com.  Note that the interview is over a month old, so some of the information is dated.

The Big News that Someone (me) Leaked on Monday

The future of this blog may be in peril…

It may never be like it was before…

Hey, who said that… What do you mean… “There might actually be some activity around here!”?

No. I mean that I may never find time to post again. I truly hate to predict the demise of this blog, but there is pending activity in my personal life that will most likely make it hard to blog.

I have written about this pending change in my life before. So much so, that many of you probably thought that it was just talk. Honestly, I was starting to think that it was just talk myself.

I am even a little afraid that by writing about it now, I am going to curse myself, and this wonderful life change won’t happen. However, I must tell you with excitement and glee that tonight will be my last night working the graveyard shift.

Yep, starting with the new year (maybe New Year’s Eve Day), I start working the day shift. It is really hard to believe. I honestly will be in partial denial until I am on the day shift for at least a week.

So, what does this mean for the blog. Well, I usually write while I am at work. Generally, I can do this, because I have no boss, and until recently, I had no coworkers to see what I was doing. So, I felt that I could flagrantly abuse my company free time to write.

Unfortunately, by moving to the day shift, I will be working the same shift as the boss, and there will be a lot less free time. Thus, I don’t know if I will be able to maintain my blog. I will try. I even have hopes of starting up a whole “Why not…” series where I discuss the varied Republican Presidential Candidates. And if time presents itself, that is my next blogging project.

Anyway, if this proves to be my last post, then farewell. If not, then here is to many happy returns.

Merry Anniversary and Happy Christmas

Well, it is a little know fact that three years ago, I started blogging by wishing the world a Merry Christmas. So, in commemoration of the world shattering event, I wish you all a Happy Christmas.

There have been some ups and downs with this blog lately, including a move from one server to another. And some of you are eager to see the resurrection of this blogs as there has been more posts in the past few days than has normally been. However, I am afraid that it is all rather misleading, but you will have to wait until Thursday for more information about why things will be dieing around here again. Trust me, this bad news for you is good news for me.

But, I digress, from trying to get you to tune in after Christmas. I simply wanted to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and I hope many good tidings come your way in the New Year.

I Hate to Like These Books

I just finished the 7th Year of the Harry Potter Series. And to be honest, it has been mostly drudgery. Okay, not the 7th Year, but the whole series. The first two years were good enough to get me into the next two. But after year 4, I just about gave up on the whole series.

I didn’t like Year 3 and 4 because they weren’t getting into the battle between Voldemort and Harry. I wanted to learn more about their relationship.  I wanted to know what Harry was doing and needed to be doing to finish him off.

However, the popularity of the series, a certain kinship that I had for Harry Potter, and my desire to know more about the relation of Harry with Voldemort kept me reading. Year 5 got back on track, and Year 6 was the best of the two (I even read it twice, but that is another story).

Year 7 was back to the original story like I wanted it, and I might even say that it was the best of the 7.  Not that I am saying it was the best, just that it might be.  However, if I could use just 2 words to describe year 7, then they are: too much.

Too much story. I felt that there were times when it moved too slowly and had details that could have been either eliminated or in earlier books, without ruining the flow (perhaps bettering the flow).

Too much death. I have heard that British authors are more likely to kill off their supporting characters when compared to American authors. And if that is true then I forgive Rowling to a certain extent. But I want most of the good guys to win. And thinking back, I can’t think of a single bad wizard who died (beside Voldemort, of course). While reading the last year, It got to the the point that I was almost ready to give up. And if Rowling had killed one of a few select individuals, I really think I would have put it down and never read the end.

Too much violence. Honestly, I am afraid that the only way that they can make the 7th Year into a movie is to make it Rated R. I don’t watch rated R movies, and I am picky about PG-13. It took me over a year before I finally watch Year 4 (but that was my least favorite of all the books). And I don’t know if I will watch Years 5, 6, or 7.

Before I read the book, and even before they were sold, I made a few prediction about the 7th Year. I am sorry to say that only one of them was a correct prediction. And without trying to ruin the book for others, I will simple say, that it was about who Snape was. I didn’t have a prediction about why he was who he was, and I like the reason that Rowling offered. However, I don’t want to be a spoiler for others, so, I will leave it there.  I just wanted to point out that one of my prediction was correct.

Now to end on a positive note, I have to tell you that my favorite scene from Year 7 had to be the battle between Molly Weasley and Bellatrix LaStrange. I won’t go into details, but it was the best scene in the whole book, bar none.