Late to the BuJo Party

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Let’s see if I can get anything written today. I’ve been having technology issues, annoying bill-paying issues, and trouble doing what I set out to do today. Cows are mooing their asses off outside, too. So, I’m hoping a pleasant blogging break will help get me back on track to do some proofreading.

We seem to be lost. Update: not lost, separated so they can get some treatments. Still, unhappy.

Meanwhile, as I briefly mentioned last week, I have been looking more into how bullet journaling works, since my work book group friends all said they sort of do it, but would like to know more. You know me, I went out and bought the book, after reading up on two popular forms of bullet journaling online, the original bullet journal (by Ryder Carroll) and the Full Focus Planner (by Michael Hyatt), which is what Lee uses.

I might have ordered this because it looks cool and has cork on the outside.

Even though I have a nice-looking journal I use right now, in what turns out to be a semi-bullet journal format, I ordered another journal, because I forgot to check whether the book I’m using opens flat. It doesn’t, and that is more than a little irritating, even though it’s a pretty little book. I can use it for something else.

I know this journaling style is all the rage these days, but, as usual, I avoided looking into it, since I have my own system. But, one of my goals is to learn more, in general, so I’ll learn more. So far, I’ve learned how important BuJo journal proponents believe it is to write things down by hand. I’ve always agreed with their premise that writing helps cement things, which I why I was such a big note-taker in college.

Bullet journals use dots, not lines. I think this is for freedom? I’m not that far in the book. I like dots, though.

The handwriting fans maintain that typing is not as good for focusing as the act of writing on paper, mainly because typing goes so fast that you don’t necessarily really think about it. Hmm, no wonder my blog doesn’t make sense; my hands just go typing way ahead of my brain. I honestly find typing to be equally helpful, but I also think my brain works a little differently than some people’s.

Nonetheless, I know my handwriting has become a LOT worse since I stopped doing it so often, so maybe writing more intentionally in a bullet journal will help with that. You see, a LOT of people make their journals into pieces of art, which all sorts of colors, drawings, stenciled headings, and stickers upon stickers. That has to slow down the “rapid logging” process, don’t you think? Maybe they just do it as they prepare their monthly sections. Maybe I should read more of the book.

I think one reason I hesitated to look into this stuff is that before, I felt the way Lee journaled was very rigid, and that may or may not be right. It is very goal oriented, so you don’t get to do things that don’t contribute to a goal. There goes my fondness for random activities and plain old fun (so, one of my goals is to have fun…HA).

My practice. I even put in a sticker and used a template yesterday (blurred to obscure work notes).

I was happy to see that there’s a LOT of freedom in bullet journals. You can put in art, write stories, keep lists, track your food, or whatever you find important. The best freedom, though, is to get rid of things that don’t work for you. That’s very Agile, I think, as is the iterative monthly planning. Oh goodness, Agile project management is everywhere in my life these days!

Let’s see what happens once I get my journal actually going. I’m still using the old one and practicing BuJo style bullets and style. I need to finish the book and learn about all the components before I mess up the new one. I mean, use it however I want to.

Do you journal? Is blogging journaling? Memoir writing? Narcissism? Who knows.

500 Things

No, this is not one of those annoying blog posts that lists a certain number of things, where the blogger just looks stuff up and cuts and pastes. Oops that an opinion, not the start of a post. Anyway, 500 always feels like it’s halfway to somewhere, and it’s popping up for me.

Master Naturalist 500 hour pin.

First, I managed to reach the milestone of doing 500 volunteer hours with the Texas Master Naturalist program. That came faster than expected, thanks to doing the chapter blog, Nature Along the El Camino Real, being secretary substitute, and being president. I won’t make the next 500 so fast, since my iNaturalist observations here at the Hermits’ Rest no longer are acceptable as hours. You aren’t supposed to observe on your own property. Those of us who live on large properties are not thrilled. And with COVID, it’s hard to go many places. But, yay 500 hours. It’s a glass half full, glass half empty deal!

That was fast.

The other 500 achievement was that I got the notice that this blog has 500 followers. Surprise! That came only a little over a month after it hit 400 on December 4. To contrast, it took 7 months to get from 300 to 400 followers. This reminds me of how I track my exercise on my watch. I’m always thrilled when I hit a milestone, even though I’m not competing against anyone other than myself!

I see some sharing algorithms at work, which is fine. I’m just glad for the readers who are real people and who comment and share with me. Getting to know new friends and learning more about old friends is the best part of sharing my journaling online. And MY blog readers, at least, aren’t mean. I get enough of that in other arenas.

The mysterious hallway henge at the winter solstice.

This is a stretch, but I wanted to share this. The solstices are halfway points through the year, ya know, .500. This year, Lee discovered that we had oriented the ranch house to where the morning sun on the winter solstice shines straight through the upstairs hallway!

We didn’t get a picture on December 21, but the above photo was taken by Lee soon after. I remember being blinded by the morning sun blasting my eyes for about a week! Isn’t that cool? Hallway henge at Hermits’ Rest. Future generations will film dorky shows wondering why the builders of this house oriented it this way!

Thanks

Thanks for all the kind thoughts about yesterday’s post about my son. It helped me get through a long, hard day of endless meetings and people expecting me to solve problems that I can’t. It’s a challenging time, and I don’t post all the stuff here, believe it or not.

I thought y’all might enjoy some positive news today. There’s more to come. I’m doing lots to keep an upbeat focus and do what I can to improve life. What little things are you doing?

End o’ Year Stats

The year has even aged my avatar.

Last year I went over the most and least popular posts of the year, but I’ll just gather a few statistics today and sum the 2020 blogging up with that. It was, at least, a good blog year. It wasn’t all that exciting, though, because I got halfway through this post last week and never finished it. A suiting “tribute” to 2020: Not worth the effort of summarizing.

The trends

I didn’t see it as it happened, but more readers (real and bot) found The Hermits’ Rest blog, which led to more interaction and me discovering more interesting blogs, too!

Yep. Increased.

Slowly but surely, as the months passed, the readers built up, went down, and came back. I think a lot of it was better tagging, linking and keyword use on my part. I was apparently very interesting this summer.

The winners

I always wonder what causes a post to be popular, but this year I know.

Popularity Contest

The most popular post is the one linked to my recent very simple knitting pattern, and #3 is the other post about it. Yep. If I want hits, I need to write more easy knitting patterns. I know why the Passive Aggressive Facebook Posts one got so many hits, too. That’s because I tagged it with “passive aggressive Facebook memes.” That’s apparently a popular thing to search for, and I did include some doozies!

Popularity fell off after those, but I was happy to see so many posts with over 100 hits, which is high for me. Two of those were popular from being shared, the Ghosts from the Past one about my former college professor, Doc Shenkman, and the Restoring Your Historical House one, which the book’s author shared.

Of course, my heart is warmed that my post about Lee’s and my 12th wedding anniversary was a big winner. I guess it’s all the pictures of him.

Losers of the popularity contest

Of course, we will want to know what is NOT popular. I predicted which genre of post would fill the sad end of the spectrum: book reports. I figure no one reads those but me. I like just going to the Book Report page and delightedly realizing that I read 44 books last year (which I just did). Hey, not bad for someone who also reads a lot of wordy magazines!

But, look, I was wrong!

But look, I was wrong!
Virtual xox from scary me.

Only one book report was in among the sad posts that only got viewed 18 times, and that’s the one about one of my favorite books of the year, good old Barry O. I thought I did a good job on that one, too. Well, 18 people enjoyed it.

The nature posts generally don’t do too well, so I am not surprised to see lots of them down in the basement. That’s perfectly fine with me, since those are mainly to help me remember what I did and saw.

All in all, though 2020 had its challenges for living one’s life, it was a fine year for blogging. I think I’ll keep it up, as long as writing brings me pleasure and helps me meet new and interesting people. Now, go click a lot of links and get me hits. No, wait, that’s not it. Now, go read things you are interested in and that make you happy. Much better!

Boom! Stats Galore!

Well, yesterday was a fun one for me on WordPress. Innocently enough, I’d posted the pattern for my Fireside Wrap on Ravelry (the popular fiber arts community website), thinking someone else might like to make one. I thought no more about it, and spent most of the day watching clouds.

Sunbeams shining on our house, way in the distance.

Then, I started getting notices that my stats were booming. Hmm, I didn’t think the post about the chicken palace was THAT interesting. So, I checked out what was happening. Oh, of course. The pattern.

Don’t I look all official.

I’d forgotten that new patterns go into a little featured area, where people can look through them. People were obviously looking (drawn by the photo of Penney, no doubt). I monitored the posts all day long, figuring I’d have more hits than usual, but not all that many more. I underestimated how many people look at the Ravelry site on any given day. Lots.

Whoa, that’s some stats!

I never had more than 200 views per day, as far as I can remember. This is not a hugely popular blog (and that’s fine with me; I write it for me, my friends, and nice other people who happen to find it). Thus, 558 blew me away. It certainly makes the rest of the week look sad, right? I’ve already got 78 this morning (written around 10:15 am), which is more usual for a normal day or a medium-popular post or posts.

As expected, the two posts about the wrap/blanket accounted for most of the hits. Still, even without the surge, there were 146 views, more than usual. I think what’s happened is that I hit the magic number of followers that gets the blog picked up by WordPress to display under certain keywords, so my tagging has done its job.

It looks like the mother ship is about to beam the Hermits’ Rest up!

Actually, I noticed that since I hit 400 WordPress followers, I’ve gotten new follows at a much higher rate. I’ve gotten 50 followers since December 4. Also, more and more people are “liking” past posts, which means they got displayed somewhere, because certainly no one is searching for them! Algorithms are pretty interesting, even for people who don’t blog JUST to attract hits and followers.

I’m glad I’m doing something right, and I’m glad that a few people might make a simple, yet pretty wrap like I made. It’s good to give back to the community in a small way. I’ll never be the fancy pattern designer I’d hoped to be, back when I was trying to be a part of the cool kids in the knitting community, but I’m there, and that’s what counts.

Bitmoji Overload

I didn’t know you could paste Bitmoji images directly from the keyboard into a WordPress blog.

Well, this is perfect.

I guess you can. Now if I could only make the avatar actually look like me. Some people do great. Not me.

Back to watching the blog hits add up. I put the wrap thing I made for Kathleen up on Ravelry, so it’s showing up as a new pattern. That frenzy will end soon!

Why Not Resolutionize?

Let’s admit this right off. I stole this idea from a very talented bogger, whose writing I really enjoy. Her blog also has a beautiful design, so check out this post on the Zowiezoe blog. Zoe (how come it’s so much easier to find an umlaut on the phone than on my dang keyboard?) shared how she has never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but decided after the weirdness of 2020, she’ll make lots and lots of them. She is going to revolutionize resolutions and resolutionize her life! You see, if you make so many that it’s hard to keep track of them, you’re bound to succeed at one or two!

Example of 2020’s effect on me. These are my “festive” holiday gifts for tomorrow. I bought exactly two gift containers, which are hiding.

I Can Resolutionize, Too

I decided that it would be a fun Christmas Eve activity to make some resolutions, myself. This also conveniently procrastinates from more closet organizing. I won’t have quite as many as Zoe did, but I did like her category ideas. Here goes.

WORK-O-LUTIONS

Planview

  • Be free with praise to productive coworkers
  • Contribute more to the LGBTQ+ group and make it the BEST
  • Remind myself that I enjoy organizing and writing, and have fun
  • Get a better desk location near a WINDOW
  • Find new ways to support and encourage my direct reports

Hearts, Homes and Hands

  • Write more frequent blog posts
  • Figure out what I can do to help without getting in the way
  • Support the team!

VOLUNTEER-WORK-O-LUTIONS

  • Find more ways to help with MTOL; I’ve been a sucky Board member
  • Keep the spirits up with the Master Naturalists as we can’t DO much right now
  • Keep my mojo going on the Friends of LLL newsletter, even though hardly anyone gets it because we have so few members

CRAFT-O-LUTIONS

  • Crochet a cardigan
  • Crochet an afghan
  • Knit Lee’s table runner for his office
  • Knit anything a family member requests (within reason)
  • Try some new (dog-friendly) things
  • Use my stash as much as possible
  • Organize the craft room in each house (ha ha ha ha ha)

SOCIAL-O-LUTIONS

  • Talk to kids more
  • Find ways to talk to more friends (and see them, eventually)
  • Be a better conversationalist, even when tired
  • Conversely, stay out of conversations where my contribution would not be helpful
  • Participate more in online groups (I tend to lurk)
  • Blog every day, for my own fun, not statistics
  • Comment on people’s blogs and encourage them
  • Quit trying so hard to be nice to people who aren’t nice to me

HEALTH-O-LUTIONS

  • Get that annoying post-nasal drip looked at
  • Go to a dermatologist
  • Get new glasses/prescription
  • Keep walking as much as or more than now
  • CBD Oil. Lots of it.
  • Don’t stop my therapy just because I only have one big issue

RANCH-O-LUTIONS

  • Ride the damn horse or get another horse that has good feet and just enjoy Apache
  • Get more chickens and keep them SAFE
  • Help however I can to get a tack room and fencing for horses on our property
  • Contribute to beautifying the outside
  • Get rid of ugly stuff in the house, like dead plants
  • Replace the nature tree with a new one

Geez, that should be enough. I hope I get some of this done. But, at the least, Lee will be happy that I now have GOALS and priorities and lists! He loves those, more than anything, I think.

Lee, writing in his journal of lists, goals, goal analysis and goal tracking. He’s amazing at it.

Maybe I’m becoming a better person, right? Some of this will help, or, at least I’ll have fun trying!

So, are you ready for the resolution revolution? Let’s ALL resolutionize!

The Blogmas Bandwagon (What?)

I was reading a blog I enjoy a lot, and the author said she was participating in “Blogmas” this year. Oh boy, I thought, another hashtag, another way to fill your posts or compete with others…whatever. I thought about all those people who write a novel every year for some month (see how well THAT stuck with me?) and the UU Lent thing I do on Facebook every year. They do provide writing inspiration. I like writing inspiration. So, what’s Blogmas?

If you’re wondering what Blogmas is, I completely understand. Blogmas is a trendy tag that bloggers use to compete with the algorithm each Christmas season. You’re supposed to write a post every day leading up to Christmas. I’m not really trying to compete with any algorithm, and I can’t promise that I’ll even keep up with it. But, it does seem like an easy title to give my posts for the month of December.

V, “Blogmas” Day 2

I know I lose to the mysterious algorithm, myself, by not posting enough of the right keywords, not linking enough outside my blog or inside my blog, tagging with things only Suna would care about, etc. But, I’m doing fine. V is doing much finer, with nearly 8,000 followers and 80 likes on all her posts, but she’s young and interesting, and I’m me. So, no competition.

Thanks to abrewedawakening for this nice image.

Since I write a post every day, anyway, so dedicated reader Catherine will know I’m okay, I’m gonna go ahead and tag my posts leading up to the Yule celebration. Can’t hurt.

There are zillions of “things to write about for Blogmas” links out there, but I’ll choose to ignore them unless absolutely nothing happens in my life or my mine one day. I did get a chuckle out of some bloggers who declared that Blogmas is a gift to their readers, like they are just sitting around dying to read their content. Nah, my blog is a gift to ME, and I appreciate anyone who feels like checking it out.

Now, off to write something about what’s on my mind.

Follower Update!

I just saw that We have 400 WordPress followers on this blog! Sure, pro bloggers have more, but I’m pleased! It sure makes me feel less isolated. Thanks to those of you who read in email, on Facebook, or any other way, too! And a Merry Blogmas (inserted later, for SEO).

I visited Snapchat to make a video.

It’s been another weird day, COVID-wise. That’s all I can say, I guess. What’s good is I have no symptoms since I traveled, so I’m able to see my family soon. Lee’s quarantine ends Monday, so yay!

Celebrate friendship and love where you can find it!

Love to all of YOU!

A Thousand Points of Typing

In addition to successfully working all day from the condo, I got a little note from my buds at WordPress. I feel as high as these here mountains.

Crop out a lot of road work, and you can see beauty here!

I know I feel compelled to blog every day, but it sure has added up. It really helps me think things through, and I prefer writing to talking (so I won’t be joining the great Franklin Habit and vlogging).

I also feel compelled to take pictures and share them. Someone even said they like that!

Thanks for all your input and thoughtfulness in your responses. I’m looking forward to another THOUSAND posts. Or maybe I’ll find a way to earn money by writing.

Dang…

Um, Hey

Wait a minute. I DO earn money by writing. I guess I go to so many meetings that I forget I’m a technical writer/editor. So, if I want to blog as a hobby, I can. I give myself permission! But, I may knit some more. Maybe. Yarn is coming.

I’ll be online tomorrow. Feel free to check in.

What Are You Trying to Say?

Sometimes I’m really grateful for blog comments, because they can get me thinking about things that are important to me. Recently, a comment was shared by Edith on my May 6 Toxic Negativity post. In addition to some lovely personal sharing, she made this point:

 I’d be interested to hear more about what you get out of communication as well, because I believe most people do it to exchange and amplify emotions they wish to experience whereas while I do enjoy exchanging wanted emotions I mostly want to exchange ideas so sometimes I bring up something negative because I want to solve it, without realizing that not all problems are solvable and that not chewing on it might be better. 

Blog comment, July 30, 2020

This is the kind of topic a person with my background in linguistics and pragmatics lives for. What Edith’s wanting to know about is not what the things I say mean (semantics) but what I’m trying to do with my words (pragmatics). Guess what leads to confusion and mis-communication? When you say something with one intent, and your communication partner interprets it another way.

Here’s an example:

Me: There’s Alfred hair all over the floor.
Lee: Hey, I’ve been doing the books all day – I don’t have time to sweep.

So, maybe I was just noticing that the hair is there, not judging Lee’s housekeeping skills. Or, maybe I was thinking I should be doing some sweeping. Or maybe I was actually judging Lee. How to tell?

Alfred DOES shed a lot.

Well, if we were talking in person, Lee could tell by my tone of voice (stern, teasing, surprised), or he could see by my actions that I was heading to get a broom or crossing my arms in irritation. Those are among the many ways we can infer motivation to other people’s speech.

One method of communication we aren’t using so much these days. Photo by @Nodar via Twenty20

But these days, a lot of our communication comes via text, Twitter, Facebook comments, messenger app, or email. We lack a lot of those tone of voice and mannerisms tools for conveying additional meaning. We do have ALL CAPS and emojis, of course. But you can easily see how it can be a lot harder to figure out what someone is actually trying to convey outside the literal words they’ve typed.

I’m pretty sure Edith has been reading a lot of emotion-charged content lately, especially on Facebook/Twitter, etc. I see a LOT of content that repeats time-worn phrases or buzzwords that do seem to me that they aren’t intent on conveying information, but rather to vent, convey frustration, state which “team” they are on or show their disapproval of others. I even see them getting irritated when folks want to talk about what they actually SAY.

Yep, sometimes technology obscures intended meaning. Image by @Mehaniq via Twenty20

In fact, I often see that when people are genuinely wanting information, they specifically say so. They’ll say, “I really want to know,” or something like it. So, it seems to me that a lot of us are interpreting things we read and even hear as just folks blowing off steam.

That’s great unless you’re someone like Edith, who doesn’t work that way, and really just wants to respond to what the words are saying, not underlying implications.

What to Do?

Well, one thing that helps is to ignore people who just seem to be blowing off steam. They don’t really want to exchange ideas, information, or heaven forbid, facts/evidence.

If you think someone may actually want to be conveying information or getting your input, though, you can always try my favorite from back when I helped mothers breastfeed, “active listening.” It includes the technique where you paraphrase what you think the other person is trying to say, and get confirmation or clarification. You say something like, “What I hear you saying is X; is that right?” and the person either confirms or explains. (Summarizing, below)

Thanks to Education Corner for the graphic.

While this can get annoying REAL fast if you repeat it throughout a conversation, used sparingly it can head off those occasions where you get ten minutes into a heated discussion only to realize you were talking about different things.

You can always try the reflecting part of active listening, “When you say X, it makes me feel Y,” which is supposed to be better than blaming, name-calling, or labeling (for example, “That was stupid”). The idea is that you’re pointing out that the words are the problem, not the person saying them. This is another technique that can easily backfire (So, don’t say, “When you say those Confederate statues are your beloved heritage, it makes me feel like you don’t think black lives matter,” because that conversation will turn ugly very quickly.)

This takes me back to the first option, which is ignoring stuff you know isn’t really about exchanging information. Occasionally, with people I know or am related to, I will ask if they really want to start a conversation about Topic X, because I actually do know something about it and can share information. There have been times where one of us learns something that affects our feelings one way or another or gets us to re-evaluate and think about the topic based on new evidence, which is the goal of a good discussion, isn’t it? (That is opposed to a good venting session, the goal of which is to get hearty agreement that our way is RIGHT, and those other people are doofuses. Sometimes we need these, but we need to know when we are in a venting or information exchange interaction!)

Fill in the blank, venting, chatting, lecturing…

I guess my conclusion is there’s lots of reasons to communicate, and lots of WAYS to communicate in addition to the face value of the words in sentences. To succeed, whether you want to share information, educate, insult, or vent, you need to first agree on the mutual goal. Otherwise, we’re just talking (or typing) at each other rather than with each other.

I don’t know if any of this has helped at all. There is more I could say, but no time to say it, since lunch is over, and I need to go to some more work meetings and nod my head and smile a lot or help someone solve a problem (I like the latter kind best).


The Next Day

Someone said they couldn’t follow this well, because it’s written, not spoken. Then I couldn’t tell if they were joking or serious, because there were no emoticons. I rest my case.