A fortnight of years of blogging

“There is only one characteristic that distinguishes writers from non-writers: writers write. (That’s why there’s no such thing as an ‘aspiring writer.’)

14 ballIt’s another anniversary at Ramblin’ with Roger. If 14 days is a fortnight, is fourteen years a fortnight of years? Probably not. Don’t care. (Not to be confused with Fortnite, which I’ve never played.)

You may have noticed that I’ve changed the look of the blog in the past month or so. This was not done for aesthetic reasons but rather operational ones. My old design was clashing with some PHP function – too boring to explain, frankly.

So I changed to some WordPress in-house style called Twenty Sixteen. I like that it does the pull quotes, that the comments are on the side, and the basic clean look. I need to tweak it eventually.

Of course, earlier posts may look “off” – pictures too wide, notably. But I don’t foresee changing the previous output any time soon.

I came across this article called The State of Blogging: Post Length and Publishing Frequency Trends. “The proportion of bloggers who typically write posts under 500 words has steadily declined since 2014.” The vast majority of my posts are under that threshold.

“…while the proportion of bloggers who typically write posts longer than 1,000 words has steadily increased.” I doubt I have five posts TOTAL out of over 5000 that have over a thousand words. I am a blogging dinosaur; so be it.

I am occasionally reminded why I blog. One of the factors was the Inaugural post of the late Steve Gerber, who wrote, among other things, The Defenders, Howard the Duck, and Man-Thing.

He wrote back on April 4, 2005: “There is only one characteristic that distinguishes writers from non-writers: writers write. (That’s why there’s no such thing as an ‘aspiring writer.’ A writer can aspire to sell or publish, but only non-writers aspire to write.)”

Less than a month later, I started this blog, which proves that I am susceptible to suggestion. It makes me a good hypnosis subject and a dogged daily blogger.

Image by wisconsinpics from Pixabay

The hardest and easiest thing about blogging

Dora, from Having Coffee With Peppy, has the tag “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” By Edgar Alan Poe

I know her from ABC Wednesday. She writes:

What do you find the hardest and easiest thing about blogging? Coffee is on.

For me, the easiest thing about blogging is finding topics to write about. If one is reasonably observant, subjects find you. What are you reading? I skim a LOT on the Internet: left and right-wing politics, for instance. I’m an old political science major, so that’s interesting to me.

What are you doing? I listen to music, see movies, read books, live in an ever-changing America.

I see these questions in Quora, some of them sent directly to me: “What should I blog about?” they plead. How the heck do I know? I have no idea because I’m not them.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I really like to know what the topics of my posts are going to be.

For instance, I know that in November, I already know I’ll do something about Veterans Day and Thanksgiving and the Great American Smokeout and my mother’s birthday. In fact, I’ve already written the post about Veterans Day, because I realized it was the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. Something came to me, and I wrote it.

I can be very patient. I probably wrote that 11/11 piece in July, because it told me to be written. Far be it from me not to listen to a piece when it wants to be created.

Another thing in November is the 20th anniversary of when I first appeared on the game show JEOPARDY! The subconscious is working on that now, and when I see something related to the show, I throw it in the draft for November 9. Some point soon, I’ll put something together. I really do hope it writes itself because I’ve tackled the subject in the past and don’t want to rehash.

The hardest thing about writing a blog is time. Work, church, meetings, helping the Daughter with homework, mowing the lawn all take chunks of time. There was a point less than a year ago that I had 70 posts written and scheduled. Right now, it’s 29.

You might think that’s a lot but they’re not all for the next month. On September 23, I thought, “What am I going to write for October 4 or 5?” And I was actually pleased that I found a piece I had written on 9 July but curiously had not published; I changed two sentences and scheduled it.

I was then set for the next two weeks, except for the linkorama post at the end of the month, which I tend not to finish until two or three days before it posts. Now, if I don’t write something for the next two days – entirely possible – I don’t get anxious.

Whereas I HATE creating on a deadline, even a self-imposed one because it’s much harder for me to write. My way-too-long piece on John McCain I had to write and then post in a day or two because it would be of much less value a few weeks later.

R is for Ramblin’ with Roger

Steve Gerber, comic book writer extraordinaire, posted about writing in April 2005, essentially saying, “Writers write.”

Since I just hit my 13th anniversary of writing this here Ramblin’ with Roger blog thing, I’d thought I’d describe why I do it.

I’ve mentioned before that my friend Fred Hembeck had started a blog, that friend Rocco had tipped me off to same, and that I read everything Fred wrote, which meant going back about two years.

And Fred was prolific. He wrote every day, usually pieces a lot longer than I write currently. Then I would comment on his blog, and he would mention me therein. I gave him a couple ideas; for instance, I found a page of record album covers based on other album covers, which still exists.

So I thought, maybe I could do this myself. But what would I write ABOUT? I only had two topics that I KNEW I would have to cover. One was the Daughter, who was a little over a year old. I said to myself when she was born that I would write about her in a baby book that people give to parents of newborns, where you track when the child first crawls and walks and gets the first tooth.

There is incontrovertible evidence that I was TERRIBLE at this exercise. Instead, I would write about her every month, on the 26th. And I have, every month, although it’s often been as much about ME having a daughter after I’m five decades old.

The other topic was my appearances on the game show JEOPARDY. It was taped in September 1998 and was broadcast in November, and I was afraid the details were starting to fade.

I started writing in my Blogger blog on May 2, 2005, and I have written every day, at least once a day. In the early days, it was tough because Blogger didn't let me schedule posts. I remember writing at a library in Lake Placid during a break in a work conference.

I was inspired by what the late Steve Gerber, comic book writer of Howard the Duck, Man-Thing, the Defenders, and other Marvel comics I loved, posted about writing in April 2005, essentially saying, “Writers write.”

Oh, the duck. At FantaCo, I was editing something called X-Men Chronicles. I had extra pages to fill, and so Smilin’ Ed artiste Raoul Vezina and I pieced together a story about the rodent buying a case of a popular comic book. I appeared as a duck because… well, I don’t know.

Around that time, Raoul drew the duck for my friend Lynne. In 2010, when I was getting my own URL, Lynne’s husband Dan, who recognized me from the caricature when he met me on the street back in 1985, scanned the drawing, and I have used it ever since, on the Ramblin’ with Roger blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

For ABC Wednesday

13 years – feeling lucky, blogger?

Roger Green, strolling the streets of Albany, talking about the weather.

After 13 years, I think blogging is easy. There are 365 days. My birthday. My two sisters’ birthdays. My parents’ birthdays, the anniversary of their marriage, and the anniversaries of their deaths. 12 posts about The Daughter, always on the 26th of the month. Music throwback – another 52.

Various holidays – a dozen more. ABC Wednesday – 52 posts. Birthday people who turn 70 – 3 score and 10. There were 21, but some became music throwbacks, so let’s say 12 additional. That’s roughly 170 posts right there. All I need is another 185. Easy-peasy.

Blogging is hard. I have no skill, and frankly little interest, in the backside of the blog, how it works. So when it doesn’t work, for reasons mysterious and frustrating, makes me wanna holler, to quote Marvin Gaye. Dustbury has been gracious and helpful and gracious in this regard.

Blogging is convenient. When I’m on Facebook and having a conversation about a movie I’ve seen or an issue I care about, it’s easier to reply with a link to a blog post I’ve already written rather than answering on the fly.

Blogging is a community. I’ve discovered a bunch of other bloggers over the years. My friend Fred Hembeck, when he was blogging, had a sidebar. That’s how I was introduced to comic book fans such as Lefty Brown, Greg Burgas, and Eddie Mitchell; maybe SamauraiFrog, as well. I was reintroduced to my old buddy, former Swamp Thing artist, Steve Bissette, who had done work for FantaCo, the comic book shop/publisher I worked for in the 1980s.

Somehow I connected with other people I didn’t know, from Jaquandor at the other end of the Erie Canal, to AmeriNZ, on the other side of the globe. Mrs. Nesbitt started ABC Wednesday, and I got involved in that early on.

Blogging begets blogging. The same month my blog started, our work blog began. Because I was blogging here, I was invited to blog on the Times Union site, something I do rarely these days, for all sorts of reasons. Alan David Doane, a young FantaCo customer in the day, had invited me to blog on a couple of his comics-related blogs.

And blogging generates connections. People from my elementary school, old friends of the late FantaCo artist Raoul Vezina, fans of donuts, and many others.

It’s even gotten me on the news: Here’s Roger Green, strolling the streets of Albany, talking about the weather. The station saw my blog post from 10 years earlier and decided to interview me.

So I guess, if I can do 13 years, I’ll keep at it for another 12 months.

Blogging blues: SSL, php, fatal error

The blog isn’t just the last item I wrote, it’s the body of work.

I’m a guy who likes to blog. I’m the guy who HATES having to deal with the technobabble that the task entails. I noticed that the backside of my blog was running slowly. Sometimes when I tried to schedule a post, I’d get an error message. My provider wrote:

“Our monitoring systems show that one (or some) of your user accounts may be making your web hosting account operate inefficiently. We noticed you’ve frequently hit the memory limits of your shared hosting plan over the last couple weeks. When this happens, our system automatically stops web processes which could be negatively impacting your server’s performance. This means your visitors may see errors or be unable to access your website at all for brief periods of time.”

I was given the option to leave everything as-is, optimize my website (for which I didn’t understand the instructions), or upgrade to Virtual Private Server and spend a bit more. I asked a fellow blogger what I should do. Among other things, he suggested that if I were still on an older PHP (5.x), jump to 7.0. If you don’t know what that means, well neither do I.

I did that. I also did the SSL free certification for https, though I’m not sure why. Immediately, I received a Fatal error on my page. I undid the SSL.

The technical support folks disabled the blog counter, which they identified as the problem. Blog working, but there’s no sidebar! No search bar or links or way to get to 12.5 years of my posts. This made me terribly… well, DEPRESSED. I mean, the blog isn’t just the last item I wrote, it’s the body of work. There were some back-and-forth written messages with suggestions that did not change anything.

Finally, a week later I called their support guy. The solution? “It looks like the site ‘sidebar’ and counter plugin may have not been
working correctly due to them not being compatible with php 7. Once we switched your site back to run on php5.6 your counter and sidebar has
been restored.” Thanks, John!

But all of this work not only reminds me how weak I am in certain areas, it was a real drag on my finite time to actually write blog posts. At least it was fodder for one.