Blogjam vs. Block

Everyone’s familiar with “writer’s block,” the point where a writer working on a specific project either can’t start or can’t finish. (The movie Stranger Than Fiction not only gives a great portrayal of the problem, but some wonderful spiritual analogies and philosophical questions as well.)

Bloggers—at least those of us who share our lives and insights rather than links to news releases and such, have a different problem: it’s not a block, but a logjam. Blogjam. There’s not a scarcity of stuff to write about, but everything touches on the theme of your blog, and choosing what part of everything to present is the challenge.

Here’s an example of the challenge as I’m experiencing it:

  • I came back from a mini-vacation to spend Thanksgiving with my parents, whom I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. Blog material there? Not really.
  • I’m still processing the ongoing ideas that Mark and his sensei have been sharing this month at Eternal Awareness. Blog material there? You betcha. But I’ve little to add because Mark says it all so well.
  • I watched West Side Story last night for the first time in ages. It made me cry as it always does. I thought about just putting up a post asking you to share what movies make you cry. Seemed kind of flimsy, though, like my last real post this month on studying Spanish!
  • And then there’s just this thought that’s been in my head today. It’s from an observation that Fr. Matthew Fox made in The Coming of the Cosmic Christ. that the Greek god Chronos ate his children, but Christ gave himself to his children to eat. I’d thought I’d give some nice, deep, philosophical observation on the destructive and constructive principles, time vs. eternity, or some similar bullshit. But I’d feel that it’s bullshit, so I wouldn’t. Except that I just did. Oh, well.

So that’s my blogjam. In fact, I’ve got four drafts ready to go on different subjects that I thought I’d use when I didn’t know what else to post, but none of them feel appropriate to the day either.

So take your pick, comment on whatever you like–blogjams, movies that make you cry, metaphysical principles, what’s going on in your lives.

I’m back (and panting)!

Firefox 2OK, sorry for the obtuse joke in my last post … it was an “off the top of my head” sort of thing. I knew no one would get it, but I thought it sounded like a koan, so I couldn’t resist. Yeah, a lame excuse for a lame post. Sorry!

It’s been very busy for me, but I’m getting my feet back on the ground. And what do I discover except that I’m nearly a month behind on reading some of my friends’ blogs!

Talk about feeling overwhelmed! I’m also studying PHP, and trying to get my head around multi-dimensional arrays. I just seem to have some sort of block there; but the good news is I feel like I’m on the verge of breaking through it.

I also breathed a huge sigh of relief last week when the official release of IE 7 was made available. I was largely responsible for making sure our sites survived the change without breaking, and up through the last beta, it looked like Microsoft was tampering with their Quirks mode rendering, a potential nightmare.

But who cares!? Firefox 2 was released today, (in conjunction with Firefox parties around the world)! If you aren’t already using Firefox, start! You’ll be glad you did. It’s a vastly superior browser; for one thing, it’s spell-checking this post as I type it! (No more illegible posts from the Frimster!) Beyond that, its flexibility with add-ons and customization is unbelievable.

I’m still going back through old posts and removing the old Textile markup. I disabled the Textile converter on my WordPress engine, so although recent posts look better, those from my first year of blogging may look pretty weird, especially the links, but this will be fixed soon.

I want to write so much, but as I mentioned, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. One thing I especially want to do is write some more detailed movie reflections, such as Dune/Children of Dune, and Peaceful Warrior. I also have a short story I wrote a few years ago, which will be ready for submission after just a bit more fleshing-out. It’s a dystopian science-fiction story with a “rage-against-the-machine” feeling. When I visited it again, it reminded me how I’ve neglected that area of my talents.

I am catching up. Slowly.

Blog Update

Just a short update: I’m still removing Textile code?its going to take a while, and until that’s finished, there will still be some strange line-breaks and paragraphing issues. Meanwhile, though, I’ve added a few new categories: “Music,” “Bible/Sacred Texts”, and “Nonduality.” I eliminated “Current Events”?all those posts are found under “Peace and Justice.” I’m re-categorizing some of the posts as I go back through them.

Whew. Time for a break

Five six posts in five in six days. I need to take a break. Not because I’m tired or am running out of things to say, but I need to do some serious housekeeping on the blog here. It’s a little technical, but WordPress users and interested geeks should keep reading.

I love WordPress. I can’t imagine switching to any other publishing engine, unless I build one myself sometime . (Yeah, right). But WP has a serious problem: Neither of its Textile plug-ins work.

Jim Rigg’s plugin hasn’t had any new development for a long time. It works decently for most of the stuff I want it to do, but lately, with the newest version of WP, is wrecking havoc with my paragraphs, line breaks, and blockquotes, and even editing in HTML doesn’t fix it as long as the plugin is enabled. Since it’s based on Brad Choate’s excellent version of Textile for Movable Type, which I used for well over a year, its features are what I think of when I think of Textile.

Then there’s Joel Bennett’s excellent TextileWrapper for WP. Although this was updated and released just a few days ago, It’s even less acceptable to me. Bennett says that this truly is Dean Allen’s Textile for WP, no core code or features changed at all. Perhaps it does work just like that for Textpattern, but that doesn’t seem to be happening, and if it is the case, it’s Choate-style Textile I need.

For instance, one of the things I found most convenient about Choate’s Textile, is how easy it was to add a class to virtually any element, without going into the HTML. I use a class for indicating which links are external and producing a little “offsite” symbol, for instance. Not only is that not working in this build of of WP and Bennett’s release, but it doesn’t insert classes for a tags, inline styles for anything that I can tell, and freaks out when Textile markup is nested within other markup.

I have but one solution: Get rid of all the Textile markup, since I don’t know how any future release of WP or ported-over versions of Textile will play with together. This will not be fun. I have over two hundred 230 posts now, probably 160 or so with Textile code. But I need to do this now before it gets worse.

See ya.

Time for a change

When I returned to blogging in April, I switched my publishing engine from “(ext)Movable Type”: to “(ext)WordPress”: I never got around to really integrating my static pages with my blog. In fact, I’ve simply used various WP themes (such as the “desert” theme and now this one) for my home page, while my interior pages continued to use my own very different (and increasingly dated) styles.

It’s time to fix that… and merge WP functionality with some new CSS of my own. So, expect things to be in flux. (As if they were’nt already! Anicca, anicca.

I have returned!

Remember, I never said I was coming back on April 1st! But I am back now. Things became very busy for me, so that vision of free evenings spent in contemplation and so forth didn’t happen… and I think that blogging actually is one of my most important spiritual exercises now. The fact is, I need you guys–I really do.

A few changes to the site: A couple of you caught up with me today about “fatal errors” on my site. That’s fixed now. I’ve switched the blogging engine to WordPress, and although I had a false start, things are running smoothly. This afternoon and evening, you might have seen my home page completely unstyled, which was an observance of CSS Naked Day, a light-hearted and rather nerdy effort by Web coders/designers to promote interest in Web standards and CSS. Probably didn’t do much but to get you to think my “fatal errors” had morphed into “comatose mistakes!” 🙂

Also: Although I couldn’t be happier about the move to WordPress, it’s going to take me a while to modify the templates and style it to suit me. Be patient… (after all, I have to be!)

And lastly: The comments?the 500 comments that you left for me over the last two yearsdidn’t make it. Unfortunately the only script to import Haloscan comments into WP assumes that I’m also importing posts from Blogger, which of course I wasn’t–I’d been using Movable Type. After days of trying to find a way to move the comments into the posts, I’ve given up for the most part. When I have time, I probably will manually import a few “keepers,” but it’s going to be very few if any. I’d love to keep them all, but I’ve been presented with a lesson in non-attachment.

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I shall return…

But not in March. I need a vacation from blogging, so I’m taking it now. I’ll be back in April. Blogging is wonderful, and I’m hooked. The best thing of all is getting to know people, even making close friends, from around the world, sharing insights, confusion, perspectives, laughs…

I had no idea where this would take me when I decided to add a blog to my site two years ago. Almost every day, I visit Singapore, Chicago and California! I travel the world in minutes, soaking up days of inspiration in seconds, from traditions around the world. I’m a spiritual junkie who got impatient with having the Spirit poured onto him, and has been mainlining It with a syringe the size of Norfolk.

It also takes a lot of my time. I can spend a lot of time writing a post, and I always spend a lot of time reading them. And the posts they’re linked to. And the posts they’re linked to…

I’m not the only one. My friend Mark has gone on a temporary blog sabbatical, Trev just came back from one, and Isaiah’s rest is (unfortunately) long-term.

Like them, I need to slow down a bit and digest more. I need to process some stuff privately before I can really incorporate it into my public writing. For example, the experience I wrote about in January is still changing my view of things. I can’t write about it when I don’t know what the heck I feel about it myself. And if you think I’ve probably written a dozens of pages about it in my private journal, think again. I need to, though, and I need to sit and meditate, write more poetry, organize what I’ve written, and just rest and relax a bit more, and interface more with “wetware.”

And on the other hand, I need to learn more PHP and improve my abyssmal programming skills, and stuff like that. I also want to redesign the site and maybe convert the MT blog to WordPress or something else, perhaps.

But I will return. And unlike 2003-2004 when I vanished for months, I’ll be back next month. That’s a promise. When I do, expect the site to look a bit different. And who knows? Maybe those long-awaited reviews of Harry Potter and Star Wars might manifest!

Please don’t think I’m on retreat or quitting electronic communications. You can keep in touch with me by email, and I’m still reading blogs, (though I might ease up on that slightly). Also, I’m still facilitating the WisdomReading group, and you’re still invited to join!

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Blog is back

Well, my blog is working again. I tried to upgrade to Movable Type 3.2 over the weekend, and ran into a nightmare of issues. Finally, I came to my senses today and reverted back to my antiquated 2.661. I will upgrade eventually, but I’m in no hurry after that mess.

A Cure for Procrasination

Here’s a cure for procrastination I discovered: It’s the
Foxy Tunes extension for Firefox (And c’mon?I’ve said it before, but seriously, if you’re using Internet Explorer, be good to yourself and switch switch to Firefox!)

This extension allows to control your favorite music player from the status bar of the Firefox browser. On of the optional controls is an Alarm Clock / Sleep Timer function. If I’ve been putting something off, I’ll select 10 minutes on the sleep timer to do the off-put thing while I listen to my favorite iTunes playlist. (And if I want to listen to more music, I have to agree to do more work and reset the Sleep Timer!)

It’s working for me !

Great program for blog-reading.

Those of you who aren’t using Firefox as your browser really should switch. (Unless you’re on Mac OS X and using Safari, of course!) I’ve been using FF for nearly a year now, and I’ve never considered going back to IE for one second.

Firefox renders CSS amazingly better than Internet Explorer; it’s more secure, and it’s lightning-fast. Some pages on my site load nearly three times faster in Firefox than IE!

It offers “tabbed browsing” which allows you to have several Web pages in the same window, instead of a new window on the taskbar for every single page. That might not sound like much, but once you get used to it, you’re never going back! But the best thing of all is the array of extensions that are being written for Firefox, which are easily downloadable from the Firefox Web site, which automatically, painlessly install.

This weekend I downloaded a Firefox feed reader extension called “Sage”. If you don’t know what a feed reader is, allow me to explain. Blogs and other frequently updated sites have “news feeds” in one or more formats?Atom, RDF, or several versions of RSS. (All Blogger blogs come with an Atom news feed, for example.)

A news reader takes the news feed and displays it on screen, and can manage your subscription to all your favorite blogs, let you organize them as you like, and show you when there is a new post.

When you open up Sage in Firefox, It will display all of your subscribed blogs in the sidebar of the browser, along with the titles of the posts. The posts themselves appear in the main window, allowing you to see at-a-glance what’s new. If the feed is summarized, the post, only a short digest will be seen (allowing you to see even more at-a-glance). If you want to leave or view comments, or read the full text of a summarized post, just click on the title of the post. If you just want to view the page in your browser as normal, click on the title fo the blog.

Here are the links and step-by-step instructions.:

1. If you haven’t already, download Firefox

2. Install Firefox, import bookmarks, etc.

3. Install Sage

4. Close and restart Firefox.

5. To start Sage, click on Tools, and click on Sage.

6. To subscribe to feeds, go to a blog you want to subscribe to, and you’ll see a blue “RSS” appear in the right-hand side of the bottom status bar. Click it and it will ask if you want to subscribe to a feed on the page. If there is more than one feed available, it will show. you. My blog is published in two feeds, Atom and RSS. The Atom version will feed the entire text of each post, with pictures; the RSS version will just present the first sixty words, and no pictures, unless you click to read the entire post. Click on the feed you want to subscribe to.

7. A small window will ask what you want to name the feed, and where you want to create it. I recommend clicking on the dropdown and choosing Sage Feeds.
7. Do this for all the blogs you track. You can then organize them however you want, rename them, etc.