Blogging

This Month In Review - February 2017

Month_rev

WHOA! This month got away with me as far as blogging goes.  Doesn't help that it's a short month and I had to get a new laptop so that took some time away from here.  I still managed to get some writing in so here's what you might have missed in February:

Last month in my recap, I said let's see what February would bring.  It brought some unseasonably warm weather, more head scratching, and lots of coffee.  I attended my first Town Hall meeting over the weekend with my District Rep Sean Patrick Maloney. It was PACKED!  It was a good meeting, frustrating at times but not because of him but some of the others in attendance. Otherwise, I learned a lot.  Nothing like the screaming you see on TV happening elsewhere but then again, my rep is a Democrat and shares a lot of the same concerns as his constituents.  I'm glad I went and hope to attend more.

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

Where Do You Get Your News?

Fake news. Alternative facts. Our President is belittling reporters during press conferences.  The press is the enemy!! Now that Trump doesn't have to fight against Clinton to win an election, he needs to go after SOMETHING, why not the Press? 

News_Coffee

I know President Trump is not the first President to go after the media.  The media that he needs SO badly to stroke his ego. 

My favorite place to work was Newsweek Magazine. I worked there from 2002 to 2008. I was not in Editorial, I worked in Human Resources, but it was a great environment to work in.  Frustrating at times, but now I look back at that job more fondly than any other job.  I used to also work at DK & Penguin Publishing. My first real job was at a Legal Publisher, it sounds boring but it was still a publisher. The point is, I love publishing whether it's on paper or viewing on a tablet - literature, essays, commentaries, news coverage, are all necessary. I hate seeing what is happening with the media right now. I know it's not perfect, and there are biases on both sides, but they are not the enemy and not what is wrong with this country.  I try to use sound judgement before I share a link on Facebook or Twitter.  I see some pretty far-fetched stuff being shared that I don't even click on.

All politicians lie.  He's not a politician. He is the outsider. He is suppose to shake up the system. He's shaking things up alright, and leaving a big mess with no plan of clean up.

Where do I go for news? 

I read the "failing" New York Times (whose digital subscriptions have increased since the election) Politico, BBC News, and I just started reading The Intercept. I have a subscription to The New Yorker but not renewing (I'm just not too into it). I watch MSNBC for breaking news (even though I can't stand Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams), and BBC or Euro News for an outsider point of view.  I don't like CNN. I was turned off by CNN after the Sandy Hook school shooting and CNN was the first to name the gunman, using the wrong name - because the shooter had his brother's ID on him.  Instead of fact-checking, they jumped the gun. CNN has shown a few times that they care more about being first than being accurate, so screw 'em.  I do enjoy their documentaries though, I'll just leave it at that.  I have tried to watch Fox News but they are just as bad at fellating the current President as the other networks were with the President Obama. 

As a Blogger, I love the written word. I love reading it and I love writing it.  There is a lot of garbage online and on TV.  I respect freedom of press, even if it's crap.  But what do we do when people just won't accept facts and believe falsehoods? How do you get through someone who does not accept that the Earth is getting warmer? Who think it's okay to quote Trump's false crime rate statistics or having the most Electoral College votes?  If they are willing to believe trivial lies, what about when he lies about something YUGE - because it's coming.  

Where do you like to get your news from? 

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

Life Lately...

Lifelately

When I'm not obsessing and freaking out over politics, what else is going on?  

Currently

IMG_9359

Watching: Man In The High Castle.  How timely!  This was on my Amazon Prime watchlist for a very long time and haven't gotten around to watching it until now.  Based on the novel, it takes place during 1962 and it's been 15 years since the Axis won World War II.  The Nazis and Japanese have divided the U.S. into three parts - Nazis control the East, Japanese the West, and a lawless neutral zone in between. A "Resistance" is growing after a film emerges showing a different history of the U.S. winning the war which could lead to the Americans really gaining their freedom.

IMG_9360

Reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Marquez.  I'm a very slow reader and my focus sometimes is short.  Márquez is not easy for me to read.  This is my 3rd time trying to read his book.  I have this thing about him, I have a bunch of his books but I have a hard time reading them but I am determined to get through his novels and actually understand what is going on.  It is a personal quest for me.  The story is straight forward, it follows the family who founded a mythical town through generations.  Some of it is a bit whacked and a little child-rapey. On the other hand, I am enjoying my New York Times - Daily Edition for Kindle, I set up just after New Years.  I used to avoid the NY Times because their articles used to be really long-winded but I think they got hip to that after their subscriptions dropped significantly.  Now it's back up and I'd like to do my small part in supporting a business that Trump does not like.

Loving: Pour over coffee!  After my coffee maker died, I decided it was time to approach my coffee making a little different.  Instead of getting my coffee "instantly", I wanted my coffee to to taste GOOD!  Seriously, how often do you clean out your coffee makers? I did not do it enough and I'm always going through filters. No more machines & filters!! Do I get a French Press? There's too many steps involved. I don't mind taking a little extra time making coffee but I don't like too many "steps." Instead I saw the Osaka Pour Over Coffee Brewer and ordered it. I loved it, but it broke in less than two weeks.  So I ordered a Carafe by Coffee Gator

Fighting: Insomnia. Almost every night, I fall asleep without any problem but I will wake up just a couple of hours later. Sometimes I fall back asleep just to wake up again, or I just stay awake.  This has been going on for years.   Some nights are better than others.   I've tried yoga, wine, less coffee, shutting off my electronic devices an hour before bedtime, reading in bed, I just can't get my mind to shut down and REST. 

Doing: Getting acquainted with my new MacBook.  As timing would have it, just as I was planning on buying an new laptop since my home computer is almost dead, the laptop I have for work also died!  So after a week of scrambling, I got a new baby and work sent me a new laptop and I'm getting back on track and also back to blogging.  I had to break my "2 blog posts per week" goal last week (and this week) but I'll get back to it next week.

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

This Month In Review - January 2017

I want to start doing monthly recaps on my blog just as a way to see if I'm sticking to my writing goal for the year. So far I'm doing good with my two blog posts per week and feel like I'm settling in to a groove (yes this recap counts ha ha!).

Month_rev

January was a doozy! Not a quiet month, that's for sure.

I'm still trying to wrap my  head around the circus fiasco of this past weekend with the #MuslimBan and the promotion of Steven Bannon - holy fuck! Let's see what February will bring! It could be good, it could be bad, but it won't be uneventful.

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

Stuck In a Blogging Block?

I don't want to tell you how to manage your blog.  I've already written about how tired I was of everyone with a blog telling me how to make my blog better.  Who writes a blog post every day? I'm lucky if I can hammer out a post out a week although I'm committed to my goal for this year. I am crawling out of my biggest blogging block yet and I thought it would be fun to write about how I did it. 

Blog_block

Quality was always more important to me than quantity but dry spells are common.  The brain just taps out and I don't know what to write about.  So I take a blogging break, that's okay.  But I'm back and rejuvenated and let the burnt-outness pass.  That's my first tip on how to get out of a blogging block: 

  • Ride it out!  If you suffer from insomnia, they say the harder you try to sleep, the longer you will stay awake.  So....don't try so  hard.  Stop thinking about it. 
  • Read other blogs: Don't flat out COPY someone else, but you may come across a blog post that will trigger inspiration to share your own point of view. Which leads to my next point...
  • Respond to an article you read.  This has been a BIG help for me when I came back to this blog late last year.  That's how I came up with the blog post, Don't You Want To Be A Mom?
  • Draft random ideas & save: I have a bunch of incomplete drafts saved in my blog. Some drafts just consist of random words that I will get back to (eventually). I can quickly access my blog on my phone which is where I store most of my brain storming ideas.
  • Go to a bookstore: I have not done this but I love this suggestion from SmartBlogger

That's it! It's a small list but it's worked for me.   How do you get out of your writers block? 

More Reading

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

New Year, New Goals

Did you ring in the new year celebrating? It's okay if you slept through it. I mean it's just another day right? On the other hand,  it's hard not to approach a new year as a fresh start to do or work on something, admit it.  

Jan2017

Yeah, it's cool to say everyday is a new beginning, that's true.  You don't HAVE TO wait for a new year to start something new, but you can't deny it's a good time to try.  I don't make resolutions but I use the new year as a good time to look at my goals and see where I stand with them. Maybe make new ones? 

What do I want to do more of? Writing.  Yay a "Writing Challenge!"

I love to write, ever since I was little. I'm not the best creative writer. I can't write stories or novels, I tried and lost interest. But I love to write my thoughts and opinions on various things. Maybe words of encouragement.  I've read many encouraging blog posts and articles that have lifted my spirits. I hope I can do the same for someone else. 

What I need, and work best with, is structure. I need to set specific guidelines and also be realistic.  I'm not planning to publish a blog post every day, HA!! Get serious.   I still want to challenge myself so I'm going to shoot for two new posts per week, starting with this one. Which means 104 new blog posts by the end of the year.  I think I can pull it off. 

Have you given yourself a challenge for 2017?

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

A Quickie Guide To Google Analytics

Previously published at Pulp Sushi in July 2015

Oooh I love quickies! (What??) I mean quick and easy tutorials especially to something as complex as Google Analytics.

GAOne of the things I do for Typepad is I help out with their blog, Everything Typepad.  Every month I share a tutorial for our bloggers.   I once posted a tutorial about using Google Analytics.  

Since using Google Analytics is not limited to just Typepad bloggers, I wanted to give it a plug here as there are tips and pointers which could come in handy for many folks who are interested in learning more about who is visiting their blog.  It's good to see how your blog is working in attracting visitors, whether it's through your keywords and tags, your social media plugs, or other bloggers sharing your links.  

I've been using Google Analytics for a few years and I have barely scratched the surface.  There is just SO much data you can gather.

GEO
In my Typepad piece, I focus on the features I refer to my personal blog which you can read in full here

Do you use Google Analytics? How do you keep track of your blog visitors? 

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

Things To Do On A Snow Day

Snowday

There is a winter storm hitting the mid to north East Coast this weekend.  Where I live, we don't expect to get too much snow compared to other states, we're expecting 2-6 inches but I do love when a snow storm is coming.  I love the first day of a significant snowfall.  It's so peaceful, quiet, and pure.  It is also a good excuse to stay inside all day and not feel guilty about it.  What do I like to do during a snow fall? 

Start the day with my favorite breakfast - Oatmeal! Most mornings I have it with coffee but something about snow makes me want a Chai. If you're looking for some really good tea with global inspired ingredients, check out my review for Joyful Hearts Culturally Inspired Beverages

If you're smart, you're already stocked up with food and the necessities.  By "necessities" I mean cake, coffee, chocolate, some chips, wings and I guess some fruit so you don't feel too guilty.

Blanket

Blankets! Of course you need a blanket, how else are going to curl up on the couch with a book?  This blanket was given to me as a gift from a coworker when I was working at Newsweek.  This blanket has been with me many years, it's starting to fall apart a little but I don't care, it's sooooo warm and cozy. 

I'm currently reading Yes Please by Amy Poehler.  I've been curious about this book and a lot of people who I respect and admire have read and raved about it so it was time to check it out for myself.  So far I'm enjoying it.  You can still curl with an actual book too, I still love books.  Actually, I can't read my Kindle too close to bedtime because it screws up my sleep so I keep a physical book on my bed stand. Reading helps me fall asleep.

My Roku gets a lot of use on a Snow Day.  There is always something to watch between the WWE Network, Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, it is amazing how much the the time will fly by.  I love to watch documentaries.  I already watched Making A Murderer, I'm looking to find the next program I can binge on.  Got any suggestions? 

Snow1
Of course there's just admiring the snow coming down.   I took this picture during last year's big snow storm looking out to our patio.  It's fun to look for little animal prints in the snow. 

I can't watch local programming during a snow storm because all the channels will have constant, non-stop news coverage acting like it's the end of the freakin' world. So books, Roku, catching up with blogs, brain storming blog post ideas, stuffing my face while wearing my pajamas is how I love to spend my snow days.  

What kind of things do you like to do when you're snowed in? 

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

Comparison Is The Death Of Joy

Compare

That's a great quote from Mark Twain isn't it? I recently read this article "Don’t Fall Into This Trap That Could Destroy Your Blog" - I know! More blog preaching, but please hear me out.

This is a piggy back on the blog tip I shared recently.  First, this article is from 2013 but the issue is still relevant to blogging today. We get inspired by blogs we enjoy and follow and think how super fun and awesome it would be to just blog for a living right? We would be writing insightful articles while sitting in a swank cafe sipping our latte, taking a picture of that latte, making a difference, changing lives, yeah, thats not what really  happens even if the blogger wants you to believe that.   That's the point of the article, to never take what you perceive at face value. 

I see this at my job sometimes too. I would be working on a Help ticket where the person says "I want my blog to look like www.someonesprettyblog.com." and I roll my eyes. I do!  We try to encourage people not to directly copy another blogger's design but some folks just don't care. They want to be another Seth Godin! Do you know how long Seth has been blogging for?? They think if they copy said big-name blogger, they will instantly gain the readership and notoriety too. 

Works

We compare ourselves to others more than we care to admit.  This does not apply just to blogging, we compare our business, families, appearance, we SAY we don't care what others think, but it still happens.  It happens to me.  It's partly the reason why I am taking a break from Pulp Sushi.  I can't help but compare on the success of other jewelry shops and where I seem to be lacking.  

However, I can't let myself be consumed by this and neglect my other interests.  If something I used to enjoy stops bringing me joy, it may be time to move on. Not saying I won't come back to it, but moving on can be therapeutic and helps with finding a new joy or rediscovering joy that has been buried under other stuff (like blogging!).

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal

Here's A Blog Tip: Stop Telling Me What To Do

Stop

It was a slow build but it finally escalated in 2015 and almost turned me off from blogging COMPLETELY.  What is "It" you ask? It was seeing several bloggers telling me how to be a better blogger! 

I miss the days before Social Media where people HAD to read your blog to see what's new with you.  Don't get me wrong, I love Twitter now, but I remember when leaving comments was a form of communicating with friends.  Thanks to Facebook and Instagram, that's no longer needed.

Honestly, how many different ways can someone write the same post?  

  • 10 Things To Improve Your Blog
  • 20 Ways To Be A Better Blogger
  • 30 Things You're Doing Wrong With Your Blog
  • 40 Reasons Why No One Is Reading Your Blog
  • 50 Ways To Please Shut The Hell Up!!

A few blogs I follow were almost regurgitating the same information over and over. Not to mention all the pins on Pinterest, seriously? I just want to look at pretty things, I don't want to think about what I'm doing wrong!  Anyone else seeing this or am I just being crotchety?

I hated that I was getting sucked into this world of "Make Your Blog Perfect and MAKE MONEY!!!!!"  Well I don't care anymore.  I don't care if one person or 5,000 read this. 

My only goal for 2016, and every year going forward, is to do more of what I want to do, do more of what makes me happy. If that means writing a trivial post bitching about bloggers, so be it.   

Can we just get back to showing our true selves on our blog instead of portraying a "personality" and not try so hard? 

 

Follow me on Twitter @inkandcoffeegal