Welcome to the first Blog Soup of the new year!
- I’m on shift 12 of 14 in a row at work. Don’t feel too bad for me, though. I did it to myself. We normally work six shifts in a row followed by a three-day or six-day break. I picked up a trade and a couple of overtime days last weekend, which is why I’m on such a long stretch. It also includes five shifts training a new guy. I am looking forward to some time off next week.
- Next Thursday I’ll hit my nine-year anniversary in Dispatch. Before I know it, I’ll be having a retirement party and taking my grandchildren to Disney World.
- I’ve been working on our spring season race calendar. Right now I only have two big events planned, but I might add some smaller events in between. First up is a return to the Cowtown half marathon on Feb 24. As you might recall, Cowtown was my first half marathon last February. I barely missed my goal of finishing under two hours. After a more leisurely and fun half at Disney World earlier this month, I am training hard to break 2:00 next month. I know my body is capable of it. The only question is whether everything will come together to make it happen that day.
- Our other event is a 100K bike rally near our first house, the Cross Timbers Classic Bike Rally. It starts with a lap on the track at Texas Motor Speedway in north Fort Worth and does a loop through the surrounding area. Jenny and I both signed up for the 100K ride (62 miles). So far our longest ride was 50 miles at Hotter’N Hell back in August, so this one will be a new challenge.
- I used some Amazon gift cards to get a cool new toy, an iHome rechargeable speaker dock for my iPhone. Why is that cool, you ask? It lets me carry the speaker to any room in the house and listen to my music or Pandora. I’ll mainly use it for listening during a soak in the bathtub (no outlets in the bathtub room) or in the kitchen while hanging out with the kids. It’s maybe a foot wide and has a built-in dock for my iPhone or iPad. For such a small unit, the sound is surprisingly good.
- Aussie tennis star Samantha Stosur has better arms than I do.
- I was thrilled by the deep run that young American Sloane Stephens enjoyed at this year’s Australian Open, especially her huge win over Serena Williams. Stephens is developing into a phenomenal player and also seems like a very warm and good-natured person. If she can stay healthy and handle all the pressure, she seems poised to take over as queen of American women’s tennis.
- I don’t really understand the drama over gun control. The pro-gun people are all worked up because they think the government is trying to take all their guns, which is untrue. The anti-gun people think that tighter gun control laws will keep us safe, which is also untrue. Based on what little I’ve read, the measures being proposed would not have stopped most of the mass shootings from the last 10-20 years. Even if these new measures pass, I doubt they will have much impact. The only way to completely eliminate gun violence in America is to wave a magic wand and make all guns worldwide disappear. Even I don’t think that’s a good idea, even if it were possible.
- An acquaintance of mine decided to take out $50,000 in student loans to get a master’s in film from a private school in California. Now she can’t find a job but owes nearly $700/month in student loan payments. She set up a crowdfunding site to raise money to pay her loan. Part of me wants to help, but the other part thinks she was unwise to borrow that kind of money to pursue a degree with such questionable marketability. Just thinking that makes me feel old.
- Screw my man card. I wish I had Lady Gaga tickets for Tuesday.
- Jonathan had his three-year-old checkup this week. He was very healthy as expected. He measured 90th percentile for both weight (37 lbs) and height (39.5 inches). His language and motor skills are normal. We’re working hard on potty training this weekend. It still amazes me to watch these two grow up.
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa / Festivus and have begun to recover. We enjoyed a lovely Christmas celebration on the 24th and 25th. After rescheduling for illness, we’re visiting Jenny’s family tonight for Christmas #3. At some point we’ll take the tree down, but we’re in no hurry. It’s nice to let Christmas linger a bit.
In lieu of New Year’s resolutions, which I have given up, I wanted to look back on this year on the site. It’s still a small blog as blogs go, I suppose, but I’m honored to have gotten 38,000 hits from thousands of people on various posts and static pages, including visitors from 161 countries. Thank you all for continuing to read my little blog. You are the main reason I do this.
In terms of hits, here are the ten most popular posts from this year:
- My Little Pony and the Terrifying Threat of Gayness
- Act Naturally!
- Titanic 3D – Is It Worth It?
- Random Facts About Me for May 2012
- Men in Tights
- The Following Movie is Rated R
- There’s Always Someone Better
- Southwest-AirTran Dispatcher Seniority Update
Post popularity depends heavily on getting picked up by search engines like Google and getting people to share your post with others via social media, online discussion boards, others blogs, etc. That’s why your favorite post might or might not be on this list. That’s also why pictures of our family vacations or cute things my kids did aren’t on this list.
I also wanted to list a few of my personal favorites that weren’t as widely read but still made me happy:
What about you? Do you remember any particular favorites from this year?
When I get an idea for a blog post, I don’t necessary write it immediately. Maybe I don’t have time. Maybe I’m still wrestling with exactly what to say or what my position is. Maybe I’m not sure I actually want to follow through.
If I’m not going to write the post immediately, I generally save the idea as a draft and let it cook for a while. Maybe I’ll pick it up later, maybe not. Sometimes it sits there for a long time until I’ve lost interest in the topic or it’s no longer relevant. Other times I finally figure out what I want to say and publish it a few days or weeks after the original idea.
In case you want to peek behind the curtain, here are some ideas in my drafts folder that might or might not actually show up here someday:
- Standing in a Canoe – My struggle to cling to Jesus when there’s so much that doesn’t make sense to me. Unfinished because I’m not sure you guys want to read it.
- Girl, Look at That Body – Different people prefer different body styles in the opposite sex (swimmer, average Joe, bodybuilder, runner, lots to love, etc.). It would be an interesting topic for discussion and would lend itself nicely to a large photo gallery. However, with so many people dissatisfied with their bodies, I fear it would do more harm than good.
- Why I Am (Mostly) a Flaming Liberal Christian Freak – How can I not publish something with a title like that? I’ve actually written much of this one already. It includes Biblical reasons for my support of most liberal causes. But I’m trying to be less divisive. =)
- Mainlining – A look at the mainline Christian church, a broad umbrella for the Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and other groups who are neither Catholic nor evangelical (Baptist, Church of Christ, Assembly of God, charismatic, etc.). As a group, mainliners are shrinking, due largely to their refusal to proselytize aggressively. But their beliefs generally align better with my own. My buddy Keith (webmaster at BagOfNothing.com) thinks like I do, and he feels more at home in his new Presbyterian church.
- The Wrong Side of History – In many generations, our society changes its views significantly on one or two major moral issues. In the mid-1800s, it was slavery. In the early 1900s, it was women’s suffrage. In the mid-1900s, it was racial equality and women’s rights. On each of these issues, the majority that preferred the status quo eventually became the minority, and later generations always came to view the old perspective as wrong, backwards, and shameful. The majority wound up being on the wrong side of history. I believe the issue today is gay rights, and that those who continue to support discrimination against gay people will eventually become the minority and be viewed as wrong and embarrassing by my children’s and grandchildren’s generations. Again, since I’m trying to be less divisive, at least for a bit, I’m holding on to this idea for now.
- Bring Them Home – I had this idea for redoing the lyrics to the Les Miserables song “Bring Him Home” to address our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. But then I actually read the original lyrics and realized that yeah, it wouldn’t really work that well. I need to just delete this one.
- Preventing Breast Cancer – With the recent controversy over mammogram recommendations, Planned Parenthood and Susan G. Komen, I got to thinking about why we focus so much on detecting breast cancer and so little on reducing the preventable risk factors. I just haven’t taken the time to do the research for this one.
- Moving My Cheese at Southwest – I wrote this one in anticipation of a new job I was hoping to get. I wound up staying where I was, but I can’t bring myself to delete it. Maybe I’ll just post it anyway as a joke and confuse everyone.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief peek behind the curtain. If you’re dying to read any of these, please post a comment. I might be persuadable. Thanks as always for visiting.
Itâ€™s hard to be a blogger. Iâ€™ve done it for several years now and love it, but itâ€™s hard. Youâ€™ve probably noticed that Iâ€™m not quite as, um, bloggy as I have been in months or years past. There are several reasons that Iâ€™ll share in a moment.
However, we did hit a milestone recently: my 1000th post. Does that sound like a lot? It does to me. And thatâ€™s just the ones I have on this version of the site, which includes everything since 2006. My old site had additional updates from before 2006, a blog of sorts before I even knew to call it a blog, that I never got around to converting into the new format.
Anyway, Iâ€™m still committed to this site, but here are the main reasons Iâ€™ve slowed down:
- Work – Due to some changes at work, itâ€™s a bit more difficult to find the opportunity to write, find fun pictures, and work on the design. PM me if you want to know more details. (I hear a fairy-sized Deion Sanders yelling at me, â€œShame on you for letting The Man keep you down!â€)
- Ideas – Sometimes I have several good ideas. On occasion Iâ€™ll think of a good topic and save it for later, giving me a queue of posts gestating until the opportunity arrives. Other times I hit a dry patch when Iâ€™m just living my life and things are good but nothing really seems worth writing about. My muse is fickle. She comes and goes and never leaves a note.
- Types of Posts – As youâ€™ve probably seen, I post lots of different stuff here. My favorite ones to write are the really heavy ones that stretch my brain, make me do research or wrestle with an important topic, and leave me feeling like Iâ€™ve accomplished something. If I stretch a readerâ€™s brain and maybe even generate a thoughtful comment, that post gets bonus points. However, as you probably figured, those are the hardest ones to write and tend to take the longest, which limits how often I can do them. You guys voted that this type of post isnâ€™t your favorite, either, maybe because some of my views are on the wacky side. Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™ve tried to shift the focus of the blog a bit since the poll to focus a little more on the topics you guys like best: updates on my family, random stuff about me, and humor. Unfortunately, itâ€™s not always easy to find anything worth sharing about the dump that Jonathan took in the bathtub (OK, that was a little funny. Two weeks later. Since Jenny kindly cleaned it up.), the nail in our tire on the swagger wagon, or my new carbon-neutral electric weed whacker.
- Facebook – Sure, itâ€™s an easy scapegoat for lots of issues, but in the case of my blog slowdown, it does deserve a bit of responsibility. Itâ€™s not that I spend too much time on Facebook to blog, although I do spend a lot of time there. Itâ€™s that many of the tidbits and links I want to share with the world are very, very easy to share on Facebook and more complex to share on here. If I find an interesting article, hear something amusing, or take a funny picture of the boys, I can post it to my Facebook wall with a couple of clicks and easily add commentary through my phone. So naturally I post more stuff on Facebook. A lot more. And itâ€™s only for the people I actually know (and choose not to block) because some of it is more personal.
So rest assured, Iâ€™m not abandoning AndyBox.com, but for the forseeable future, I wonâ€™t be posting 20+ times a month like Iâ€™ve done at times in the past. As always, I welcome your feedback!
One of the most liberating and difficult parts of having a general-purpose personal blog like this is the sheer number of possible topics to write about. It also doesn’t help that I’m interested in many, many different subjects. So I need your help, faithful readers. You keep coming back because something about this blog makes it worth your time. What are your favorite topics? What should I write about more often? You can post whatever you want in the comments, or vote in the poll on the right.
Sorry, Lisa, I decided to give the site another facelift. I liked the old look pretty well except for a couple of things, particularly how it handled menus. Remember how they were shoved to the right and how some of the multi-level menus got lost off the right side of your monitor?
I found a way to fix the menu problem and to easily change the photo at the top instead of just cycling through random photos. The above pic, for example, I took on a Miami beach in October. I also reorganized the menus a bit so they are easier to use. What do you think?