As some of you may have noticed, I’ve closed comments on this blog. I’m moving the blog to a new location (part of my consolidation effort, which matters more to me than to any of you, actually ;)) and need to freeze things for the transfer. But with the move I’m also trying something different: a blog sans comments.
It’s not because I don’t love you, or because I don’t like your comments, or because of the recent kerfuffle over Prop 8. (I’ve actually been planning this for almost half a year now.) In all honesty, I don’t know exactly why this feels like the right thing to do right now, but it does. It’s time for a few changes, and this is one of them. (The others will be forthcoming and relatively minor in comparison.)
Now, I’m not trying to shut you down as an audience. I care very much what you think and say, whether I agree with you or not, and I hope that comes across. (Apologies if it hasn’t.) I’m still interested in your thoughts, so if you do have something to say in response to a post, please feel free to send me an email. What I hope will happen is that this will make the conversations more intimate and meaningful. (Which isn’t to say the ones on the blog weren’t meaningful. :))
Anyway, I hope to have the switch to the new site ready within the next few days. There’ll be a new URL, but the old one will redirect to the new one and so things should work just fine. And hopefully this is a step forward. :)
P.S. I’m interested to hear what y’all’s perspective is on this whole shutting off of the comments thing, so shoot me an email if you’ve got an opinion. Thanks.
This morning I came up with a novel concept for this blog, inspired by my growing addiction to Twitter: brevity. Instead of brain-dumping almost every post, I’ll say everything I need to say in as few words as possible. This is a good thing. :) (If I have long posts, they’ll be well thought out, not just ramblings.)
This also means that my posts here will move from being mostly informational to being an experience. If that doesn’t make sense, keep reading this blog and it will before long. :) We’re aiming for pith and wit, folks. Here goes…
Has it really been four days since I last blogged? Goodness. Some people can blog once a week or once a month, and that’s great for them, but I can’t do that. And these gaps between posts — it’s been a few months now since I slowed down from my almost-daily schedule — are bothering me. Turns out I’m the kind that pretty much has to post every day, or at least try. And so we’re going back to a post a day, starting today.
(Thought: I wonder if the reason I haven’t been blogging as much is that I’ve been writing more on Twitter. Hmm…)
Anyway, I want to blog about books more often (as you may have noticed). Books are a huge lifeblood for me, and the more I write about them, the happier I get. So expect more book posts from now on. :)
And in recent book news, I stopped by Deseret Book at the mall last week when I was waiting for the ShieldZone guy to affix the shield to my iPhone, and I ended up being lured into buying a Mini Gramercy edition of Jane Eyre (my third copy of the book), primarily because (a) it was small and (b) I really, really, really like the word “Gramercy.” (Probably because it’s associated with The Dark Is Rising in my subconscious.) “Gramarye” is a related word I really like.
I’ve also bought the Anthony Esolen translation of Dante’s Inferno and I’m seven or eight cantos in and loving it. Continuing on with the recent-translations-of-classics kick, I bought a boxed set of the Penguin Deluxe Editions of Robert Fagles’ translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Mmm. And just today I passed the bargain corner of the bookstore and picked up Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink (which I read a year or so ago and loved) and James O’Donnell’s biography of Augustine.
Have I mentioned that buying books makes me happy? :) I know, I know, material purchases shouldn’t bring me joy. And usually they don’t, but books are different.
Quantity or quality? When I first sat down to write this post (fifteen seconds ago), I thought I was going to say that I want to write higher-quality articles and that’ll mean less frequent posts. But then I remembered this quote from Art & Fear:
The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an “A”.
Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
But is that even the question? Is this even about blogging? Or is it about making stuff instead?
That’s what I do, you see. I make stuff. And lately I’ve been realizing that I do a lot of peripheral, auxiliary things that take time away from making stuff. Some of those things are good and essential. But others — perhaps many — are a waste of time, and letting them continue to leech my creative time and energy is a) stupid, b) irresponsible, and c) soul-shattering. (By that I mean that it splinters my soul so I’m not in harmony with myself. Or something like that.)
Anyway, I don’t think this means I’m going to stop blogging, or even necessarily blog less. What it does mean is that I need to do everything I do with passion. Including blog posts. Am I doing that here? I’m not sure — I get the feeling that it’s hit and miss, perhaps more miss than hit. Something to work on. More later. (I’ve got to get some work done on this ward directory before bed.)
I think the view counter on here is somewhat broken. You see, it’s saying Saturday’s post already has 3,375 views. But Google Analytics is showing only six pageviews since Saturday. Period. I trust Google more, frankly. Weird. (I did notice — through Google Analytics — that my Facebook virus post has gotten a lot of traffic in the last few days, however.)
Two thoughts. First, I’m not sure why I even have the hits counter up for public display. Does it really mean anything to you, the reader? No. The only way I can foresee it being somewhat useful is in determining the popularity of a post, but I think the number of comments is more useful for that. Could be wrong. :)
Second, Google Analytics rocks. Seriously, it’s amazing. I’ve been using it for a while now but hardly ever check in on it, but using it just now to figure out the views counter thing has opened my eyes. I’ve got to use it more often — particularly in planning out future editions of my websites. If you have a website and you aren’t using Google Analytics, it’s time for change. You won’t regret it. (And no, Google isn’t paying me to say that. ~wistful sigh~ :P)
I’ve read 19 books so far this year. Yeah, Houston, I’m in trouble. Considering how things are going I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it to 80, so I’m going to revise the goal to 50. (I guess I could always read thirty Berenstain Bears books, but that feels like cheating. ;))
The only C.S. Lewis book I’ve read that I hadn’t already read is Letters to Malcolm.
Nada on Jane Austen. But it’s not too late, since luckily she didn’t write that much. (Wait, what am I saying?!? I wish she’d written forty more books. Oh well. I wonder if she’s still writing… Do they publish books in the next life?)
I’ve decided to ditch Out of Time for now and focus on new novels instead. We’ll see if NaNoWriMo happens this year. (I have another project that takes precedence. More on that in a few weeks.)
I’ve already written five short plays this year so far, had two performed with two others in production, and directed two (not my own), so we’re good. Finally, a resolution I’ve managed to keep! Oh, wait, one full-length play. Um, haven’t done that yet. Uncheck. Drat.
No screenplay yet.
No songs yet, either.
And not a single Riverglen Press title yet either. Why am I even bothering to look at these resolutions? It’s just depressing. :P
I did redesign Top of the Mountains and am still satisfied with the look, which is good. I ended up nixing BenjaminCrowder.com. (I haven’t yet reached equilibrium with any of my sites other than Top of the Mountains, though. There’ll be a new site in the next little bit which will reincarnate the original BenjaminCrowder.com but with a new name. And I haven’t figured out all the other details, but nobody cares about those but me, so I’ll just do it when I do it and leave it at that. :))
No 3D film yet.
The daily drawing thing only lasted a week or so. It wasn’t as feasible (given my schedule and other projects) as I thought.
On and off on the one-day reply thing. Right now I’m just trying to keep my inbox below 25 emails so it all fits on one screen, because I know that as soon as something slips to the next page, it’s off the radar and I completely forget about it.
Um…still working on it, I guess?
When I think about all the time I waste and how I could be so much more productive, I want to stop sleeping. But I’ve already learned that that’s a bad idea. :)
A couple weeks ago I bought a beautiful new softcover ruled Moleskine, and wow, I love them. With this one I’ve started writing down quotes and passages — making it a commonplace book — and I’ve got a couple I recently came across and really like. (Seriously, this is a great way to come up with stuff to blog about. I just make sure I copy stuff into it as I read, and then I don’t have to go looking for it when I want to blog. It’s all there in one small, beautiful, delicious-feeling book.)
One is from an interview McKinsey Quarterly recently did with Brad Bird of Pixar. Brad said, “The first step in achieving the impossible is believing that the impossible can be achieved. You don’t play it safe — you do something that scares you, that’s at the edge of your capabilities, where you might fail. That’s what gets you up in the morning.” Mmm.
The second is from Dennis Rasmussen’s book The Lord’s Question, page 88: “Men can become unable to tell a want from a need. There are forces in this civilization that for their own profit try to create wants and keep the desire for material things at fever pitch. Always they have something new to offer. They seek to maintain in people a continual state of discontent, and utter inability to be happy.”
P.S. Sorry about the comments being whacked out on here the last few days. I made a change to the theme and it was working fine on my home computer, but when I checked it from a lab computer here on campus, all the comments on each post were conflated into a single typographic blob. It looked kind of cool but was rather hard to read. :) Anyway, it’s fixed now.
I’m tired. :) Life’s pretty busy right now with the show and all (and we’re going to try selling some scripts to see if there’s any market for them, which means I’ve been typesetting them, which does take time — although it’s quite fun). Sorry to everyone whose e-mails I haven’t been responding to. I’ll get to them soon. :) And yes, I know that the new site design is somewhat broken in Internet Explorer, and I’ll fix it next week when I get some time. (In the meantime, though, you really should be using Firefox anyway. :P)
One last thing: if you’re on a Mac, check out Fluid. Very cool. (I use it for Gmail and Facebook now. Be sure to get the nice icons.)
So, I’m doing Script Frenzy this month. I would blog about it on here, but I’m trying to move most of my writing/art/etc. posts over to Blank Slate, so you’ll have to read about it there. :) (And cross-posting every other post feels lame. :P)
Today, my friends, marks the third anniversary of Top of the Mountains. It all began with my post on Germanic languages, and the rest is history. (In the interest of accuracy, I did sort of have a blog before that, but I don’t really count it since there wasn’t an RSS feed and it was very, very minimal.)
Three years and we’re now hovering around 140 subscribed readers, plus who knows how many lurkers. Thanks for reading, everyone! And thanks to all those who’ve commented (and who will comment, for that matter ;)). This blog really is what it is largely because of y’all. I really do appreciate all of you, the ones I know and the ones I don’t. And hopefully I’ll manage to be more interesting this year than I was last year. ;)
While being sick is driving me stir crazy, it does have one big benefit: time. I’d rather be well, of course, but since I seem to be doomed to whatever fate is swirling around inside my congestive tract, may as well put this sucker to good use. So, today I finished integrating the Blank Slate blog:
What’s it about? The stuff I make — books, stories, designs, paintings, songs, web apps, everything. And it’s about creativity in general, too. From now on I won’t be posting about my own creative work on here, so if you’re interested in keeping up with that, hie on over to the new blog and subscribe. (I don’t have e-mail subscriptions set up yet but I will soon.)
And as I mentioned on Tuesday, this signals a new era of consolidation. (Isn’t it ironic that my answer to having too many blogs is to start a new one? :)) BenjaminCrowder.com and Outside the Box are now officially defunct; everything I would have written there will go to Blank Slate instead. And Beyond is pretty much dead. As far as blogs go that leaves only this blog, the Blank Slate blog, and Footprints from the Past (which is also mostly dead). Simpler is better. :)
You know, it feels kind of weird starting a new blog, especially one with a design rather different from what I’ve done in the past. It’ll grow on me, sure, but it is an odd sensation.
I thought I was getting better. Bzzzt. Last night my health rappelled down to a new depth — then the rope snapped. I don’t want to say life is miserable, though. I feel wretched, but I’m trying to keep my spirits up in spite of it all. I stayed home today and rested. Tomorrow’s LTUE, though, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that somehow I’ll feel well enough to go — even if I’m pretty much incapacitated after I get there. Good thing it runs through Saturday.
Oh, yeah, it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, too. I suppose I ought to care. I don’t. :) (But I’m not bitter. I just…don’t care.)
Last year I wrote 355 blog posts, which seemed like a lot until I went back to my 2006 New Year’s post and found that I wrote 452 in 2006. Goodness. But I do think this year’s posts were better, at least to some degree. I hope. ;)
With Riverglen Press I published only Phantastes and Beowulf: Student Edition, both way back in January, but I also designed Lorin Farr: Mormon Statesman and Niels and Christiane Christensen (two family histories), and I’m in the middle of designing books by Truman Madsen and M. Catherine Thomas.
As for the rest of life, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Language, got an exceedingly cool job at Special Collections going through all the treasures in the vaults, started my MLS (master’s of library science), and got a staff position at Special Collections processing manuscripts (which means I can check out 100 books at a time for six months each :)).
Didn’t quite get all A’s my last semester at BYU, but I did graduate.
Turns out being graduated didn’t quite give me all the free time I expected; I only read 60 books this year. And 28 of those were by the end of April — how on earth did I read more books in school than out? Sixty isn’t bad, but it’s nowhere near 100.
I wrote a whole novel, Out of Time, in November. (Finally!) And while I didn’t write a full-length play, in August I did write a 20-minute play Candle in the Darkness, and it even got produced in October.
Riverglen Press published two titles, not 10. ~sigh~
I did get a job at the library (two, actually) and not only figured out where I was going, but also started. (I’d originally planned to work for a year and then start my master’s, but life threw me a twist in the road.)
The study program didn’t happen.
My planning sort of got better, but it’s still far from perfect.
Didn’t really save money at all. And I bought 137 books in 2007.
I eat marginally better than I did last year (I usually get a salad for lunch now).
It’s hard to measure a goal like this (focusing on others and serving more). I still have much improvement waiting for me here.
I give more compliments than before, but not by much. Needs improvement.
This one’s even harder to measure. :)
And in with the new…
This year I think I’ll keep to the more quantifiable goals, since I seem to make more progress with them than with vague goals like “eat better.” I have a few more resolutions than I’ve listed here, but thirteen was just too good of a number to end on, so we’ll cap it there.
Read 80 books. I figure I may as well be realistic (though considering the trend, being perfectly realistic would mean setting a goal for 50 :P). Sure, I do have free time, but these other goals (like writing novels and plays) take up a lot of reading time, so it’s okay if I don’t read quite as many books as I’d like. It’s the whole consumption v. production balance thing.
Read all the C.S. Lewis books I haven’t yet read.
Read all the Jane Austen books I haven’t yet read.
Polish Out of Time and write another novel (as part of NaNoWriMo).
Write three short plays and one full-length play. I’m planning to do the full-length one as part of Script Frenzy in April, and the three short plays will be for the New Play Project. (I’m already almost done with the first draft of my next short, which I’ll submit to NPP in a week and a half.)
Write a full-length screenplay.
Write five songs.
Publish five Riverglen Press titles. (This’ll probably include Pride & Prejudice,Words of the Prophets: Selected Sermons from the Book of Mormon, and the Welsh Book of Mormon.)
Redesign the look of this blog (Top of the Mountains) and BenjaminCrowder.com.
Produce a short film in 3D.
Post a drawing to BenjaminCrowder.com each day in January, a painting each day in February, a 3D render each day in March/April/May (focusing on modeling, texturing, and lighting, respectively), and a logo a day in June.
Reply to all incoming correspondence within a day or two.
[Sorry about the blog being down for most of today. Bluehost migrated my sites to a new server running PHP 5, and that messed up a few things. But I think it’s all fixed now, thank heavens.]
I used to be able to live without writing. Sure, I liked it, but it wasn’t any big deal if it didn’t happen for a few days or weeks. It was something I did.
It’s not something I do anymore. It’s something I am. Over the years it has latched onto me, infiltrated my heart and soul, and now roams freely in my bloodstream. And I couldn’t get rid of it if I tried. (Mainly because trying would kill me.)
Words are my daily bread, my manna from heaven. It doesn’t really matter what I write, so long as I’m writing, etching words out on a scrap piece of paper with a half-chewed pencil, carefully inking them into my trusty Moleskine, or tapping them out on my Mac Mini (or whatever computer I can find).
You know, one of the myriad beauties of writing is that it’s so low-maintenance. Pencils? Cheap. Paper? Cheaper. And while computers don’t exactly run cheap, there are cafés that cost little and libraries that cost less. And all you need is Notepad or WordPad or TextEdit. Nothing fancy. (Drawing and singing and dancing are the same way, I should add. Isn’t it interesting how so many of life’s greatest joys are either free or so close to free it doesn’t matter? Money has very, very little to do with happiness. Comfort, yes, but that’s something else entirely. But I digress. :))
Getting back to writing, I find my head buzzes with revisions all day long. Over and over the words run through the mental mill, reshaped and reformed with each round, till they’re as smooth and shiny as I can get them. It’s almost like sculpting.
In the larger scheme of things, though, writing is more like pulling threads out of a tapestry. I pull on an end, and it’s short and ends after an inch or two. Another is the same way. Relentless, I find another loose thread, pull it, and this one runs a little longer — maybe three or four inches — but it too finds a quick and frayed demise. And then my fingers take hold of the golden thread. I pull, and pull, and pull, and a whole story, or poem, or essay comes out. Usually, even though the thread is golden, it’s still rough and has to be trimmed and dyed. But that’s part of the business; what matters is finding the right thread.
I write because it feels so good. They say that you don’t know what you think until you write it down, and while I’ve heard that enough that it ought to be stale, it’s still incredibly true. My thoughts are often vague and cloudy until I pin them down into real, solid, tangible words, materializing out of the ether. While I love talking in real life (whether face-to-face or on the phone), I think I’m probably most at home with the written word. It’s what I do best. When my real voice sounds muddied or pre-pubescently high, or when nervousness takes over and clamps my throat shut, I can still write. It’s beautiful. (No, I’ve got nothing against real life. I love the human voice. And those of you who know me in person know that it can often be fiendishly hard to get me to shut up. ;))
I’m not entirely sure why I haven’t started blogging again as frequently as before. I think it’s because of a few projects that have been pressing on my time lately, but in the past I somehow always found time for blogging even then. Anyway, I’ve got a writeup on the Orson Scott Card lecture coming soon, and no, I don’t intend to stay in this lull of hibernation. (I think the other factor is that I’ve gotten very little sleep over the past two weeks and it’s a miracle I’m not deathly ill yet.) I’ll have a real blog post tomorrow. Even as I say that, though, I’m thinking of all the things I have to get done and wondering how I’ll fit it all in. But I will. Somehow. And I’ll reply to all y’all’s comments, too. Fear not, I haven’t abandoned them. :)
Consider this a teaser trailer. One of the reasons I’ve been blogging less frequently the past couple of weeks is a writing project I’ve been working on, and while I think it’s probably safe to announce it now, I’ll wait until I hear the final ultimatum tomorrow morning.
Even beyond that, though, I’ve been really, really busy lately, which is why it’s taking me forever to reply to comments. And it’s already way past my bedtime. (Which has been a common thing these past few weeks, and which is also the reason why I keep falling asleep in meetings. :))
Hmm, WordPress marked three recent comments of y’all’s as spam, and I’m not sure why, seeing as there weren’t any links in them. They’re back up now, but until I figure out why it’s doing this, take this as a general rule: if you don’t see your comment up within a few hours (unless you posted it at night and I’m asleep :)), e-mail me and let me know so I can pull it out of the spam drain. Don’t worry, I’m not censoring anyone’s comments. :)
As a side note, I’m leaving for Vegas tomorrow to begin my master’s degree, and I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for Internet between then and Monday at midnight when I get back. (It’s an introductory seminar; the rest of my MLS is online.) If I do have time, I’ll make comment rescue operations my top priority so we don’t end up with severely disjointed threads. :)
The last time I was in Vegas was a year ago for my roommate’s wedding reception. (One of the few I’ve gone to. :)) And at the end of next month my sister’s having an open house there, after the main reception here at home. I really ought to just find a girl down there and head over to the Chapel O’ Love and end my season of singleness. Anyone know where the Vegas singles’ ward meets? :P
Top of the Mountains turns two years old today. It’s come a long way, I think, from those first baby-step posts to where we are now, with over eighty readers. Thanks, everyone! It wouldn’t be the same without you. :)
As befits a nostalgic post like this one, I thought I’d go through some of my posts over these past two years and bring ’em back to life. Not every month is represented, and some months have far more than others. Oh well. :) Here goes:
May 2005: Elder Oaks’ talk on dating. In Bookworms Anonymous I said I found it hard to make time to read. Well, since then I’m happy to report I’ve fixed the problem. If anything I’ve gone too far in the opposite direction. ;)
For those of you who don’t use a feedreader (and if you haven’t ever used one, I recommend trying Google Reader), you can now subscribe to this blog via e-mail. Just enter your e-mail address in the textbox in the sidebar (as you can see in the picture below) and hit “Subscribe.”
Voila! Thanks to Feedburner for this e-mail subscription service.
It’s funny how the stuff you write years ago can become so embarrassing. I’ve been going through Blank Slate, sweeping the dust under the (lush oriental) rug, tidying the front hallway so it doesn’t look like the shambles it’s become, and it’s almost painful to read what I wrote way back then. So…cheesy. ~sigh~ Quite embarrassing, really. Yet another reason why I really need to revamp the whole site, and soon. I’d planned on doing it over this break, but I’ve ended up spending most of my free time reading (and it’s been wonderful!), so it’ll either have to wait till midterms :) or till I graduate in April. Considering that it’s been nine months since I did much of anything with the site, April might not be such a long ways away after all.
Upon further inspection, I see that I put a link to my resume (er, résumé) on the front page, which resume happens to have my phone number and address. Maybe that’s not such a good idea… (But so far only one person has contacted me because of it, and he was trying to offer me a job. No stalkers yet. And don’t even think about it.) I wish ours was a world in which we didn’t have to worry about identity theft and all that, but it is. (Speaking of which, I have a fairly, um, extensive online presence. Someone could do a masterful job at pretending to be me, based on the online Ben corpus. But I should stop giving people ideas. ~sigh~)
Anyway, I’m going to try to pull my(web)self together and figure out what my (too many) websites’ roles should be. Here’s kind of what I have so far:
Blank Slate. My first website (since July 2000), and my only one till about two years ago. Right now it’s a hodge-podge assortment of my writing, my art, my music, my etexts, and links, all of it several years old at best. I still call it my personal website, but since I rarely update it, Top of the Mountains is the one I give out instead. Option A would be to really make it my personal website, making Top of the Mountains an LDS/Mormon-themed blog instead of my catch-all. It would then become a blog. The art will move to BenjaminCrowder.com no matter what; the writing and music would probably stay. The etexts would move to Riverglen Press. Option B would be to make this a creativity blog, turning Top of the Mountains into my real personal website (and moving the writing and music and such over there). I don’t care so much about the links anymore — especially since most of them are no doubt stale by now — and so they could go.
Top of the Mountains. My main blog. Thus far it’s been about everything except art/design, genealogy, and coding. See above for possible changes.
BenjaminCrowder.com. My art/graphic design blog. I need to move my gallery over from Blank Slate (and include my latest work).
Riverglen Press. My bookmaking venture. It’ll stay, of course, but I’ll probably move my etexts from Blank Slate to here, since it’s more fitting. Any of my graphic design work that ends up as PDF will go here as well, though I’ll probably include images in the BenjaminCrowder.com gallery.
Beyond. My genealogy software R&D blog. It’s staying the way it is.
Footprints from the Past. My own genealogy research. I see it as more of a family site, but considering that a number of other people are stumbling across it, it’s a good way to collaborate on genealogy. (Not ideal, but still good.)
Outside the Box. Considering how often I (don’t) write about coding, this blog is getting close to the guillotine. I have too many sites as it is; one more only makes things more hectic. This one will probably disappear. But I do plan on starting a library-themed blog when I start library school. Will this blogmaking never end?!? ;)
As a whole, I’ve been working on a logo for the five main sites — Top of the Mountains, BenjaminCrowder.com, Blank Slate, Riverglen Press, and Beyond — that unifies them somewhat. (Footprints from the Past is more peripheral.) I’m using hacker emblem, which is a glider from Conway’s Game of Life. (Which, incidentally, was a favorite pastime of mine when I was younger.) Here’s the general idea, with only two of the individual site logos in place (though I reserve the right to change them at will :)):
It still needs a lot of work, though.
Anyway, don’t feel bad if most of this post is tremendously boring. :)
I just finished my last paper of the semester. All that’s left is a final in my Middle English class tomorrow afternoon. And considering that the midterm took me ten minutes, I’m not too worried. :)
Here’s a hodgepodge smattering of items I’ve been meaning to blog about:
Whenever I use a photocopier and have more than one document to copy, I find myself driven to try to put the next document in before the motor dies down. If I fail, it’s almost like I’ve lost the Olympics. Okay, not really. But there is some kind of small joy when I’m fast enough to press “Start” just as the last sheet of the previous document comes out.
Lately I’ve been wearing boots because of the ice — my dress shoes have zero traction — but I’ve not exactly been a fan. The boots are heavy and give me blisters, and my socks always slip down and get all crumpled up underneath my feet as I walk. (I’m the type of person who likes his socks pulled up all the way.) But today I decided to throw caution to the wind and wear my shoes anyway. It’s still pretty slippery outside, but the penguin waddle is serving me well.
It’s interesting how “going through the temple” and “going to the temple” have different meanings to us Latter-day Saints. (The first means receiving one’s own endowment; the second means everything else.)
Speaking of the Church, I’m thinking about making Blank Slate my personal blog, and turning this one into an LDS/Mormon-themed blog. If any of you oddly happen to have an opinion about this, let me know. :)
Again speaking of the Church, I’ve run across the Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon blog a few times in the past, but it wasn’t till now that I subscribed. It’s great. I recommend reading the post on how it all got started. I’d like to do something like this, but there are admittedly few opportunities here at BYU. Smith’s is about the only place I go where I’d have a chance…
I’m taking Latin poetry next semester, and we’ll be reading Vergil’s Aeneid, so I ordered my copy online and it came a few days ago. And I’ve started reading it. Mmm, it’s good. :) (And erk, my Latin’s really rusty.)
Monday morning at 1:00 a.m., my roommate came in the room and closed the door but left the lights off. I promptly sat up, propped myself on my elbow, scrambled to find my glasses, pulled my Bible off the desk, and began “reading” Isaiah. I was half asleep, mind you, although my eyes were open. After a couple of minutes of this I realized that my roommate was still standing near the door, just standing there. “And just what do you think you’re doing?” I said in an extremely snobby voice (or at least that’s my recollection of it from my dreamlike state). “I was just trying to see if you were awake or not.” “Of course I am,” I replied, “I do this every night.” And then I put the Bible back and took off my glasses and fell asleep again. The crazy thing (well, the whole thing’s kind of crazy) is that I honestly thought I was making sense of reading, even though all I could see was the amorphous blob of a page. Add sleepreading to my repertoire.
Speaking of my roommate, something bizarre has gotten into him and he’s growing a mustache. It honestly looks like a caterpillar crawled up on his face and died there. Mustaches are so 80s. What’s with this drive to grow facial hair out whenever there’s a break from school?
Delegation is a good thing, right? So why should I feel guilty when I delegate something to a future me? ;)
For that last paper I mentioned at the beginning, I read Oscar Wilde’s play “The Importance of Being Earnest.” (Rats, do I use quotes or italics for plays? I can never remember…) It’s interesting. I haven’t read many plays lately, but I’m going to head to the library later and start, because I like ’em a lot.
I discovered Snap Preview Anywhere five minutes ago while reading TechCrunch. Go ahead, move your mouse over either of these links. See? Very cool. Ajay has a WordPress plugin that takes care of all the dirty work — it took all of one minute to set this up. I like this. :)
It’s that time of the year again. Brimful of stress, pounding headache, welcome to panic mode. :) That was a sardonic smiley-face, by the way. ~sigh~ I’ll probably still blog regularly, as it’s a nice outlet, but I can’t guarantee anything. The next two weeks will be rough riding. I can’t wait for the end. :)
Over Christmas break I’m planning on gutting and remodeling all of my websites from the ground up. Quality will increase. Life will be good. I’ve just got to survive till the end of finals…
So last week when I was trying to upgrade WordPress, I forgot to reactivate the FeedBurner plugin, which means the last handful of posts didn’t show up in the feed. Rather than re-submit them, you can just head to the website to check them out. Sorry for the inconvenience. And hopefully this post will actually go through to the feed. :) ~fingers crossed~
In other news, I stopped by Provo Library an hour ago and I’ve got to say that I heart libraries! :) Going into libraries is a semi-spiritual experience for me. It’s like finding out the girl you like likes you, in a way. (A bizarre way, I’ll add. ;)) I haven’t been to Provo Library much, but I think I’ll be hanging out there much more in the future. And I really really really can’t wait till I work in a library. I belong in libraries. It’s crazy how perfectly I fit there. A match made in heaven. And now I must return to the homework I’m trying to avoid… :)
I made a cursory attempt to upgrade to WordPress 2.0.5 earlier this morning. Failed. It would get stuck loading the front page, randomly, and so I decided to leave it as-is for now. (Though the interesting thing is that the little sparkline plugin for the stats went haywire and started pumping error messages into the logfile at about one megabyte per second. I naturally started getting worried, because it wouldn’t take long for all my server space to fill up. I removed the logfile and yet it kept growing. So, I SSHed in, ran “ps ax” to get a process list, and found seven processes (“/usr/bin/php wsparkstats.php”) still going. Killed them all and the übergrowth stopped and life is good. But I digress.)
On second thought, however, I’ve been planning on migrating to Mephisto anyway, so it would almost be a waste of time to worry about upgrading WordPress. I just need to set aside a day for pulling it all together. Why Mephisto? It’s on Rails, and it’s lightweight and nice. And let’s not forget customizability. (Which is one of the reasons I want a CMS that uses Rails instead of PHP; I’d much rather code in Ruby. :)) Mephisto has come along far enough that there really isn’t any reason not to switch.
What it does is display the full text of the first five articles, then display short 30-word excerpts for the next 20. That’s an extra 15 articles on the front page, taking up the same amount of space (probably less!).
As you may’ve noticed if you read the blog directly instead of through an aggregator, I’ve been messing around with the sidebar. It’s still way too long, though, but a thorough fix will have to wait till I redo the entire design. (And possibly switch to Mephisto.) I’m thinking of moving both the Archives and the Categories lists into dropdown boxes, which will save a ton of space. I’m debating the merits of having Contact Me, My Sites, New Bookmarks, Flickr, and LibraryThing on the sidebar — they really could go in an About Me page or something like that. Hmm… Oh, I’ve also bumped up the number of recent comments displayed to 10 (from seven).
At least now the sidebar looks the same on both Firefox and Internet Explorer, which wasn’t the case before. (IE didn’t support the special list bullets.) The new look sort of reminds me of Subtraction, though I certainly wasn’t thinking of Khoi’s site when I put this together.
Today I want to talk about change. Two cents, to be precise. Or non cents, depending on your perspective.
But really, I’m in the middle of a passionate love/hate relationship with Change. On the one hand, I loathe it, since I’m very much a creature of habit (as y’all may have noticed), and it’s nice for my snug little world to stay just the way it is. I don’t like goodbyes. (Unless we get to sing “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.” :P) Sticking with my current job is saving me from a lot of goodbyes, and life will stay roughly the same for the next school year. At least that’s the plan. :) I love my current calling (executive secretary) and would love to keep it till I get married and move out of the ward. (I’ve decided that the only thing that’ll get me to move out is marriage. I’ll probably be here a while. ;))
On the other hand, though (and you’ll have to tell me whether it’s the right or the left, or maybe even the big; the small got broken last week), I love change. I thrive on meeting new people, adapting to new situations and technologies, and carving different pathways. Change is exciting, fun, and challenging. If there’s something better out there, I’m usually all for switching. With computers, for example, I was originally a DOS/Windows guy, then I switched to Linux for eight years, and a year and a half ago I converted to Mac. And I would get bored if I never started reading new books.
I think change is one of those waves of life where it’s good and healthy to go back and forth between loving it and hating it. Of course, that in and of itself is change.
Okay, so today I guess I’m struggling to come up with something good to write about. Sorry. :) Thanks for all the comments lately, and hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to reply to most of them. Incidentally, the total number of comments exceeded the number of posts not too long ago (491 to 465 as of this post). Shall we try to hit 1000 by the end of the year? ;)
Anyway, my talk went well. Usually before public speaking or anything like unto it, my heartrate quadruples and I have to swallow a lot and I get a semi-queasy feeling. But the last few times I’ve spoken in church, I’ve felt surprisingly calm. But only in church. (Though admittedly my throat dries up about ten seconds after I start talking — I need to start requesting cups of water… :)) And I have to have a podium to hide behind. If it’s just me up there, I feel awfully vulnerable. Not that I really expect anyone to start chucking fruit at me, nor would I need to begin practicing dodging flaming arrows. (But that would be a pretty darn cool story. Someday…)
Finally, when I mentioned my Book of Mormon project to a girl at church today, she said, “Every time I talk with you I feel sooooo unproductive.” I don’t think she meant it in a bad way, but it got me thinking. I certainly hope I don’t give anyone guilt trips from reading this — on the contrary, I hope y’all can catch some of the zest and excitement and go off and do amazing things. I wish no one felt unproductive. If I inadvertently cause that, I’m sorry. (The best way to cure that is for you to go do something productive, I guess. :P) I must admit, though, that a healthy drive akin to obsessive compulsion does help out a bit. :)
That’s enough for today. I’m going up to my family’s for dinner. (Yes, real food. Mmm. :))
I’ve added the new LibraryThing search widget to my increasingly unruly sidebar. :) (One of these days I’m going to redesign my WordPress theme so the sidebar isn’t so long…)
Anyway, I have a question for y’all. When you come to the site to see what comments have been made, do you go directly to the post you’re interested in? Do you look at the Recent Comments in the sidebar? Are you subscribed to the comments feed?
I ask because the Recent Comments in the sidebar only shows the last seven comments, and when I get backlogged on replying to comments and then reply to them all at once (as I’m about to do), suddenly the whole thing fills up with me. And then it’s hard to see where the discussion’s been. At least that’s what I think; what thinketh ye?
The tentative solution I’m considering, provided that this actually is an issue (however slight :)) and not just a figment of my imagination, is to add a “More comments…” link underneath the Recent Comments in the sidebar and have that go to a comments page which lists the last 30-50 comments. Would that be useful?
While I’m at it, are there any other things that would make the blog more user-friendly? Is it easy to find what you’re looking for? If it’s not, what gets in your way? What do you consider to be the most important parts of the sidebar? Recent comments? Categories? Flickr photos? :P
I have my own ideas, of course, but I practically live in this blog, so it’d be nice to get a fresh outsider’s perspective (from both those new to the blog and those who’ve been around for a while). Thanks! :)
Apparently my post-with-a-really-long-name kind of messes up Internet Explorer’s positioning. ~sigh~ Have I mentioned how intensely IE is the bane of my existence?
Well, the easiest way to solve this is 1) don’t write posts-with-really-long-names and 2) write four more posts so this post will disappear into the dusty depths of the archives. So here come a short flurry of posts. Be prepared. :)
For those of you who comment regularly, you may want to consider registering (there’s a Register link in the Meta section of the sidebar, near the bottom). All it does is keep your username and such settings in a cookie, so that you don’t have to keep typing it all in every time you leave a comment. Hopefully that makes life just a little bit easier. (I need to make the register link more prominent, because the sidebar’s awfully long and it’s hard to tell what’s there sometimes.)
So I think I’m going to start another blog. ~gasp, shudder, sigh~ I’m not entirely sure yet, but I think it would be fitting to have a graphic design blog. It would be about graphic design (duh), web design, book design, typography, information design (graphs, charts, sparklines, etc.), Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, PDF, CSS, fonts, etc. At the moment I’m not writing about most of that, and if I do, it’s in here. And here is a tangle. :) I think grafting the art stuff onto its own blog won’t take too much away from Top of the Mountains, and it’ll then be able to blossom and grow the way it ought to. Or something like that. :)
So, I registered BenjaminCrowder.com a while ago (along with BenCrowder.com). Graphic designers often seem to use their names for their sites. Is it mere vanity? I don’t know. I could ostensibly use Blank Slate (but then I don’t know where I’d put the non-art stuff that’s currently there), or Riverglen Press (but for some reason I have some subconscious resistance to that idea, and I don’t know why).
The advantage of starting a new site is that it can house my portfolio, so that it won’t get cluttered in with the rest of Blank Slate (and I rarely update Blank Slate anyway).
Wait! I have finals! What am I doing thinking about this right now? :P
Anyway, long story short, I have too many websites. :) And I apparently really like thinking aloud. Oh well.
It’s gameshow time. Well, not really, but I do have a question for y’all. (For the uninitiated, “y’all” is the plural of “you.” As in, “you all.” Originally “you” was the plural, with “thou” as the singular, but times have changed and in the name of sameness, all y’all have become one as far as “you” is concerned. But I digress.)
From your perspective as a reader, how would you describe this blog? And you can only use one sentence. (But if you feel the need to add some explanatory notes, that’s fine.)
I’m curious to see what this tangled web I’m weaving looks like from the outside. :)
Moved the time up to the byline area (it used to be down with the categories)
Edited the Simpletags plugin to add the Technorati icon
Revised the layout for comments (in comments.php, mainly)
No more smilie icons! Hurray! :) (They were a bit obtrusive)
Got rid of the small print on the single-article view (single.php)
There are still a handful of things I need to do (like change the lists so the chevrons are replaced with discs, which I much prefer, and get the comments to not be indented in Internet Explorer, and add a blogroll, and get the unwieldy sidebar under control, and add a “recent comments” page with the last 30 or so comments listed, and so on). And I need to fix the comments display in the byline so it doesn’t count trackbacks. ~sigh~
But those changes will have to wait, at least for a few more days. I’m pleased with the new look, though. It’s cleaner.
For those of you who come to the blog site itself (rather than reading it via a feed), you may have noticed a few slight hiccups this afternoon with the visual layout. I wasn’t quite satisfied with the way the footer stuff (time posted, categories, comments) was crowded and wasn’t vertically aligned, so I’ve moved the comments up to the top of each post and set it as bold so it stands out more (and I think you’ll agree that it looks a lot better). I’ve also modified the headline font (Myriad Pro if you have it on your system, otherwise Times New Roman). At the moment I’m experimenting with a few other things, but my FTP server got dreadfully slow a couple minutes ago, so it may have to wait till later.
Update: Looks like IE has reverted to its old behavior of putting the content after the sidebar. ~sigh~ I hate IE. Please use Firefox. Anyway, I’ll try to fix it soon. ~bigger sigh~
Second update: Turns out it was because the divider div was <div class="divider" /> instead of <div class="divider"> </div>. Guess that makes a difference. :)
Living a double life ain’t easy. So, this morning I’m issuing a press release, concerning the merger of Top of the Mountains and Bookland. Bookland’s assets will be managed by ToTM and current shareholders will continue to keep their bonds as specified in their original contract.
Hmm, I obviously don’t have much experience writing business-related PRs, do I. :) Wait, let me make it really clear that I’m talking about my blog Bookland, not Bookland EAN/ISBN barcodes. Or anything else named Bookland. Turns out it’s not an uncommon name (go figure). By the way, that website I just linked to has a handful of free Python scripts at the bottom that take an ISBN number and generate barcodes for you in EPS or JPG. Very handy.
Why the change? I often find that I want to post here about things I’ve read in books, but I feel obligated to write about them in Bookland instead because it’s, well, about books. At the moment there’s hardly anyone reading it, and books are an integral part of who I am, so it just makes more sense to consolidate. (Outside the Box will remain a separate and distinct colony, however.) Rather than moving all the posts over, which would be madness to say the least, I’ll leave Bookland as it is, a relic left to gather dust and moss in the humid rainforest of the Internet.
The only possibly “disadvantage” I can think of is that the category list is going to get kind of long (the categories on Bookland right now include Audiobooks, Bookland, Bookmaking, Books, C.S. Lewis, Classics, eBooks, G.K. Chesterton, George MacDonald, Imagination, Languages, Libraries, LibraryThing, Movies, Poetry, Project Gutenberg, Riverglen Press, Theatre, and Typography). That would be a grand total of 44 categories. Very long list. Not good. I wonder how many people even use the category list… (I suppose I could just look at my stats to find out.) What I may end up doing is create a Category page and then link to that from the sidebar. It’d shorten the sidebar a lot and I wouldn’t have to worry so much about space limitations. Hmm…
Well, I guess this is it, Bookland. ~sniffle~ Take care of yourself, ‘kay? Remember who you are. I’ll never forget you. ~sob~
Wait, that’s the wrong attitude. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, Bookland, and welcome to the top of the mountains. (Sometimes I think I have too much fun with these blogs. ;))
P.S. Since “TotM” is the abbreviation for this blog, I may start referring to it as “Totem.” Granted, there’s not a whole lot of Native American connection here, but we’ll see… :)
No, the Greek warrior actually has nothing to say. But I have added
Ajax commenting to Top of the Mountains, so that your comment will appear on the page without having to reload. Pretty cool. As I learn Ajax, I’ll be thinking of ways to make the blog-reading experience better for you, and hopefully some cool stuff will come out of it. (And if not, oh well. :))
Remember not too long ago when there were seven posts in one day? That’s probably going to happen again soon. I keep a to-do list of post topics in my Backpack account, and yesterday there were fifteen topics I still haven’t written about yet. And this morning alone I came up with five new ones. At this rate I’m wondering if there will ever be a topic drought again. :) Anyway, it’s better to update too frequently than too rarely, right?
As for the artwork in the upper righthand corner in most of the latest posts, yes, I’ll continue with that tradition. But not all the time — if I’m rushed for time or can’t think of a good image to use, I’ll just stick with good ol’ plain text.
Wait a sec. Sorry, Maria, but that just isn’t me. Except for the raindrops part — I do love rain. Anyway, I thought I’d list my favorite things. (The reason for this string of posts, by the way, is that I’ve got a running list of posts to write, and if I don’t get caught up on them soon they’ll go stale.)
Drum roll please… In no particular order, then:
Wind; rain; morning air; beauty (in everything, not just in girls :)); loyalty to a cause; love; friendship; kindness; selflessness; families; thick grass; adventure; discovery; good writing; curling up with a good book in front of a toasty fire; Britain; British accents; fog/mist; learning something new; solving a hard math problem; little kids; well-done typography; understanding something in another language; finishing a project; blogging (go figure); a glass of cold water; almonds, pistachios, and cashews; Thai food; faithfulness (to the Lord); standing up for what’s right; music that gives me goosebumps or makes me cry; movies that make me want to be a better person; conquering challenges; smiles; getting a package in the mail; doing something nice for someone else without them knowing about it; the gospel of Jesus Christ; typing fast; maps; good hair days; belting Broadway tunes out in the shower.
I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but not having a laptop is kind of nice. Not only is my backpack lighter, but I no longer have to worry about setting it down too hard. And if it got stolen now, it wouldn’t matter to me nearly as much as it would have were my laptop in it. Shortly after I bought my camcorder I started worrying about it getting stolen or broken. Maybe I’m a worrywart. Probably not. Regardless, however, the more stuff you have, the more you have to take care of.
It’s an inner battle. Part of me wants more cool gadgets — it comes with being a geek, I think :) — and that’s why I have an iPod, a laptop, a graphics tablet, and a camcorder. And yet another part of me yearns for simplicity. That part of me is gaining ground and respect, primarily because it feels right and good, like a cold drink of water on a blistering summer day at noon.
Besides, materialism is generally bad. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that things matter, but they don’t. Kindness matters. Peace matters. Love matters. Sacrifice matters. Possessions don’t. The further detached I get from my belongings, the better I feel, the more at-one with goodness. If I care more about my computer than I do about my family or my friends, something’s wrong. Seriously wrong.
But there are of course belongings that matter: journals, family pictures and scrapbooks, writings and paintings and other creative efforts, and other things that come from within us. Those do matter. But the SUV outside, the nice new drapes for the windows, the 90” entertainment center with full surround sound — when all is said and done, they’re not going to make a whit of difference. Yes, things are nice, and I’m certainly not arguing that we should all drop to a third-world standard of living, but it’s all too easy to make them become our object of existence.
I honestly envy those who can pack their whole life into a backpack or two. Really.
Just out of curiosity, what kinds of things do you come here to read? Or rather, which subjects are you most interested in? A mostly silent audience makes it hard to judge what’s worth writing and what’s not. (Of course I have my own ideas on that, which is the reason I write this blog, but I’d like to see what you think.) Any ideas for improvement? Any things you particularly like? Shorter posts? Longer posts? Less humor, more starch? More detail? Less philosophizing? More original material? More what’s-going-on-in-the-world?
Note that this doesn’t mean I’m selling out or striving for the praise of the world or anything like that. But it’s nice to have an idea what y’all find interesting.
Now, I’ve figured out that the best way to elicit comments is to say something controversial. Um, let’s see… How about this: historical and astronomical evidence has proven that seven billion years ago a huge comet crashed into Jupiter, flinging debris away millions of miles away, and a strange magnetic field emanating from Pluto froze the debris into Earth, Mars, and the asteroid belt.
Okay, maybe not. :)
Well, anyway, I do want to hear what you think. (By the way, this science fiction stuff is kind of fun… ;))
Today I was thinking (hmm, it feels like I always start posts with “I was thinking”), and the happiest times in my life have been when I’m doing something for someone else without thinking about what I’m getting in return. And if I’m sacrificing (if it’s inconvenient, or a lot of work, or whatever), that’s like icing on the cake. No, I’m not being sarcastic. Being nice to other people is fun. It makes life so much more fulfilling, so much more meaningful. That’s one of the reasons I try to steer clear of commercial ventures — I’d rather do stuff for free than for money, because I’m happier. (Before I get a bunch of requests for help developing websites for free, though, let me say that I’m pretty busy and it’s unlikely that I’ll be adding any new projects on, at least not until I get Beyond up and going.) In fact, Beyond is a good example: it’s a project I’m working on solely because I want to make genealogy easier for people to use. I’m not selling it, because I’m not in it for the money. Money doesn’t matter to me. Happiness does. Friendship does. Selflessness does. Ah, life is good. :) And I need to get to bed soon…
I’ve decided to retire Digital Bridge. I’ll leave it as is, but from now on any of the posts that would’ve gone there will end up here instead. (I wasn’t writing all that much on it anyway.) One less website to maintain = more happiness for me. :)
Speaking of sites, I spent some time today switching the file encoding on Blank Slate to Unicode. (I thought it already was Unicode, but most of the files weren’t.) I’m going to install WordPress on Blank Slate so I don’t have to update the site news page by hand — WordPress is a much nicer way to do that, and it’ll make me want to work on the site more. :) I’m also going to figure out just what I want Blank Slate to be. Still haven’t a clue, really. I don’t want it to focus solely on me — that’s boring. It’s got to be useful. And having scads of links just doesn’t cut it for me…
I really thought spring was here. After all the flipping back and forth between days of sunshine and days of snow, I was convinced that we’d finally made it through my least favorite season. I was wrong. It’s snowing! Wait, let me try that again: It’s snowing!?!?!?! Yesterday we got some lovely wind and rain, and it felt sooooo good. This morning was colder, and it rained, and I guess cold + rain = snow. This wasn’t supposed to happen! ~sigh~ If it isn’t obvious, I’m not a big fan of winter. Spring, summer, and fall are all fine, but spending two years in Thailand pretty much killed all my winter taste buds. Time to move to a warmer climate… :)
Well, the Apple hardware buyer for the BYU Bookstore said this about my laptop:
I expect that the video card is part of the main logic board on this computer. In such a case the main logic board will have to be replaced. This is not generally an inexpensive part. I have not done repair service for a long time, but I would expect the repair to run more than $200 and maybe as much as $500.
So it looks like I’ll probably have to wait on that until mid-summer, because I’ve got some credit card debt I have to pay off, not to mention the $400 or so in tuition I’ll owe for spring term come May. ~sigh~