Sidebar fun

I’ve added a few things to my sidebar! Webcomics came first, after obvious things like archives and search. Today I  made a cute Welcome box that explains what I write about and includes a picture of me.

I also added a random assortment of my latest photos from SmugMug and a list of the most recently updated SmugMug galleries. This way, I can avoid blog posts that are nothing but one or two pictures. I always felt that picture posts detracted from my writing, but I was never sure how to solve the problem. With WordPress plugins it was quite simple to place my pictures in the sidebar.

Similarly, there was no easy way to incorporate an RSS feed into my FTP-published Blogger blog. Now all I have to do is drag a box to the right and add a link…so I’ve put a list of my latest blog posts on SparkPeople on the sidebar.

Back in the day I would post whatever came to mind here on pixelscribbles, because I wanted this blog to be wholly representative of who I am. I feel a little like I’m compartmentalizing my thoughts about health and fitness by putting them over on SparkPeople. But I don’t want pixelscribbles to turn into a weight loss blog. I don’t feel that health, fitness, and weight loss are “who I am” in any respect. Yes, I want those things, but I don’t want to become some sort of guru. I don’t want people to know me for those things. I just want to lose weight and feel better so I have the energy to concentrate on the things I truly enjoy–“writing, photography, travel, language, Japan, and the web”, as it says in the Welcome box ;>

Writing about my weight loss “journey” (as they say) has been helping me, though, and I want to keep it up. Plus, I adore feedback. So I’ve decided to actively blog about the process on SparkPeople. Hopefully the sidebar listing here will earn my thoughts some eyeballs and comments.

I may add more items to the sidebar–I haven’t addressed the issue of my blogroll yet, for example. But for now I think it’s shaped up pretty well.

Changes are coming to pixelscribbles

On May 1, Blogger will no longer support publishing to FTP, which is how I currently publish this blog. Sometime before then–hopefully this weekend–I will be migrating either to Blogger’s hosted solution or to WordPress.

I’ve thought about shifting to a different platform for years. The reason I’ve stayed with FTP publishing for so long is that I felt comfortable and safe with two copies of my blog in existence: one in Blogger’s database and one in static html files on my server. With this duplication of my content, essentially an automatic backup, I was confident that I’d never lose my posts. That made me reticent to change blog software.

Now that my hand is being forced, I’m leaning towards self-hosting. Frankly, I trust my webhost, pair, more than I trust Blogger’s servers. This may be a misguided view, but in the eight or so years I’ve used both services, I’ve only ever had problems with Blogger.

The main uncertainty in my mind at this point is WordPress. I’ve seen so many WordPress blogs get hacked and wonderful content get destroyed, notably the several times it happened to Sushicam. If, after losing all my offline writing and photos in the fire, I lost all of this too, I would be completely decimated. I do not want to go through that feeling again. I want to continue to be able to travel back in time through my writing and remember what I used to think about and how I used to feel. This blog is really all I’ve got left of my life before August 2005. I can’t lose it.

Obviously, I’m still thinking about what I want to do. But a decision will come soon, and then my blog will move. When that happens, the design will probably change.

I’ve also made a change to my photo posting recently. For awhile there I was emailing photos from my phone directly to this blog, to quickly and easily share what was going on. However, I was never really a fan of doing things this way. For starters, it saved the photos here on my server instead of on my photo site. For another, having a bunch of posts with nothing but one or two photos in them took up a lot of space and pushed text content–my thoughts, the real purpose of this blog–down the page.

So I’ve started using SmugShot again, the SmugMug application for iPhone. Now I simply send the photos I take directly to the proper album on my photo site. So far I’ve sent photos to February 2010 and March 2010.

When I switch my blog to whatever I switch it to, I plan to pull my latest SmugMug photos into the sidebar, so blog visitors will know I’ve uploaded new photos without having to scroll past them to get to my real content. I’m pretty happy with this solution and look forward to implementing it.

Once all these changes are in place, I plan to really get back into writing here. I miss it.

Translation Exercise: "Analog Blog"

I was catching up on a few RSS feeds, and I happened to read an interesting entry on Digital Camera Sketch (デジカメスケッチ), “a report on the ordinary using a digital camera”. Normally I use the Rikaichan Firefox plugin to get the gist of these posts and then move on, but today I felt like trying to write up a translation of this post, titled “Analog Blog”.

Here’s my translation:

Awhile back, this project was going on in the Nipponbashi area of Osaka. Pictures were taken with digital cameras, brought here, printed on the spot and pasted up together with comments. Incidentally, mine is the one on the right, the photo of the streetcar in the Nipponbashi shopping district.

Click here to see the original post and a photo. The “analog blog” in question has the title “Den-Den Town Bit by Bit Blog”. The post refers to a place in Osaka called Nipponbashi; click here for more information on that area.

Please note: I am not a professional translator, nor am I fluent in Japanese! This was just for practice. If you see any problems, let me know. I was unclear, for example, if he meant he took two photos or just one. Also, it seems like he used the wrong kanji in 商店会; I assumed he meant 商店街.

New email subscription setup

Up until recently I had been using Yahoo! Groups to provide a mailing list for my blog posts. However, I’ve been wanting to burn my RSS feed with FeedBurner for quite some time, and I finally did that the other day. FeedBurner also offers an email subscription service, so I decided to use that instead of Yahoo! Groups.

Anyone who may have been subscribed to my Yahoo! Groups email updates will need to resubscribe via the new “subscribe via email” form in the sidebar. (I think there were two people signed up. Sorry for the inconvenience, guys! ;>)

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I’ve been trying out various moblogging methods in the past week. I loved that during my vacation I could snap a photo and send it online instantly via Blogger’s email post feature. That feature remains my favorite way to get pictures and text online from my phone. I can do it from the phone’s camera without installing any extra applications, and the post appears as the latest item on my blog, where people will notice it.

However, that last pro is also a con. If I send a lot of pictures, they push my regular posts off the front page very quickly. If I continue to use this method, I will need to change my blog template somehow to deal with this problem, or create a secondary blog just for moblogging and pull it into this template.

I also don’t like the fact that the pictures are stored on Blogger and not my SmugMug. I’d really prefer all my pictures to be in the same place. I installed SmugShot on my phone to see if it would work for me, but I ultimately don’t like it very much. The application doesn’t remember that I want my mobile photos to go into an album called “Moblog” and not their default “SmugShot”; I have to change the album every time I open the app. I also have it set to auto-tag my photos, but it doesn’t do it. Plus, posting this way doesn’t get the picture automatically on my blog. I tried installing a Flash slideshow of my moblog pictures, but it’s not really the same. It’s the kind of widget most people ignore when they’re visiting a site. Plus, I can only caption the photos, not title and caption like I can with Blogger.

My ideal solution would be something that would automatically save the photo to SmugMug, then create a post on Blogger that incorporates the SmugMug photo and whatever text I’ve put in the email, with the title of the email being the title of the post. Further, I’d love to be able to take a bunch of photos, caption each, and then send them as a bulk blog post, to keep the mass of pictures from driving other posts off my front page. That last would require an application, I imagine, since the iPhone can only send one picture at a time, and can’t do email attachments otherwise.

It’s possible some sort of solution exists for different blog software; I’m open to that too. I love Blogger, but since I publish via FTP I can’t use a lot of its features…and to be honest I trust my host (pair) a lot more than I trust Blogger’s servers (no offense), so I’m not going to shift my blog to Blogspot. I’ve toyed with the idea of using WordPress. I’ve also thought about Movable Type; pair lets you add it to your account for a nominal fee per month.

I guess I’ll keep looking until I find a solution that makes sense for me. Suggestions are welcome!

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Comment moderation

I hate to do it, but a round of World of Warcraft farming spam has left me with no choice.

I’ve enabled comment moderation.

This means, unfortunately, that your comments will have to wait for me to approve them before they appear on the site.

I’ve always enjoyed the immediacy of feedback here. I really hate to lose that. But I will not allow my blog to become some jerk’s advertising pipeline.

If you see any spam comments anywhere, please let me know so I can delete them.

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To V

I want to read whatever you have to say, so I hope you keep blogging. Not because I’m looking for guidance or for something to make fun of, but because I find you interesting. I hope that’s reason enough for you to continue.

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It’s a tragedy

Grieving Fan: Oh man! I remember exactly where I was the second I found out Heath Ledger died…

V: Fag.

I just want to know if they’re going to show The Dark Knight with Ledger, or recast him, or what. (I’m actually a little afraid to see that movie…looks like it’s going to be really dark)

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I found a new blog

Damon Cline writes a blog called Scuttlebiz about area businesses and the economy and such for the Augusta Chronicle. He usually focuses on one story and then ends the post with a few nuggets. This cracked me up:

I’ll bet my left index finger (you can’t have the right; it’s my trigger finger) that Loco’s Grill and Pub, the casual dining chain that closed last week after two years in operation, will be converted into Augusta’s 213th Mexican restaurant. Mexican is the new Chinese.

Maybe you have to be a local to realize that this is hilarious because it’s true? When Mom visited I took her to Acapulco’s, the restaurant that replaced Fazoli’s on Washington Road. They had a few microwaved Italian and “American” options, and were otherwise very much a Mexican restaurant, down to the free chips and salsa.

Damon’s sharp and funny and seems to know his Augusta. Blogrolled!

(Edit: Apparently Acapulco’s has closed, after about a two month run. Heh.)

Words of wisdom from Sushicam

I haven’t read many of my Bloglines subscriptions in the past year or so. Working in news, I’ve either found the thought of reading online tiresome or overwhelming every time I’ve tried to catch up. Today I’ve got some free moments while I wait for DVDs to burn, so I’ve been working through some of my Japan blogs. I’m currently plowing through Sushicam, and this post of Jeff’s seemed like it was written just for me:

Did you enjoy yourself today?

I mean really, REALLY enjoy yourself?

I shudder to think what the most common answer would be if we were all to honestly answer this most simple of questions each night before drifting off to sleep.

Barring any serious illness, unemployment issues, or family tragedies, probably the greatest reason that a person is not enjoying their life is because they are not taking the time to take care of themselves. And what better way to find happiness in life than to take the time to do something that really means something to you.
Slow down.

Get a hobby.

Have a purpose

Do something meaningful with your time.

And while everyone has a different interpretation of what has meaning, each and everyone of us should be doing something each day that is just for us. Something we enjoy, and not something you either feel obligated to do, or something that you get paid to do.


So maybe it’s not my circumstances that are making me unhappy.

Maybe it’s just that I’m not doing anything fun.

I’ve been thinking of that as a circumstance…but don’t I have the power to do what I want, if I really try? Even if I have to work around Sean’s schedule and my work schedule, isn’t there a way to pursue my hobbies?

It feels like it’s been so long since I’ve explored.

I need to get out and enjoy myself. I need to take care of me.

I’m sure this has been painfully obvious to all of you, and I thank you for your patience in dealing with my whiny posts for the past however long it’s been. These emotional epiphanies never seem to come easily, even when they’re this simple.

Wasting my 3000th post

Last night, I dreamed that spiders were mutating into much larger creatures and taking over human spaces. They could move freakishly fast, but they also died quickly and their corpses were everywhere. There were two characters in the dream, a detective-ish guy and a beautiful female journalist who both seemed to have stepped out of a black and white movie, and they were trying to figure out how to reclaim the world. The woman was apparently in trouble for doing a story about the spiders. The man started discussing the economic impact of spiders forcing people out of their homes and workplaces.

“Migration was pretty stable,” he said, “until the teapot went into mass production in the 1930’s.” And then I visualized a line of giant, colorful teapots that stretched across the horizon, kicking up dust as they advanced.

“The Dust Bowl,” I said knowingly.

As the two tried to figure out what to do about the spiders and their own issues, they of course fell in love. At some point Brooke was there, and we were both trying to take photos of a girl posing for some reason, and I was complaining that I needed a camera with a faster shutter.

Meanwhile, I was so distraught over what in the world to do about the spider problem that I started a blog post about it, with the title you see above.

Obviously I haven’t been blogging in a few days, and now you know why–it’s number 3000, and I wanted it to be awesome.

This has happened before, where I haven’t posted because I wanted to write something “important”, and each time I wound up unhappy because I wasn’t posting. You know what? I like spouting my drivel. I wish I didn’t care that I will never have a huge audience, but despite my desire for fame and glory I’m unwilling to stop doing what I’m doing…which is chronicling my life in a way that is fun for me.

So here, internet: here’s a 3000th post typical of Heather Aubrey Meadows, with a dream and some indulgent self-analysis.

3000 posts is a big milestone. This blog has been around for awhile. It’s obviously not the oldest blog in existence, but I am proud that I’ve kept it up. So many other blogs die out, with their authors either disappearing or starting a brand new blog, essentially denying everything they’ve previously written. I’m happy to have left my 3000 posts right where they are, on the same server, my faults and foibles and naive opinions of the past (and present!) archived forever for all to see, for so many years. And I intend to keep it up. I’m the main character of my life, after all. This is character development!

So, sorry to everyone who I told about this post and how I wanted it to be awesome. It is what it is: an affirmation of what has come before, and not a digression.

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Rockin’ Girl Bloggers

Brooke has, for some unknown reason, named me a Rockin’ Girl Blogger.

As I draw close to my 3000th post and wonder what exactly it is I’m doing here, it makes me feel good that someone out there has a use for it all.

The thing to do here, as I understand it, is to pay it forward and name five Rocking Girl Bloggers of my own. Brooke also didn’t do any repeats, meaning I shouldn’t use her or anyone on her list.

So, with those guidelines in place, here are five girl bloggers I think are awesome.

V, of Violent Acres: I am consistently impressed and intrigued by this woman. She has no problem telling it exactly how it is, and her essays are often a much-needed jolt of common sense in this crazy “how can I be a victim today?” world. There are things she’s said that I disagree with, and there are times that I wonder if she’s really okay or not, but ultimately I find her posts refreshing and enlightening, sometimes touching and sometimes funny. She’s brutally honest about some things that you need to be anonymous to be brutally honest about, and I can respect that. And she’s smart, and she’s taking care of herself instead of expecting someone else to do it. That last is one of the hardest things in life; despite my own independent spirit, I struggle with it daily.

Merujo, of Church of the Big Sky: One of the funniest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting online, and certainly one of the best writers, Merujo inspires me with her fierce refusal to let life trample all over her. It knocks her down, repeatedly, especially lately, but what does she do? She gets right back up, usually with a snarky comment or two. But I was her fan before her current predicament–I like her style, I like her outlook on life, I like that she is so nonchalant about all the amazing things she does. Confident but never proud, Merujo is a model that any woman would be wise to aspire to.

Marie Mutsuki Mockett: Marie is a professional writer who blogs at her own space and on Japundit, which is where we met. I love her because she thinks like me, like an anthropologist. She’s aware that there are often numerous reasons for why things are the way they are, and she’s interested in exploring them all. Her specific interest in Japan, due to being part Japanese and growing up visiting Japan frequently, makes her writing extremely relevant to me, but anyone can write about Japan. Writing about it thoughtfully and objectively while adding personal perceptions and emotions is why I keep going back to Marie’s blog. She takes in as many resources as she can, she evaluates the facts fairly, but she also explores what it all means, both to who she is and to society. It’s that sort of critical analysis paired with emotional insight that draws me to a writer.

Sunshine, of Days of My Life: A teenager living in Mosul, Iraq, Sunshine has to fight to enjoy the things most of us in the US take for granted. She can’t go into her bedroom now because it has large windows that face the street. When school starts again, she will be in danger of terrorist attacks–or friendly fire from coalition soldiers!–en route to her classroom building. She can’t go anywhere or do anything and is essentially a prisoner in her own home, studying as best she can, reading ravenously, making handicrafts, and taking care of her younger siblings. But this is a girl who knows that if she gives in to her fear and depression, then she has already lost. This is a girl who steps out into her war-torn world with a smile on her face. Read this post for an example of what Sunshine lives through and how she has decided to live through it. If Sunshine is Iraq’s future, then despite the helplessness and despair I feel with every news story about the war, I can still have hope. She’s not just the pillar of support for her family…she’s supporting her entire country, her entire world.

Mama, of Emotions: Where Sunshine tries to keep positive on her blog, her mother offers full-on, visceral reactions–which is probably why she doesn’t post very often. There are no punches pulled at Emotions. This is a young mother who is hurting. Her country is a mess, her children can’t go to school without being in danger of being shot or blown up, she sometimes can’t get to her place of work as a dentist, and when she can she doesn’t have the proper equipment. She has so little control over her situation. This is a true victim; this is a person who can’t simply pull herself up by the bootstraps. And she tells us so. Look at what’s happening, she says. Feel my pain. Something needs to be done. Her message is the message that people need to hear–without spin, without remorse. Because despite it all, she is determined to live. And she deserves to live free of fear.

This Rockin’ Girl Blogger thing is everywhere. Just tracing back through my nomination at Brooke’s blog to her nomination and the nomination of the person who nominated her, I’ve found fifty gazillion girl blogs. I’m having trouble determining where it all started, but regardless, it seems like a really good way to expand your reading material, if you should have a need for that. *eyes her ever-expanding sidebar*

Look, I’m on the new Blogger!

And you can’t tell!

That’s because I have a custom template that doesn’t include any of the new Blogger stuff.

At some point I’ll have to fix that…

Edit: Oh dear god look what they do with the post labels! Yes, definitely need to do something about that…