Tag Archives: blogging


13177225_10209876533258692_7768388631242626952_nOh, hi. I seem to blog here about once a year lately. And yes, I have a few things to say again — but it’s going to take me more than a few minutes to write them, and I can’t decide where to put them. You see, I literally have 15 blogs registered to me. Yes, I may have been a blog-a-holic at one point. A few of them are my kids’ old blogs. One is a shared book blog that my sisters and I did for a little while. This one is more or less my main blog, and it used to be focused on technology and sustainable living. I also have one for religious posts and one for political posts and one for posts about my neighborhood and a couple for Girl Scouts. And one is my OLD main blog before I registered this domain name. Oh, and I manage my school’s website which is also a WordPress site.

So now what? I’m thinking about getting rid of this domain…it’s never really made me any money; instead it costs me a monthly hosting fee and an annual domain registration fee. I can put it all back on WordPress.com for free

But meanwhile, I’ve got things to say. So I’ll probably just put them here, even though they are religious and political in nature, because I don’t really see the point in splitting it all up any more.

See you around!

Technology: Learning By Doing

I learn a lot by reading. I’d say it’s my preferred method for learning most things. I don’t like watching information-packed videos; I can read faster and absorb it better. I fall asleep during lectures. My attention wanders when listening to something being read aloud.

But most of what I’ve learned about using technology, I’ve actually learned by doing. Something doesn’t look right on my computer? I open up the settings and start playing around with them.  And I mess up all the time, but that’s part of the learning experience. I learn what doesn’t work along with what does.

Right now, I’m learning about the Postalicious plugin. What’s a plugin? It’s a piece of code that helps WordPress do something specific that you want it to do. It’s one of the great things about WordPress — if there’s something you wish WordPress could do, you can write and/or install a plugin to make it do that.

I don’t write plugins. I just use them. Postalicious is a plugin that takes your bookmarks from other sites (like Delicious) and automatically pulls them into blog posts. I installed it the other day, and made sure I added some bookmarks to be posted, but then nothing happened! I quickly realized I had the Feed URL wrong, and fixed that. And then later I realized that I had never updated my blog to Daylight Savings Time, which meant Postalicious was using the wrong time, too, so I fixed that.

And then the automatic post finally happened! But it was kind of ugly. The title included both the date and from/to times, which I really don’t need. And the format, once I got to see it, clearly leaves space for a description of each link, which I hadn’t bothered to enter, so the entries looked weird.

But never fear, I’ve tweaked that now, too! I edited the Post Title settings to say what I want to say, and tweaked the Post Template while I was at it. And I’ve started adding descriptions when I add links to Delicious, so those should show up in the next post as well.

Many people recommend trying out things like this in a test environment, rather than on a live site. I don’t mind learning in public, though. I think it’s good to share these experiences — and hopefully you can learn from them, too!

Proctor & Gambling

You could call me a mommy blogger. After all, I did put Mama in the name of my blog. But I don’t do some of the things many mommy bloggers do. For instance, I generally don’t do product promotions and giveaways on this blog. I’ve considered it, but most of the time, the promotions offered by the companies are for things I simply don’t use, or even that I would feel uncomfortable using.

I’m also not really into buying Stuff, or promoting the buying of Stuff. I’m more likely to buy used, buy local, make my own, etc.

However, when BlogHer offered me a Proctor & Gamble promotion, I decided to give it a try. They sent me a $25 Kroger gift card, with which I was to buy any four Proctor & Gamble products, and then write about the experience as a comment on a BlogHer post.

Proctor & Gamble makes a lot of different products. I figured I could find something useful to buy. Actually, what I thought was “Proctor & Gamble must have some ‘green’ products — I can buy those and report back on my blog!”

So I signed up for the promotion, and meanwhile went to the Proctor & Gamble website to see what “green” products they had available.

And the answer is? They don’t. While many companies have developed “green” product lines in recent years, Proctor & Gamble says that instead they have been working on “greening” their overall operations. Here’s their overall sustainability vision:

As part of our strategy to grow responsibly, we will work toward a long-term environmental sustainability vision that includes:

    • Powering our plants with 100% renewable energy
    • Using 100% renewable or recycled materials for all products and packaging
    • Having zero consumer and manufacturing waste go to landfills
    • Designing products that delight consumers while maximizing our conservation of resources

I’m actually intrigued by this. Could this actually be more effective than “greenwashing” by developing a so-called “green” product line? Or is it just another form of “greenwashing?”

Proctor & Gamble acknowledges that this is a very long-term vision, which may take decades to reach. But according to their own statistics, they have made progress — for instance, they claim that 30% of their plants are now powered by renewable energy.  They also claim to have reduced energy usage at their plants by 50% since 2002, and to have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 53%. And GreenBiz.com points out other areas in which Proctor & Gamble is walking the green talk.

Now, there’s also the issue of whether Proctor & Gamble products contain chemicals that could be harmful to humans and/or animals. There’s a lot of information on the company website about this, too. Basically, they say that they work hard and do the science to make sure their products are safe to use, even if they do contain unpronounceable chemicals. And they have a last-resort policy on animal testing — they use other methods like computer modeling first.  And I’m not totally against chemicals; I think they have their place. Which brings me to my actual purchases!

I ended up buying Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Bath Scrubbers, because our bathtub needs help. I prefer more natural products (and re-usable cloths) for everyday cleaning, but sometimes you need a chemical intervention. I also got a roll of Bounty Basic paper towels; we don’t use paper towels on an everyday basis, but we do need them for things like sopping up bacon grease.  And I got a package of Duracell batteries and a bottle of Pantene shampoo/conditioner for curly hair.

I didn’t buy the Mr. Clean all-purpose cleaner, even though we needed some, because I couldn’t remember what sodium hydroxide was (it’s just lye, d’oh!). I actually picked up a concentrated cleaner from the natural foods aisle which I can dilute to make ELEVEN bottles of all-purpose cleaner. I often just use vinegar and water, but my husband likes to have something more official around. And the concentrate only cost $5.99.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the experience. I didn’t buy anything we don’t ordinarily use (yes, even the bathtub scrubber; I’m OK with occasional interventions like this), I got free products, and I don’t feel dirty about it.

By the way, BlogHer is giving away more $25 Kroger gift cards; to enter the drawing, just comment on their blog post about this promotion.

Disclaimer: Yes, as you’ve already noted, I did receive a free $25 Kroger gift card as part of this promotion. I wasn’t required to write this blog post in exchange, but I did anyway because I found the experience interesting)

Blogging Elsewhere, 2/28/10

In case you didn’t know, yes, I do blog elsewhere from time to time! Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been doing lately.

On What’s the Mission, I post spiritual reflections and book reviews (I belong to a great program called Viral Bloggers in which I get free books!).  Latest reviews include Picking Dandelions by Sarah Cunningham, Thy Kingdom Connected by Dwight J. Friesen, and A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren.

Six Boxes of Books was started by my sister Wendy (who once read all of the Newbery Award winners), and has expanded to include all three Burton sisters. We mostly write about children’s and young adult books. Some posts are reviews and some cover other book-related topics, like school book orders.

ParkroseGateway.com is a local news site/blog that I started for the neighborhood in which I live. It runs on the Neighborlogs platform.  I write about local schools, community events, sports, crime, businesses, or whatever I see that is interesting. Neighbors are invited to post, too. My most recent post is a roundup of coverage on the Aaron Campbell shooting, which occurred not far from here.

You can also find me on Twitter and Facebook pretty much every day.

Bits of Tech: Google Reader Shared Items

This is the second installment of an occasional series on the various bits of technology I use in this blog.

Welcome!  You’re here!  That means you read blogs (well, I’m assuming you read more than just this one).  If you read blogs, an RSS reader is a handy tool.  If you already know about RSS readers, you may want to skip the following two paragraphs.

RSS readers, like Google Reader, allow you to0 pull feeds from various blogs and read them in a central location.  You subscribe to the blogs you want to read, and the latest posts automatically show up in your RSS reader.  You can just read them there, or you can click through to the actual site and leave a comment.  In some cases, only part of the post will show up in your reader and you’ll have to click through if you want to read the whole post (I don’t like that, but whatever).

In order to do this, you have to do two things:  1. Sign up for an RSS reader service.  There are several good ones; Google Reader, Bloglines, Netvibes and My Yahoo are just a few.  2.  Subscribe to some feeds.  Usually, a blog will have a button somewhere on the page with an RSS symbol (rss).  Click the button, and then select your RSS reader if necessary.

I’m subscribed to 206 blogs in Google Reader (which is really too many).  Often, when I’m reading blogs I find something that interests me, or that contains useful information, or that I think others would be interested in.  I don’t always want to devote a whole post to sharing a link, though, so instead, I just click the Share button.

Now, if we were “friends” on Google Reader, you’d be able to see my shared items (just like friends can see my activity on Facebook). However, I don’t have any friends on Google Reader.  Shocking, I know.  After all, the whole point of the internet is to rack up as many friends as possible on as many sites as possible.

If you want to friend me on Google Reader, go ahead!  But here’s what I really do with my shared items:  I have them show up in a widget on the left side of this blog.  You can see what I’m reading, and what I think is worth sharing, right there.

If you’re on Google Reader, you can get a Shared Items widget by clicking on Shared Items in the left sidebar of your reader, and then clicking on Add a clip.  You can then adjust the title, color scheme, and number of items before copying and pasting the code into your blog or website (I pasted the code into a text widget in WordPress).

If you really, really like my shared items, you can even subscribe to a feed of them.  But be careful.  Subscribing to feeds can be addictive.

Blog Tours: A Good Idea?

I usually stay away from blog gimmicks that are designed to increase traffic.  I don’t do those 25-things-type memes (which have been around for several years; I used to have a text widget on my blog stating “I don’t do memes”).  I’m not interested in blog carnivals — I barely understand them anyway.  But I do like books, so when two author-bloggers recently announced that they were doing blog tours in March, that got my attention.

In a blog tour, the author makes guest appearances on a number of different blogs, either as a guest blogger or by way of an interview.  Both of the authors below are touring different blogs each day during March.

Christina Katz is the author of Writer Mama and Get Known Before the Book Deal.  She also teaches email writing classes and speaks and leads workshops at writing conferences.  I took her class on Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff, and highly recommend it for beginning non-fiction writers who want to get published in magazines.  Christina is doing a blog tour to celebrate the second anniversary of Writer Mama.  You can find out where she’s appearing each day at The Writer Mama Riffs.

J.A. Konrath is known for his mystery series featuring Lt. Jack (Jacqueline) Daniels, which incorporates gruesome murders, police procedures, and a strong dose of humor.  His next novel, to be released March 31, is different.  Afraid is a horror novel about a small town mistakenly attacked by a psychopathic Special Forces unit.  It’s being released under a pseudonym (Jack Kilborn).  Konrath is doing the blog tour to promote Afraid, and as an experiment to find out whether a blog book tour is a good promotional tour.

Konrath will be appearing here on TechnoEarthMama Thursday, March 5 for a short interview about his life as a writer.  I hope you’ll be able to come by to find out more about Joe Konrath and about Afraid!

Future Economy: Trust

You’ve probably heard that traditional daily newspapers are in trouble. Newspapers have been laying off and buying out employees to cut costs. The Seattle Times Sunday and daily editions have shrunk significantly in recent weeks (the January 7 edition was reportedly 18 pages long), leaving Seattle residents wondering whether the paper will survive the year. The Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Baltimore Sun (among others), has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, although their papers aren’t going out of business — yet.

So it wasn’t a total surprise to read a column in the Atlantic suggesting that even the New York Times as we know it could disappear this year. Michael Hirschorn suggests that if this happened, a new, online version of the Times might look more like the Huffington Post, relying more on citizen-journalists/bloggers and news stories aggregated from other sources, and less on reporters employed by the Times. The problem with this, he says, is that it’s the traditional reporters who have the sources and reporting expertise, and it’s the traditional media who have the resources to send people around the world to report.

But what this really comes down to is trust. The sources are still out there, regardless of what happens to the newspapers and their reporters – but will those sources talk to journalists who aren’t attached to a major newspaper or television network? And will the public actually pay attention to and trust those journalists?

Trust will be essential to the future economy. We don’t have a lot of trust in our current economic system. We’ve seen companies and individuals lie, cheat and steal to make a profit, and we’ve seen the recent failures of banks and companies, both large and small.

The new question is, can we trust each other? In the media, can you trust your neighborhood blogger (and citizen journalists in other areas) to give you the news? In Seattle, neighborhood blogs like Capitol Hill Seattle, Central District News, and the West Seattle Blog are becoming primary news sources for many residents, even as the daily newspapers are declining. Justin Carder, owner of the Capitol Hill Seattle blog, has even put together a neighborhood blogging platform called Neighborlogs, which is currently in the beta-testing stage (disclaimer: I am one of the beta-testers). Carder sees Neighborlogs eventually being used in neighborhoods across the country.

Or, with food, can you trust your local farmer to provide safe, good-quality food for you and your family? Or do you feel you have to shop at a major supermarket?

In housing, can we trust each other enough to live together? Communal living is one way to provide safe, quality housing to more families and individuals.

And how can we develop this trust, so that we can work together to create a new world and a new economy?

ADDITION: Shefaly has an excellent blog post regarding trust as a social currency, and how trust is measured. I highly recommend reading it if you’re interested in the subject.

Blogging Break!

I’m sitting in a coffee shop with friends, working on an article about Christmas Carol CD’s (I’ll link you up when it appears).  I just had to take a little blogging break, though, to capture a bit of the atmosphere here.

We’re at Sacred Grounds Coffee Shop, which is actually part of the Quality Inn and Suites at the Portland Airport.  It’s also part of a church!  The Eastside Foursquare Church owns and operates the hotel and coffee shop, and they hold their regular church services and groups and stuff in the conference room(s).  So we’re sitting here now, typing away, listening to a combination of Christian radio and booming drums coming from the church area.  They’re singing something that includes “Hallelujah” and sounds vaguely like the music of Simon and Garfunkel.  It’s intriguing enough that I’m thinking of catching an actual service sometime.

But otherwise, this is a really calm and peaceful atmosphere; perfect for either getting some work done or for having good conversation with friends.  There are abundant tables, plus a sofa and armchair nook.  The decor is reddish, and the room is softly lit, yet bright enough to work comfortably.  Coffee is good, although I’m no coffee snob (they feature Tully’s coffee), and they serve soup, sandwiches and baked goodies as well.

I’m feeling very much at peace and at the same time productive.  I like.