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Saturday, August 13, 2016

I Made John Paul Aguiar's July Twitter List!

In the midst of attempting to accommodate a hobby with professional work demands, I was thrilled to receive a special mention from John Paul Aguiar, as part of his recognition of members of his Twitter network! Yes, I made John's July List, titled much better by him as "15 Top People On Twitter To Follow – July"! Thank you so much John! The pleasure is all mine, and thank you for sharing interesting things in the first place!

Not one to seek out any kind of recognition in the areas of my life where such may be sought out, things like this go a long way to making my day! It's a great feeling when you do nothing spectacular, or necessarily out-of-your-way to be appreciated for the effort nonetheless. It's such a feelgood, warming sensation that makes you want to get up and say, "Wow! Thank you for seeing me do this, and for thinking it to be helpful to you! Most importantly, thank you for taking the time out to recognize my effort!" But, because we are all so busy with the things we allow to consume our thoughts and concerns all at once, we tend to take things for granted, even if we don't take things for granted. Therefore, it is so refreshing to find those people who recognize the "human" behind the talents, skills, knowledge, abilities, and what have you, to attempt to connect to the soul of another sentient being and let them know that their being the way they are is the perfect complement to another's existence, no matter how major or minuscule the effect.

John is one of those few people who, in spite of what he is up to in his own life, always stops to show gratitude for any little thing that his friends and followers may do to help him promote his tweets. Of course, you may read this and wonder how I can make a call to celebrate that which is run-of-the-mill necessary, but I warn you to not be hasty in your judgement just yet. John's work is assisting people promote their own websites and businesses online via blogging and social media marketing advice. Having attempted only the content writing side of this business for a little while, I have to say that it is a full-time job, and the more time you can spare, the more successful you will be. So, to me, it is worth mentioning in today's revolving-around-money world that John takes out the time he could have otherwise used to earn more, to say "Thank you." Oh, and I don't just mean when he thinks it is convenient for him to do so, because you know, business comes first, and blah blah blah. Every single time that I have retweeted one of his original tweets, he has always thanked me. Always! In our no-time-for-life existence, it is the little things like this that remind me that life is worth living.

Thank you very much John! As mentioned, it's always a pleasure to share interesting content, for the benefit of all, and I do it gladly! Have a great day, and I hope bigger things come your way!

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Taking Myself to Task

I have wanted to focus more on my writing, and to generally be doing more of it than I have been in the last few years. And since I've finally figured out that wanting alone is not the best way to hope to get something done, I decided to set myself up on a task to be completed, involving a series of writing tasks revolving mostly around those topics that come to my mind and that I want to say something about. This is starting to sound unfortunately similar to when I first started this blog, but this time around, and now that I'm about a thousand posts of "early years" nonsense out of the way, I wish to make a more professional effort of it this time around, maintaining a schedule and watching my error frequencies and performing other such, basic analysis.

Many serious writers whom I have met and interacted with have often looked down upon the basic "Readability Statistics" that are available on MSWord. It's not particularly profound, and I remember when I asked about the last three statistics in the "Readability" section, the closest I came to a good explanation was when I was told that I shouldn't worry too much about these, more about the grade I would receive on my assignment. Able to acquire information on my own now, thanks to such rigorous schooling, I have used these stats as indicative measures of my writing. There was a brief moment in time when I discussed these with John, and as my boss and mentor at the time, he was very good about pointing out that these measures were more applicable to the world of the high school English classroom in the US. Passive sentences are looked down upon in academic writing, as they are both verbose and serve no particular stylistic enhancement to the writing task at hand, so the lower this percentage the better. This was very much in line with the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, where unless we were writing to a specific audience that demanded a much higher Grade Level, it should ideally be about the upper middle school level to cater to a much larger audience. The Flesch Reading Ease Score, he explained to me, had a score that functioned in the opposite direction. The higher the number, the better the score, but really, because of its analysis of word and sentence lengths in arriving at a test score, any extra focus on it may disparage a budding writer not looking to excel in academic writing. For me, with my passion for long, run-on sentences, and big bombastic words that take up as much space as my sentences, this was most apt as far as timely explanations go. 

I will be tracking the MSWord-generated results of these tests, for this writing task, because I just want to see what it looks like for the kind of blogging that I am doing. Of course, as little as I have contributed to this blog in the last few years, this is possibly shaping up to be another one of those good-idea-bad-implementation things already. However, I am making a far more serious effort to get off my lazy wannabe-writing-but-can't-find-the-time butt and really make this happen. Normally I would say something clich├ęd like "Wish me luck", but this time around, I am going to ask people both online and offline, the latter with proximity of habitat to not exceed five kilometers from my rented apartment, to kick my butt if I get lazy again. Drop me a line, knock on my door, curse at me in public, but please, if you do not see me posting something at least once a week, I encourage you to take stern action and just wake me back up to this post and my apparent commitment to complete a writing task, and I will be most grateful for this. You have my permission to "awaken" me, but not to do so in a manner involving physical violence, or projectiles, or both, or...you get my drift. :) I hope it will not come to this, certainly!

A couple of weeks ago, I attempted to get back into my blogging rhythm by firing off a series of posts, attempting to make it a daily memoir of occurrences or thoughts, once again. However, some posts were pushing the 2000+ word count mark, and while I do not shy away from attempting to produce large pieces of text, attempting to do so while I am at work and handling responsibilities that I get paid for was proving to be very difficult. Furthermore, I felt that there was too much interference of work-like blandness that started permeating my writing, so much so that I have been attempting to wrap up what started out as a spur-of-the-moment piece more than a week ago, and I still have not gotten around to liking the way it’s turning out. With my newfound plan, I am most likely going to start from scratch again on this post, and see if my newly rediscovered zest and zeal for blabbering on in type is going to take me to a new, unfamiliar, yet very comforting place. It is a place that I have wanted to be for some time now. Now, both that time and place have arrived...and I do not plan to miss the bus this time around!

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Here are the MSWord 2007 Readability Statistics for this blog post:

Words = 900
Characters = 4025
Paragraphs = 4
Sentences = 25
--
Sentences/Paragraph = 6.2
Words/Sentence = 36.0
Characters/Word = 4.3
--
Passive Sentences = 8%
Flesch Reading Ease = 48.6
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level = 15.4

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Blog Post #1000: Reflecting on Milestones and a Journey called Life

When I started this blog back in 2005, I did not have any particular concept in mind. I mean, I tried to have one, something like a theme that would help whatever I had to say or talk about around a singular anchoring point. Trouble was, I did not know what I would talk about, or how often, or the best way to talk about things. I was totally inexperienced, and was asked to join because a couple of friends from college, separated after graduating college and returning to our lives, as it were, decided that people would just share thoughts and experiences from around the world, and the rest of us would just participate in a similar fashion, commenting and guest blogging on occasion, for that really community kind of blogging.

Social Networking Attempt

Noble thoughts as these were, implementation seemed to lapse after we soon realized that hobbies we like are soon relegated to a sterner, less accommodating place when we “grow up”, as signified by our graduating college. There were attempts, and years of attempts even, but in the end, we had to call it a day and, if nothing else, keep our blogs online as a reminder that once, there were a few of us who tried to leave a mark of our existence, as represented by our blogs, to let the world know of our eclectically celebration-worthy existence. Good times, these were surely, but in effect, they were a lingering reminder of a time and place that once was, and that had once prepared us in its own way, for what was to come in our lives. Of course, add to this the advent of more user-friendly, eat-every-minute-of-your-workday kind of social networking platforms, and if the attempt to maintain a blog in the absence of these was difficult to begin with, well, them showing up was like a swift kick to the family jewels that still seems to leave a lot of us reeling, and waiting to be able to breathe in again.

Not A Blogger

I’d never considered myself to be a blogger, no matter when I first started out trying to make sense of the things I wanted to say in such a public space, nor now, after several years of allowing this blog to languish like a book left first on the shelf, and then shoved unceremoniously into some large trunk, to sit in an attic and slowly wither away over a few human generations. I have tried all sorts of things with this blog though, without attempting to monetize it beyond just the AdSense displays that, needless to say because of my lack of sustained activity, have yet to earn me any money. I did not have head for self-help, or  any field that I considered myself an expert in, so as to offer sound advice that others would be in a position to benefit from. But no, there was no formula that I was willing to stick to, mostly because I wasn’t able to see things through to an end, or at least, I didn’t allow myself to focus on the end of any one of the things that I had attempted to begin, simply because I would let my life get in the way of trying to recount the things that I heard, felt, and lived by.

Over The Past Decade…

I have seen many changes on Blogger. One of the first things I wanted to do was to be able to use Post Summaries, something that for a rambling writer like me, would have made far less hellish on readers to have to meander with me as I finally got to my point. Although I did try to pick up a few handy HTML tricks, I was never good enough to set up a Post template, and certainly not one that worked consistently, so I abandoned this. Then, there was the inclusion of Google Analytics and Adsense to the Blogger interface, which made it easier to login once and browse for the information I was looking for. Don’t get me wrong, but even though I didn’t set myself any targets or attempt to grow my followers by responding to these cues as provided to me by the behind-the-scenes calculations, I did use them to try and study what these mechanics were about, just in case I decided to step into real advertising of my blog by funding it myself. More recently, it almost seems like Blogger is hanging on because it is a Google product that the company has decided to hold on to for a while longer, like they did with Orkut, and that in the face of WordPress-like customizability and functionality, blogs like this will have to be migrated, begun anew, or simply go the way of the dinosaurs.

Some Fond Remembrances

There was a time, maybe in its first couple of years, where I used to have more people post on the blog. Now, I’m not going to make it sound like someone else posted on this blog on a regular basis, certainly not more irregularly regular than myself, but I would like to point out that the few occasions on which it did take place, I felt great elation at what can only be perceived as a vindication of some kind. Of course, there were times when I sought out chances to have my own words on other’s blogs as well, and returning the favor was a wonderful experience to be a part of, as well. As with the general time crunch that I and most of my fellow civilized sufferers complain about facing, it meant that such generous acts became an even greater impossibility than trying to keep a blog afloat. Still, there was a lot of good stuff on here that, well, a poet friend of mine who finally decided he didn’t want any of his stuff to be anywhere in the world at all pulled down all of his posts. Really wish he had skipped one or two so that you could check out his great poetry, certainly as compared to mine, I’m not afraid to admit. However, well, I do not hang out with people who do not carry a special kind of zeal for their passions, certainly as evidenced by the thorough job he did of hunting down all of his work and removing it from this blog. Who knows, maybe the poetry bug will come back to bite him, and this time around, he will be truly phenomenal with the verse that he pens so freely.

Middle of Twenty Sixteen

At this point in my life, almost eleven years after I started this blog, it serves as a reminder of the kind of person I have been at various stages during this period. There is a lot less blogged than really goes on in my life, and thank God for this, but of those things that I have decided to post, just glancing at it usually sends me on a trip of what that time and place when I wrote and thought about the things that I wrote about was like. Of course, I did not need to write about anything really, but having started out on this path a long time ago, the writing has helped me to deal with the circumstances and people in my life that I would have normally entrusted a psychiatrist to help me deal with. Of course, while I do not have to afford a “shrink”, to refer to the practitioner thusly, I have had to try to deal with things in my own way, and with my own limited understanding of such matters in the first place. It reminds me of the fact that the longer I keep doing this, as intermittently as it may be overall, the fact that what I post, when I do so, it offers me a greater and more in-depth opportunity to understand myself better. Better still is the fact that this should enable me to half-achieve my purpose, at least understanding what makes me the way I am, so to speak. And, even though the original intent was to have multiple people be a part of this blog and have them talking about their own life and life experiences, with some sort of self-analysis of the same, this blog is now an island that is ready to connect with other networked islands and island networks, for the sheer hope and joy that connecting will help reveal things of a new nature, whatever the things or their actual nature. Come a long way and still much more to go? Quite right. Willing to go the distance? Yes, I am pretty sure that I want this blog to be a source of some kind of utile information that achieves some good in the world. Too bad, I am just another brainwashed mammalian biped who seeks power and glory by achieving it in a little cocoon that is inaccessible to everything else in the world.

The Future of this Blog?

I have considered moving into audio and/or video. Vlogging? Only until I picture my audience, small though it is, willing to do themselves physical harm and end their lives because they cannot stand for another word to escape my lips in the same monotone manner. No, I am not going to sing my posts either to try to combat this. The odd podcast? Maybe, if I can manage to work out a way to have either the podcasts or the blog posts complement one another, I might try and put this into action. Maybe I will do more interviews of people with an audio/video element to them. Or, and at the risk of making it seem like all of what I wish to discuss has already been neatly and very well thought out, any one of a long list of planned, semi-planned, and almost-planned ideas and actual plans may be tried. There are a few aspects of housekeeping that I would like to deal with in the near future, such as running through all my posts with a fine-toothed spell checker and making sure that I do a better job of checking for syntax and orthographical errors before firing off a post to be published on this blog. Of course, among other things, it does not speak well of any editing skills and/or knowledge I may claim to have, among other things. Then, there are also the constant and never-quite-over-till-it-is-over aesthetic modifications to the blog, such as changing of the overall color scheme, altering the banner in the header, deciding what widgets to keep and get rid of, etc. Suffice it to say that whatever may happen, if I am allowed to continue this blog, and if I take it a little more seriously than I have taken it, certainly lately, then I am quite sure that the cumulative results at the end of this exercise, whatever that event or occasion may be, should be a very interesting thing to dive into to find out more about the world as experienced by me.

This blog has been my one constant excuse to keep writing, particularly after college, where ‘writing’ without the hope of returns from the activity are quickly looked down upon by well-meaning members of one’s family. Honestly, I have not needed an excuse to write, and come to think of it, I have needed even less of an excuse to publish what I write. It is just that, until this blog came along, I was very happy to keep what I wrote to myself, not only because I was not comfortable or happy with what I was churning out, but because in some strange way, it was very private. I said it was very strange because, now that I think about it, from harboring these thoughts privately, to just blurting them out across the Internet, it was a strangely public hiding of what I had held on to as only my bits of pain and confusion. By having it out there, maybe others would be able to read and relate, or they would have gone ahead and described how they were in a similar way but managed to overcome it. Well, this is what I believe was going through my head when I decided to air out my dirty laundry on Blogger, a little over ten years ago. Now, here’s hoping that the next milestone blog post for this blog comes about a lot sooner, and sees much progress along some of the areas that I have briefly talked about.

At this point, I guess I should disclaim that while my Blogger post counter shows me at 999 posts prior to publishing this one, this number may include a couple of posts that are still in the “Draft” stage of their development, so, this number may not be entirely accurate. However, I am going to take this milestone at face value and celebrate it anyway.

Wish me all the best, and thank you for your continued readership! Here is to another decade and a little bit.