Blogging

I built a fence and I bet you have one too

Fence

The fence, while under construction.

I built a fence. Well, when you get right down to it, it really works more like a wall. But it serves a purpose and it does it very well.

Raise your hand if you have a fence around your place too!

raisedhands

Why did I built a fence?

The new neighbor. Actually, he really isn’t all that bad but, for various reasons, I have wanted to put a fence up for a while now. So why now?

  1. His place is a little run down. It is a bit unsightly with junk laying around, overgrown flower beds, a lawn that isn’t mowed (assuming there is lawn), garbage, house is falling apart, etc. To his credit, he is a new occupant so he is working on cleaning it up. Despite of his efforts, I just really don’t want to see it.
  2. His pets. He has two big dogs. They are well behaved, but they are dogs and they get excited. So, they wander into our yard. They also crap in it…which again, isn’t his fault, per se, but I hate cleaning up after other people’s animals. I just don’t want them in my yard.
  3. My privacy, and by extension his. So, I don’t really want people looking in my back yard, or my windows, or my garage, or my front yard. Well, ok, to be fair they can look in the front yard, but not the windows. They are off limits. Anyway, I am kind of a private person and without some way to block the view of my neighbor or anyone else it feels like my life is on display. Not that I have anything to hide, but why does it have to be on display? Know what I mean?
  4. Having an open yard is not an open invitation to visit, for my neighbor or anyone else. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way. Just because I don’t have a fence doesn’t mean you can come into my yard any time you want and it doesn’t mean you can come over for a visit any time you want. There has to be an invitation, otherwise it is just trespassing (and that is against the law, ya know?).

Obviously, these things also apply to me. The fence keeps my privacy and keeps unwanted people out of my yard but it also goes both ways. It keeps me from being in his yard and keeps me from being able to see what he is doing. I respect the fact that I know there is a border between us and that we can live in harmony that way.

Besides my neighbor, there are other things to keep out of my yard too.

  1. In the fall, fewer fallen leaves blow into my yard. That means less time raking for me.
  2. Fewer deer come into the yard. Don’t get me wrong, I like deer. They are so gentle and docile and really aren’t hurting anything major. But, they would come through the yard in the spring and eat the new buds on the apple tree, which then meant fewer apples later in the year. Or, they would eat the apples off the lower branches of the tree, which meant fewer apples at harvest time. Not a big deal, but annoying to some degree.
  3. It keeps some of the garbage from the neighborhood out. I have a couple of neighbors who insist on overloading their garbage cans before it can be picked up. As such, the can gets knocked over or the birds open the bags or raccoons spill the contents as they dig. Either way, garbage then blows into my yard on occasion. The fence helps prevent that.
  4. It just provides a sense of security. Maybe it is a false sense to some degree, but it feels like if there is a barrier then those who are only moderately motivated will attempt to cross it – thus, a discouragement to most.

If a fence can do all that, it is no wonder when you drive through neighborhoods in ANY city (or state) in America that you will find fences in yard after yard, or drive through the country and you will find fence around property after property. Why? Because they work!

So here’s a thought…if it is OK to build a fence or a wall around my house or property, etc…

Why is it not OK to build a wall or fence on our nation’s borders? Aren’t the goals the same?

shutterstock_459602719

It seems a bit hypocritical to me if you have a fence around your property and oppose having one on the nation’s border. If is, after all, a property line that should be protected as well.

Desperately seeking direction, or not

img_4788

Ever feel that way? Sometimes definitely maybe almost always?

So, it seems I have come to a crossroads and I am looking for some genuine feedback.

I haven’t had much of a “focus” on the blog and as a result, I think, growth has been slow. I haven’t been able to find a correlation between the posts that do well or and those that do not. One thing that hasn’t made sense to me is the writing I think is good and actually addresses something of substance, doesn’t seem to get a lot of interest; but, the posts that don’t really address anything of a serious nature seems to score higher with views and likes…which is perplexing.

So I am going to make an appeal, to you the readers (if you really exist), what do you want to see more of or less of? What direction do you think I should go? Should I find a place of focus, a niche, if you will? Or, should I keep doing what I have been doing?

This may take some work on your part, but I think it’s the only way to get a good picture of what you like/dislike (unless you have a fabulous memory). So, if you are so inclined, please take a gander at past posts and give me some feedback. I’d even be willing to do the same for you if you find yourself in a similar funk.

Randomness & pre-update

img_4555

Good morning all!

The sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Spring has sprung and the rain clouds (at least for now) have gone away. The Pacific Northwest is the best place on Earth this time of year! There is green everywhere, the mountains are snow-capped, and the sky is blue checked with white puffy clouds…and those April showers have brought the May flowers (ok, we have a Tulip festival here in town in April so there were flowers then too).

Two random things on my mind this morning…

First, I am considering the purchase of a new car. Like BRAND spanking new, which I have never had before. The current vehicle is a little commuter car with 230k miles on it. I bought it because I knew I would run the wheels off of it and I know there is still like in it, but having better gas mileage would be even a better things. Currently I get about 33mpg, but I have to fill up about every four days and that is a drain. So, I am looking at two hybrid cars that get 50+mpg. I am considering the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq and the 2018 Kia Niro.

  1. Anyone out there own these cars already? If so, what do you like or dislike?
  2. Are there other hybrid cars that others have that they would recommend or not? Why or why not?

Second, the other random thing on my mind this morning isn’t all that random. Let’s call it a “pre-update” to an update for the goal I set at my 46th birthday. Anyway, now that the weather has taken a turn for the drier and warmer, I have started rolling outta bed an hour earlier each day to begin the day with a walk. Let’s just say, 4:30am is a killer. I am motivated to get this done and I am starting to see a little more progress…anyway, I’ll talk more about that next week with the official update!

  1. What things, at least when it comes to exercise, motivate you to get out of bed?
  2. When do you like to do your workouts, morning or evening and why?

Well, that is it for today. Thanks for stopping in and pausing, if only for a moment, with me. Now, off you go! Go make the day a great one!

img_4523

An apple tree in the yard, full bloom!

I got nothin’…and maybe that’s somethin’.

nothing

Well, I ain’t got nothin’. I got nothin’ to say this week because I haven’t really had my focus on blogging. Maybe it’s because I am having a hard time motivating myself to write. Maybe its because I have been focused on other things. Maybe its because I haven’t had the time I would like to write. Probably, it is all of those.

The last week, well maybe two, I have been working on getting the new Facebook account for @Stupidboard set up and running. I have placed my first “ads” out there and have been getting some interest, so that is exciting and I will continue to play around with that. I don’t know, its exciting but it has been taking time to feel my way around it.

I have also added two new links to the menu, up at the top of the blog. One is for the website I created for my classroom many years ago, Grenz History. It is the place my students would go to get their assignments, download handout outs, and generally just be my place to to centralize things – especially for students who were absent. It made things easier to keep track of and the students all knew that is where they needed to go. I am having a hard time letting go of it. I don’t have a classroom any longer, but I spend hundreds of hours putting it together and I think I could probably make it useful at some point again, but for now it just sits there. Take a look if you like.

The other new link at the top of the page, in the menu, is for my Teachers Pay Teachers store – Learn ’em Fast History. I no longer have a classroom, but after 15 years of teaching I have a lot of lessons and units and handouts and stuff I think could be useful to others. Now that I am not using it and have a little time, I am adding more and more things to the store. I started the store about four years ago, but there were only a few things out there and so there wasn’t a lot in the way of sales. Over the last year and a half, I have added more and more of my content (and will continue to add more) and sales have started to pick up. This month has been the best month in my store’s history, so that is kind of exciting too! If you are inclined to check it out, or recommend it to a teacher friend, I would be grateful.

So, there you have it! I an’t got nothin’. Or maybe I do…

MjAxMy02MWE3NzY3YzFkY2IxZmUx

Stunning and astounding doubt

blog image

The above comment was left on my blog a couple of weeks ago and I have been struggling on what to do with it. I have my blog set so I can approve the comments and I marked this one as spam, not because I didn’t want a negative comment on my blog but because I didn’t want to give someone who is a Holocaust denier a voice.

The last part of that previous sentence resounds in my head – “…didn’t want to give someone who is a Holocaust denier a voice.” Why does it echo so loudly? Well, because I value the 1st Amendment and the right to free speech. Therein lies the struggle. Do I give this person a voice and try to convince them that they are wrong, or do I just pretend it didn’t happen and move on? My initial reaction was to just pretend it didn’t happen, but it has been nagging at me for the last two weeks for two reasons: 1) it is completely off base and should be countered; 2) by ignoring it and not giving the person a voice, I am going against what I believe is an important part of our society, regardless of whether it is offensive or completely wrong. People should be able to voice what they believe.

So, with it nagging me in the back of my head, I have sat on it and debated with myself about it. I posted it on my Instagram account and asked what they thought I should do. One very succinct response was that it was easy to counter because the claim is so far off base. The best part of the response was “If [he] died tomorrow, there would be less evidence that [he] ever existed than there is to prove the Holocaust was a historical fact. Yet, I doubt he would deny his own existence.”

That leaves me to pose two questions to my readers and fellow bloggers:

  1. What do you do with negative comments to your blog? Do you allow them AND ignore them by not responding OR do you allow them and respond?
  2. What do you think is the right approach for dealing with this particular comment? How would you respond?

I would appreciate your advice. What would you do?

“Like” – Its a Milestone

500

Just had to put this out there…even though it isn’t on my regular schedule for publishing (“rules” are meant to be broken, right?). It might not mean much to some of you, but it is something to me!

500 TOTAL likes for the site. It feels like it has taken way too long to get to this milestone, yet at the same time if I consider the number of followers I have then I guess not. Perhaps the next 500 won’t take so long.

Anyway, thanks to everyone that has followed so far and for those who have pressed LIKE. Knowing someone is actually reading (well, maybe not but it feels that way) what I wrote makes me feel good – as I am sure it does you too.

As always, if you see something here on the site that you like – please press LIKE. If you see something you really like, I would appreciate it if you would SHARE or REBLOG it.

Thanks to all.

Building an empire is tough

Building a social media empire is tough. Really tough.

One thing I am discovering since I have begun to post more frequently, as in “on regular basis,” is that drawing in an audience is tough. Some days are good days and others not so much. Not everyone is going to pay attention to what I am doing, I know that. Nor is everyone going to like, or dislike, what I have to say. However, I guess I haven’t really hit the nerve that will get people talking or get them to really stick around. So, I am going to have to keep working on that.

Another thing that I am discovering is that I need to post more often, in all the places I am trying to grow. There in lies the rub…how do you keep up a constant presence while still being able to maintain a job and family life? There is a balance, I am sure, but what is it?

Empire 1

img_4351

There has definitely been some improvement and growth here at the blog Understanding, Optional. Since I have kept a regular posting schedule of once a week – every Tuesday morning – I have seen some more followers and there have even been more “likes” and comments. I feel like that is a great start! But, I want more!!  (Maybe I am a little greedy?) So, I’ll keep working at it and I’ll keep finding things that interest me, and hopefully interests you at the same time.

If I could ask one thing, could you pass me around? OK, well, not me specifically but if you find something of interest and worth sharing, please do!

Empire 2

img_4412

If you haven’t already stopped by the link at the top of the page, Stupid Board: Classroom Quotes, you should. There is an explanation as to what exactly I am doing in that other empire.

Over my years of teaching, I was going to write a book but decided to try a social media route instead. The Instagram account has been growing, but it too has been slow. I am sure that if I posted more often than once a week that it would grow faster.

I would also like to start including content from other teachers. We all, including myself, have been on the stupid board, so I am looking for others that are willing to contribute and be featured too. If you want to follow and spread the word, I would appreciate that too. In the meantime, enjoy a little humor!

Thanks for stopping in and taking a look around again. If you have any suggestions on what can keep this empire growing and thriving, I would be grateful.

 

A question of quality or quantity?

qualityvsquantity

I haven’t ever really committed to a “schedule” for publishing my blog. I am not sure I will. However, I am looking to do more with it this year than I have in the past. That being said, the ultimate question comes down to – quality or quantity?

When it comes to growing your blog, which is better? I am sure that quality matters, but does it really matter when it comes to growing your blog?

I have seen other bloggers who say just getting out there and publishing something is better than nothing. Yes, I understand that. I have also seen other bloggers say that putting out something that others want to read is important. Yes, I understand that. So where do the amount of what you publish and the quality of what you publish meet? Is there an intersection of balance or is that a fantasy (especially for someone with a family and a job)?

Perhaps I just think too much about this and go into too much detail by trying to support what I write with facts and details. Perhaps I care to much about what I write and want to make sure it is accurate. Perhaps I should care less, but not be careless.

Does having a schedule really work?

Does having a singular topic or focus area help?

Any insight or advice from the veteran bloggers out there? I know there are lots of places I can probably go to read about this, but I don’t want to comb through pages and pages of info because in the end it is all just opinions anyway, right? So, what do you think?

Milestone – 100

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 11.13.54 AM

The above congratulatory image came across my blog notifications with my last post and I have to say I was a little surprised to see it. I hadn’t been following my stats that closely since I hit the last milestone so I am happy to see I have lasted this long, though admittedly I probably would have gotten here faster had I not taken nearly a year-long break.

I started this blog on a whim and have found that I really enjoy it. I enjoy writing. I get to say what I want or highlight something I think is worthy of people knowing; if people are paying attention and are interested in my words, well that is just a bonus! My wife thinks me spending time on this thing is silly but, oh well, you can’t win them all over…

These days I do most of my writing while I am at work (not while working!), during my lunch hour. It doesn’t give me a lot of time to write and it takes longer than I would like to get some things finished and published, but it is usually quiet and I have a little time to focus on something I like to do. I guess in some ways, it relaxes me.

Anyway, to mark the occasion I thought I would review some of the stats I have accumulated over the last 100 posts and see where I have come from, which might just give me some direction in where I am going…or not. I read lots of blogs and there are so many out there with a singular focus, but that is not something I have ever wanted to do. Maybe that is why my “readership” is low, but who knows for sure. Maybe I just don’t choose topics that people are interested in. Either way, I write about things I care about and if others care too, great. If not, that’s ok too.

TOP 10 (Views)

These are based on views, but I am sure not all of these are based on “reads” so much as some may have something to do with hits because of “image searches.” But I guess I’ll never really know for sure.

  1. Redbox Chat – Customer Service Lost in Translation
  2. Milestone – 50
  3. Parental Detention (or, I’m Making a Point for My Child)
  4. Let’s Review…
  5. Dollar Shave Club: Review
  6. About    (apparently people wonder who I am?)
  7. Don’t Be So Bossy!
  8. Easter is Better Than Christmas – Why?
  9. Goodbye, Gramps
  10. “Can you please call the police”

TOP 10 (My Preference)

These are the posts I enjoyed writing the most and believe they are worth reading if you give them a gander or two, but that’s just me…have a click and let me know what you think!

  1. Goodbye, Gramps
  2. Gaffigan and Giggles
  3. I Kissed a Girl, and I Liked It!
  4. Eject “God Bless America” from Baseball.
  5. Bullying – Do Children Need to be Taught to Cope Better?
  6. Pet Perturbed
  7. The American Oligarchy
  8. Duck, Duck, Genocide
  9. Thankful for a Gift
  10. The Debate: What is “Life”?

Scope (or reach)

One thing that continues to amaze me is the scope (or reach) of this little blog. It amazes me that something I post could be read or viewed by so many people around the globe. I am always interested to look at the little map of views and see where people are “checking in” from. I know the internet makes things more accessible and I shouldn’t be that amazed but it just fascinates me. Looking at the stats for this particular category I can see that I my blog has been viewed from 96 different countries!

That is a pretty amazing stat to me. Of course, a majority of the views have been from North America and Europe, but there are some little countries in remote places too. Pretty cool and I hope the views from different countries continues to grow so I can add even more countries to the list. Is it possible to get at least one view from every country?

Readers/Subscribers

Here is one place I hope to grow, and quickly! More than half of the people who are listed as “followers” are from my Facebook friends. That’s great and probably most of my views come from things I post that are also posted on Facebook. But, I would like to get the number of “followers,” real followers, up. If I am reading the stats correctly, I have about 155. Not bad for someone who doesn’t post on a regular schedule, nor has a specific topic to focus on, but I would love to grow that number. If anyone has a suggestion or three about how to do that, I would love to hear from you!

Closing thoughts…

Thanks for indulging and reading my review of the first 100 posts. I appreciate everyone who has stopped by, and especially those who keep stopping by. You all give me a little jolt of confidence each time you do.

If you have been around for a while or have read more than a few words on here, I would like some feedback. What do you like? What do you not like? What do you think I should focus on, if anything? Where should I go with this from here? I am sure you all have ideas about what you might like to see more of, or less of…so shoot me some feedback. I’ll listen, I promise!

Thanks.

Ryan

In the days of outrage…

…why not jump on this bandwagon?

Since everyone is mad or offended about or by anything and something, all day, every day, I found and issue we all should be totally outraged about. Let’s add this to the outrageous pile of outrages so everyone can be outraged out of their minds! I mean, since we are all picking things to be outraged about I am going to pick this – motorcycle helmets.

 

 

Well, not just any motorcycle helmets. I am talking about the ever popular NAZI “replica” helmets. I am sure you have seen them and maybe didn’t even know they were a replica of something so abhorrent. I would even venture a guess that some of the people using them as a lid on their motorcycle noggin probably don’t even know what they are wearing. But then, I might just be naive…

It’s weird how you start seeing something everywhere when you start paying attention. I live in the northwest corner of the country so this isn’t exactly the time for motorcycle weather and yet I seem to have noticed at least one helmet per day over the last couple of weeks. I have seen them on heads. I have seen them illustrated on the back windows of pickup trucks. I have seen them in ads for motorcycles.

They aren’t real expensive, I guess, at least in comparison to some of the other helmets available. Maybe that’s why they are so popular. I have no idea really, so I am just speculating. I found them at one website with a rather curious sales description:

“German Motorcycle Helmets have been specifically designed to look like the war helmets worn by German soldiers during World War I and World War II. These rebellious-looking lids are a cool and lightweight option for protecting your noggin in style..German-style helmets are a lightweight and stylish way to fulfill the requirements of the helmet law…And most of our German helmets are classically clean in style because like a plain, black leather jacket, these helmets don’t need bright colors and flashy graphics to make them cool…”

*Emphasis above is mine.*

Should we all be upset about this? Aren’t we supposed to hate everything related to Germany (really?), Nazis, fascism, racism, murder, etc.? Shouldn’t we be offended by this because, you know, it is easy to be offended about?

Anyway, if you gotta be outraged about something, this is a great next target. What do you think? We can eradicate this menace by running every motorcycle rider we see wearing this style of helmet right off the road! That’ll show ’em! Besides, obviously someone who wears this helmet is a nationalistic racist and we are only doing the world a favor, right?

*Trigger warning* This topic may be sensitive and possibly outrage you. Find a safe space and rock back and forth while humming lightly should this actually occur. May I suggest a dark, quiet room in a corner away from all of humanity?

Post Script: OOPS! I screwed up the trigger warning…I guess that should have been at the top of this post.

P.P.S. (Post post script?) I don’t really care about this topic. It was just something to write about and maybe would generate some conversation somewhere, maybe. Again, maybe I am naive. Oh well…