Tag Archives: Blogging

Thursday evening in The LB

This evening we sallied forth across the invisible border between Long Branch (or The LB as our neighbour Kate calls it) and New Toronto to a new joint called Ember. We used to go there when it was Long Grain Pan Asian food, but that’s ancient South Etobicoke history and Ember is the new kid in town.

The attraction tonight was live music – our friend and neighbour Chris Plock was playing along with a guitar player. Chris sings and plays all the saxes and clarinet and flute. Steve on guitar also sings, and these guys sound great together. It was especially fun because some other neighbours, Kate and Leon and Jolene and Phil came too. (by the way I realized tonight that I haven’t exactly told my neighbours I’ve had this 27th Street blog going since we moved here several years ago….surprise!)

For us it had to be a short evening, both because we get up at 5:30 weekday mornings so we generally can’t stay up too late, but as well, Tuffy P still needs lots of rest – regular readers will know that a little over a month ago, she became a liver donor, donating the right lobe of her liver to help give someone who needed one to live a fighting chance. It may have been a short night out but it was a fun one.

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I’ve likely confused some readers by talking about South Etobicoke and Long Branch and New Toronto – and I didn’t even bring up Mimico. Maybe I should try to explain.

A number of years ago, Toronto was amalgamated. The area in which I live was once the Borough of Etobicoke, quite a big area on the west side of the city from the lake to Steeles Avenue on the north. Toronto proper is to the east and Mississauga is to the west. Etobicoke itself, along the lake, had three distinct “villages”, once upon a time. These were:

  • Mimico on the east – from Fleeceline Rd and Louisa St to the east to Dwight Ave to the west and north to maybe Evans Ave (?).
  • New Toronto in the middle, from Dwight to 23rd St on the west
  • And Long Branch, from 23rd St west to Etobicoke Creek in Marie Curtis Park.

At some point in the 60s, the three villages were amalgamated into Etobicoke and in 1998 Etobicoke was amalgamated into Toronto. In spite of the efforts of politicians to chunk everything together (with a promise of big savings which somehow didn’t materialize, but that’s another story), residents around here still identify as part of Etobicoke and as part of one of the three villages. We might say we live in South Etobicoke or we might say we live in Long Branch, or if we’re talking with someone who has no idea about those places, we might even say we live in Toronto.

Our neighbourhoods are unique because they border Lake Ontario on the south and they are isolated from the rest of the city by both the rail tracks and the QEW/Gardiner expressway. One of these days, I’ll devote some space to some of the history around these parts.

Tonight, Kate was saying we should do a blog called The LB (for Long Branch) all about life in The LB. That’s when I mentioned that I run the 27th Street blog. I suppose I should have spread the word about it ages ago, but I guess I figured people would find this place if they’re interested. I know there are a few lurkers out there who live in the area. I post regularly as you know, but I don’t put much effort (translate: any) into promoting this blog. Of course there’s room for more than one blog on 27th Street – or maybe I can convince Kate to make some posts on this blog! Perhaps I’ll simply send her an invitation to post here.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Instagram on 27th Street

I’ve been snapping quite a few Instagrams lately and most of these don’t make it onto blog posts. This evening I added an Instagram widget to the sidebar of my blog. You’ll see 10 thumbnails on the sidebar to the left. If you want to see any of the photos full-size, just click on any of them and you can see them on Instagram, and if you feel so inclined, you’re welcome to leave comments there or click the little heart if you just want to say, hey I like this one.

Blogroll is back

Thanks to those of you who ventured an opinion on this. I’ve brought back my blogroll. I edited it back severely and I hope that’s OK. If your blog isn’t there, it’s likely because you’re not blogging with any regularity, and if I keep a list of links I want it to be current. If your blog was there before and isn’t now, and you’re regularly blogging, drop me a note and I’ll add you back. If I don’t visit your blog, I’m not about to add it, so please don’t ask. Now that the blogroll is back, I won’t be able to resist building it up some, so expect to see some new blogs there in the coming weeks.

While I was in there messing about with the blog, I also added a header image, just for fun.

Blogroll

As regular visitors know, I had a blogroll here for years until I switched to a “shelf” format for a while, a format that did not support one. I’ve had mixed feelings about the current value of blogrolls. I find that on most blogs they are hopelessly out of date and don’t really reflect the places the blogs’ owners visit. On my own blog, when I took mine off, I had a closer look and realized that many of the blogs I linked to were no longer active. I would say disappearing blogs has been a general trend, at least among bloggers I’ve followed over the years.

Along the way I packed in the shelf format. I liked it at first but there were problems with it that turned out to outweigh the advantages – so I’ve reverted to a more standard blogging format. When I adopted the latest format, I didn’t even think about establishing a new blogroll and nobody has mentioned it to me – that is until today.

Today I received an email from a fellow who had some kind words about my blog, but who lamented the fact that I had no blogroll. He suggested I start one. Well, OK, somebody out there cares and I’m paying attention. This is what I’ll do. If I receive 8 comments on this blog (no, comments on Facebook don’t count) from (8 different) bloggers who say yay to a blogroll here on 27th Street, I’ll start one up and do my best to maintain it better than I have in the past. If not, I’ll assume there is limited value to having one and I’ll carry on without.

28,000

This blog was viewed 28,000 times in 2013. In total there have been over 118,000 views since I closed down Mister Anchovy’s and started 27th Street. Thanks very much for coming. I hope you visit again soon. Comments welcome.

 

Changed themes yet again….

I tried the Shelf experiment with this blog for a host of reasons, not the least of which was a kind of desire to break away from the way I’ve done things in the past. I had hoped that it would work very well on tablets and phones as well, and wanted to consider other devices in my choice of theme. It turned out it didn’t work so well on the iPad. For some reason on some longer posts it didn’t want to scroll.

I initially liked the way the format chunked out each post, but I confess I tired of it much quicker than I ever anticipated. And so I’m back to messing about with another theme I haven’t used before. This one is the 2014 WordPress default theme. It’s a magazine format, but for now I’m not using the featured posts but instead treating it more as a traditional blog. I like the design and I like the featured images capability and the nice large images.

I haven’t really settled on details like colour and font so you can expect I’ll try out some different ones for size in the coming days. Fortunately I have a patient and understanding little core of readers.

Now to again consider if I need a blogroll. There were almost no complaints when the previous theme eliminated it completely, and when I went back to look at my old one, I realize that it, like almost everybody’s blogroll I look at, is hopelessly out of date and full of links to blogs that are no longer active. I’m open for suggestions on this. I’ve considered creating a page with fewer links but perhaps including a little something about each of the blogs I do feature. If I do that the rule will have to be that only active blogs stay.

As usual I welcome comments on the new format. And to those who hated the previous ones but were too polite to say so, thanks.

Recommended

When I changed my blog format, I eliminated much of the stuff that was sitting on the sidebar, convinced by my blog stats that very few of my readers clicked anything on the sidebar. This of course brought out of the woodwork those folks who really liked having that material around. I’m still considering adding a page that holds a list of recommended blogs and some other side-bar like material. That way, the links will still be around for those who want it – just a click away.  If you would like to see a blogroll back, somewhere around this joint, comment and let me know.

Meanwhile, I thought I would occasionally make posts pointing to blogs I like for one reason or another. Today, I’m going feature two blogs I came across early on. Many of the bloggers I stumbled across when I first became interested in blogging have moved on to other interests. On the other hand, a handful of them, like the two I’m featuring today, are still going strong. They’re comfort food blogs for me, always there, dependable, always interesting, ever eclectic. Both these bloggers are tour guides to fascinating and unusual corners of cyberspace.

Enjoy The Presurfer and Bifurcated Rivets.

Yikes

After mulling it over for some time, I’ve made some changes to this blog. I may make more adjustments to it in the coming days. For instance I want to get my brain around what to do about a blogroll. I could create a page and make the page a menu item and maintain a list on that page. When I went through my blogroll before I made the changes, it was obvious that I hadn’t updated it in some time. There were a number of blogs on there that simply aren’t active anymore and haven’t been active for some time. Nobody has complained to me about that and I suspect nobody has noticed. I need to chew on how I’m going to approach links. One of these days I’ll get around to making a custom logo….but not today.

I hope you like the renovations.

Blogging yesterday, today and tomorrow

I was initially drawn to blogging because I was fascinated with the idea that I could quickly publish posts in my own little corner of cyber-space in a chronological format. I jumped in with the blog I called Mister Anchovy.

Later I tried an experiment in making it into more of a group blog in which a number of individuals could post. Mister Anchovy became Mister Anchovy’s. That experiment was not so successful. I think that approach can work with a group of people interested in the same topics or ideas. For instance, I can imagine a mushroom hunting blog in which several foragers post photos of their finds, stories of their adventures in the forest and so on.  Mostly people who want to do that kind of thing set up forums rather than blogs, in order to bring in a larger number of people. Those forums can become like online communities, such as the Banjo Hangout and the Wild Mushroom Hunting forum. Forums are fine, but I think blogs are more interesting. An example of a group blog that I think works very well is Garden Rant.

Somewhere along the way, blogging, which seemed early on to be mostly some variation of on-line journals, became a possible space for some people to make money. Thars gold in them thar hills. There are some very popular blogs that are full of ads, connected to online stores and so on. For me, Mister Anchovy, Mister Anchovy’s and now 27th Street have never been about making a living (although my blog does have a link to my mosaic work, which is for sale and occasionally to my paintings which also are for sale). It’s always been an expression of what is interesting me at the time. Over the years, I’ve blogged increasingly about my interests in folk music forms – from accordion music in all it’s variety and splendor to old time music and even videos of my own attempt to squeeze out or pick a few tunes.

I’ve never found a blog theme or template that fully satisfied me. Regular readers will by now be used to showing up here to find that the joint looks different from time to time. Sometimes it’s just a matter of refreshing the look, but more recently I’m finding the form to be kind of clunky.

I’ve been toying with the idea of adopting a slightly different form, more of a tumblog type approach that is a simple flow of posts. With this approach the here and now is what is important. I suppose this approach is somewhere between Twitter, which is all about this tweet now and the older blog approach in which the blog is a self-contained unit with categories and tags and side-bars and blogrolls  and whatever else.

I have a question for you. Do you care a damn what’s on the sidebar of my blog? Do you do searches? Do you look at the blog by category (I suspect I have way too many categories and might have been better served limiting them to half a dozen treated as menu items). Do you use the blog roll? I used to use blog rolls a lot. If I liked a blog, I’d investigate the blog roll and find other blogs I liked that way. I found some blogs run by people who have become good friends that way. People occasionally come to my blog because of a blog roll. For instance Gerard Vlemmings has my blog listed on the recommended blogs list on his remarkable and popular blog, The Presurfer. I’ve had many visitors over the years thanks to this listing.  Overall though, I get a lot more hits from comments I make on other blogs. People read my comment, and click the link back. Far and away though, most of the hits on this blog come from people searching for content on one subject or another.

The other format that has become more and more popular, especially with the popularity of tablets and smart phones is the magazine style responsive theme. I’ve looked at 27th Street in this kind of format, but I think it loses the regular journal-like aspect, which I still really enjoy. On a desktop you see a group of post blocks in one format or another, with various levels of fancy design. They look slick, but I haven’t found one of these formats that rings true for me, at least for my blog as it exists now. I might feel differently about this if I re-invented my blog – kind of like Dr Who morphing into a new actor.

So I’m torn. I can carry on as I’ve been carrying on. I’m happy with the community of people who visit. I find that most people who comment on my posts tend to comment on facebook (I cross-post over there most of the time), and I think I’d prefer the comments live on the blog, but that’s no big deal. My blog does not attract the scads of comments that many other blogs do in any case.  Alternatively, I can apply my 27th Street content to a new format, and if I do that, I’m leaning toward a tumblog format, perhaps like Shelf. Or perhaps I could engage a blog designer to make something specific for me. If I go this route, I would strip it bare, and eliminate the trappings of the sidebar altogether. This would really change the feel of this blog. I’m interested to know your reaction to this idea – in particular, as readers/viewers, does the sidebar matter? Does the format matter to you? I’d appreciate it if you’d weigh in on this and let me know. What do you like or hate about this blog (I have thick skin, and I won’t take it personally).

Perhaps I’m thinking about these things because my problem with the format isn’t so much the format as it is a desire to somehow reinvent what I’m doing with my blog. If that’s the case, maybe it is time to retire 27th Street and move into Son of 27th Street or whatever it might be called. A wholesale change opens up lots of new possibilities. Would I lose you? Or would you be excited to come along for the ride?

Blogging remains an activity that is still important to me. I continue to post, if not daily, close to daily. Yes I’m on Facebook but barely. It helps me keep in touch with people but on the other hand, I see blogging as more of a work in progress. It has a look, a feel, a cadence, character and so on. I haven’t fallen in love with Twitter, although for certain things, it’s fantastic – like following breaking political events for instance, or getting news as it happens. If I used a smart phone, I might find Instagram to be an interesting community, but blogging opens up so many more possibilities.

I can’t help but notice that many of the people I know through blogging are blogging much less than they used to or not at all – yet I find myself more interested than ever in continuing to explore this kind of online presence. I think there is technical pressure for blogging to change (and of course that makes the old-school blog more interesting to me). For instance, Google abandoning Reader is significant. I use the WordPress Reader now and it works fine, but at risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I feel like the form is being pushed to something that is easier to use for mass marketing. On Facebook, at every turn, you’re asked if you’d like to give up some personal information. Want to play a game, ok, here’s the rules. I keep changing my settings to “most recent” and it keeps changing it back to “top stories”. I hate the idea of Facebook telling me what I should want to look at and how I might want to look at it.

I haven’t decided where this blog is going to go or how it’s going to develop or morph or reinvent itself. I am feeling a certain restlessness that I’m sure some other bloggers can identify with. I continue to love the idea of the personal blog, and I appreciate the fact that on a few topics, people contact me with questions and so on because of what I’ve posted.

Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts about blogging and formats and themes and approaches and all that jazz. At the same time, if you’ve been saving up comments about what you like or hate about this blog, this is the time to unburden yourself. I’m not going to promise I’m going to do what you tell me I ought to do (one of the things I like about blogging is that in the end I get to decide), but I sure am going to think about what you have to say.

Weird WordPress bug action

I made a brief post on this blog – you can see it here - it’s an update about the health of our dog Ellie Mae – it showed up for a second and then disappeared. It isn’t on the blog and it isn’t in the drafts yet it exists at the permalink I pointed to. I found it because I cross-posted to Twitter at the same time and the Tweet with the link was right where it was supposed to be.

Now let’s see what happens to this post…..

ARRRRGGGHHHHH….of course! When I published this post, the last post re-emerged from the ether and appeared on the blog where it belonged. Weird.