A VERY belated late New Year’s Eve blog-day.

As this post goes up, it has been nine days since the normal birth date of Da Blog on the 22nd. For many if not most of you, it’s 2020 already. This on the heels of last year’s blog-day post coming a few days late on Christmas Eve. Missing the mark by well over a week is breaching new frontiers even by my standards.

In a way, this is appropriate for what a wasted year this has been for me and for Da Blog. I said at the time that the 36 posts I made in 2017 was a record low unlikely to be broken, but this being the 27th post since the last blog-day post is a record that might not be possible to break without giving up on the Flex Schedule Watch or having a post every month (the latter of which is quite possible – Da Blog Poll is still open!), considering there was arguably a grand total of two months prior to the start of football season in September where I made any posts other than posts that simply serve the purpose of having a post every month.

In the case of this post, I’ve been in Seattle for the last ten days or so and have been content to spend my time relaxing and picking up work on one of my many personal projects that means nothing (well, almost nothing) to anyone other than me, and even the relatively low levels of engagement required to write the blog-day post has proven too daunting for me to try and tackle. For the year, a lot of my attention has been gobbled up by mobile games and various other things, as well as dealing with wildly off-track sleep schedules. Various projects I’ve been meaning to get to have continued to be put on the back burner; I have every intention to get to them in 2020, but then I say that every year. Certainly I want to get back to the state of our broken politics before the end of the impeachment trial, certainly before the election gets too much into high gear, and I’d like to get back to Steven Universe before it leaves Hulu for HBO Max, if that’s still possible. I’d also like, if not need, to engage in projects and programs that could actually make money for me on a regular basis. But of course, I said many of the same things in last year’s blog-day post as well.

In retrospect, perhaps it’s appropriate that Year Thirteen in the history of Da Blog would be such a wasted year even by the standards of my recent wasted years, but coupled with the dark tone I struck at the end of the last blog-day post even as I attempted to be optimistic about my future, it’s fair to wonder if I have the ability to achieve my dreams at all anymore. (My ongoing depression about the Trump era and the likelihood that we’ve already crossed the point of no return when it comes to global warming doesn’t help, of course.) Still, I take heart that the blog-day post I ended last decade with, when my productivity with Da Blog was much higher (the following year seems to have been the first one where I wrote less than 100 posts), evoked many of the same issues I struggle with today, even if they were nowhere near as bad as they are now. It’s at least possible that with the shedding of the unlucky number 13, I’ve passed through the nadir of my recent spell of unproductivity, and Year Fourteen will see me begin to climb out of it with the long-awaited completion, or at least work on, some long-simmering projects, as well as my attempt to find my identity in the new decade given my struggles with finding the brainpower to complete my goals even without the demands of schoolwork.

I actually accomplished something this month!

I updated my NFL Flexible Scheduling Primer page for the new season!

What do you mean I only did it over the course of the last hour if not half-hour of the month and I still may make some further edits at some point?

I really do think I’m going to get back into Steven Universe this week, if only because Cartoon Network is airing a marathon of every episode leading up to the movovie this weekend, even though I have to wake up at 8:30 to catch one of the episodes that’s been holding me back from finishing my Season 2 recap post.

Ugh.

I said last month would be the last streak-filler post and I had two or three different ideas for substantive posts this month, and none of them panned out. I still intend to get back to Steven Universe┬áin August, but I’m also finding one of the mobile games I’m playing may have just become even more of a drag on my time. So I’m going ahead and running a new Da Blog Poll until at least the end of February to see if I really need to continue the streak of monthly posts outside of football season, or if I’m the only one who cares about that.

Last streak-filler post I promise!

Right now I fully intend to jump back into Steven Universe in July – I might end up putting it off until August but that would start to impinge on football season and I’d like to stop feeling useless as soon as possible – so this should be the last post that just serves the purpose of making sure I have a post every month at least until February, but man, I’ve just been doing the bare minimum of posting in the first half of 2019. I’ve actually started to run out of things to say in these posts. If I’m still struggling to maintain posting every month when I don’t have something like the Flex Schedule Watch to make it automatic I may just ask whether anyone other than me even cares that I have a post every month. At this point, if I do become more active with Da Blog again it’ll be like I have two periods of prominence in the history of Da Blog, the period before 2016, and whatever period starts up again after.

Da Blog: Still, evidently, a vast wasteland

Back in February I listed a number of things I wished to do with Da Blog over the next month or two, none of which actually panned out. Many of those ideas and several others besides remain backed up for me to attempt to do in the coming months. With the release of the Mueller Report it hasn’t been timelier for me to work on my series on fixing the Constitution since the election, but until earlier this week I spent more of my time working on notes for a project that may or may not turn into another book or some other project that gets put up somewhere, notes I originally intended to work on after my Constitution series but which I find easier to engage with. It’s easier to immerse myself in a fantasy world than the real world that seems to be circling the abyss.

At this point I likely won’t pick up Steven Universe again until July, partly because I’m facing a monetary crunch with renewals for my website hosting and domain name coming up this month, partly because I got sick earlier this week which made that crunch worse as I loaded up on medicine and other things. There’s a slight chance the site will go down briefly in about two weeks, but I doubt it and I’m trying to spend the rest of the month in more of a savings mode. The site already went down earlier in the month after something broke without me changing anything, and that coupled with how the issue got resolved made me a little antsy about signing up with A2 again, but I don’t think there’s anything too serious that would lead me to abandon the status quo.

Read moreDa Blog: Still, evidently, a vast wasteland

Quick update

I had a few ideas for posts this month, but none of them really panned out, and so not much has changed from my last post, aside from the fact that I’m obviously not doing any March Madness posts. I promise that in April I’ll have something that isn’t just an “update” post or a post I’d have done anyway. Possibly as soon as this week, even.

Status update

I have a number of posts I’ve been thinking of working on, but due to various distractions (it’s been what, over seven months since I got a new phone? and the games I installed as a result are still derailing my productivity) and other factors haven’t actually been working on this month:

  • I may be working on a post on the Oscars (that I really should have written earlier this week) that would allow me to start up on my series on how to fix the American political system again. Regardless of whether I write that post, I really should be working on that series again soon. And yes, there is a connection between the Oscars and the American political system.
  • I have one or two post ideas in connection with March Madness that may come out over the next month, though one of them would require intense use of Da Blog Poll and, based on past experience, would be kinda useless if I don’t have a sizable audience coming in to vote on it. The other I kinda regret not writing last year and may not be relevant this year.
  • There were several points in December and January that I came very close to starting up Steven Universe again, especially with another batch of episodes coming out in that time to end the fifth season (and based on what limited spoilers I’ve been exposed to, the overarching plot of the whole series), but at this point I’m not likely to take it up again until June, assuming I can sign up for another Hulu free trial after one year has elapsed since the first one.

I also may look into other platforms to write for sometime in the next few months.

A belated late Christmas Eve blog-day.

I headed into writing this post thinking that this was the most productive year for Da Blog in the last few years, even if it was hardly the improvement I would have hoped for a year ago. I spent a significant amount of time on a project other than the Flex Scheduling Watch that produced several posts, changed hosting providers, and changed the design of Da Blog for the first time in a decade or more. So I was surprised to find that this is only the 37th post since the last blog-day post, only one more than last year.

To be sure, of the three things I accomplished this year only one actually produced a substantial number of posts, and that thing ended up falling far short of my expectations. That had the effect of only keeping pace with the handful of posts on the state of our politics I was able to get in between the blog-day post two years ago and the inauguration. Were it not for my Steven Universe posts I might well have broken what I thought at the time was an unbreakable record low.

The Steven Universe project did give me a chance to learn some things about myself and my productivity. It made me realize just how much brainpower I needed to bear on any truly in-depth, thoughtful posts, and how little I tended to have, to the point of needing to load up on protein bars before working on them. But despite having done everything I needed to to put up my Season 2 wrap-up post by mid-to-late August, I haven’t done any more work on it since that post at the end of August, spending most of my time not spent on the Flex Schedule Watch on all the more frivolous projects, and despite intending to get back to it this month, with SU resuming new episodes (including what at least nominally would be the start of a sixth season given previously known information) starting tonight as I write this, I never did, instead spending all my time before flying up to Seattle on something highly tangential to a project I’ve been thinking about since the election but that looks to be unlikely to start serious work on in the coming year, something tangential enough that it’s highly unlikely it’ll ever come up in that project.

Another reason I let SU go by the wayside this month, besides December increasingly becoming one of the more stressful months for the Flex Schedule Watch as I try to play out the Week 17 scenarios (my new method of preparing the Week 14 post involves figuring out every single scenario that would lead to a given game, same as the following week, and I think I still missed several scenarios that might have affected the percentage chances, including the one that actually played out, while appealing to my commenters’ out-there “two NBC games” theory delayed the Week 15 post until it not only forced the postponement of this one but came after Saturday’s games), was finding out that Season 5 episodes wouldn’t leave my cable provider’s On Demand service until March, relieving the pressure of having to finish them before Season 6 started. Still, with the Flex Schedule Watch done for the season, I fully intend to get back to SU in the new year, though getting back in the right mindset for it could be a bit of a challenge since it’s been so long since I watched any episodes. And I hope to finally get back to work on my series on reforming the Constitution in time for any debates surrounding the Mueller report and impeachment.

Despite the challenges, I have every reason to think Year Twelve of Da Blog succeeded in establishing a foundation that will allow Year Thirteen to be the lucky year that puts me back on a path to productivity and making a place in the world. Will Year Twelve be the last of the past few years of “lost” years? Time will tell, but despite the optimism I’ve expressed in the last few blog-day posts, I really do feel like this has a good chance to be the year that turns things around… though it’s worth noting I may have also lowered my expectations for what that means, fully preparing for the possibility of taking a few months “off” between projects to rest my brain. Here’s hoping that doesn’t completely derail my progress. Fingers crossed? (Wow, I did not intend to end this post on this dark a note…)

The Hunt for a New Blog Theme, Take Two

So over the weekend I discovered that, on the theme I adopted for the Sports subsite last week, there will be times when a post will load without a scroll bar, or any way to scroll at all, cutting off a good chunk of content and the entire comment section. Since the comments are the whole reason I’m looking for a new theme to begin with, I had to find another new theme.

Right now I’ve switched to the GeneratePress theme, and because all the theme switching has been wrecking havoc on my sidebars (Da Countdown has been removed until further notice), I’m adopting the theme for the whole site. Everything seems okay at the moment, but a potential concern is that the team logos on my SNF Flex Schedule Watch intro post appear full size, I’m guessing because I don’t use WordPress’ “official” means for defining image size (that or the theme just mangled the HTML – GeneratePress has a lot of fancy features, including what appears to be something intended to allow WordPress to mimic Tumblr, and I had to redo some of the formatting for last night’s Last-Minute Remarks post). So I’m going to have to figure out how to get images to appear at the size I want in the way that I want, and it’s possible I’m going to end up switching to another new theme.

Update on site design

A few months ago, I posted some musings about the state of web design and about the potential for changing how my site looks. That prospect just got a lot more urgent, because this week, as I was preparing for the start of the new season of the Flex Schedule Watch, I found out that comments aren’t displaying properly. The line indicating how many comments there were would show up, and even the start of the bullet point for the first comment, but not the actual comments – and neither would the comment form, nor even either sidebar. For some reason, everything after the start of the first comment would be gone. I have no idea when this started, whether it has to do with the move to the new host or adding Google ads or something else, only that turning off Google’s “auto ads” feature didn’t work, updating WordPress and my theme didn’t work, and copying over relevant files from more modern WordPress themes didn’t work when they didn’t make things worse.

Since I didn’t get any help from the WordPress support forum, I may not have much choice but to update my theme. But as if to reinforce the point from my earlier post, I’m not impressed by the themes available in the WordPress gallery; it seems like most themes I can find there, or at least the most popular themes, are geared towards full-fledged web sites, often for businesses or outfits that fancy themselves professional publishing operations. There are vanishingly few themes for old-fashioned, reverse-chronological blogs like mine, and what ones exist often present their posts as a few lines of unformatted text (many of them even display shortcodes that aren’t supposed to be publicly visible in WordPress’ official theme preview) leading up to a read-more, at least by default. (The irony of course being that when I started the site, I intended for it to eventually become a full-fledged web site rather than just a host for Da Blog, but the way I use formatting and read-mores, especially for my Steven Universe posts, is at this point something I’m unwilling to sacrifice.)

The Sandbox theme that I used as the base for the theme I use now stopped being actively updated around 2009 or so, because the functions the creator saw as the “heart and soul” of the theme were integrated into the core WordPress code. The problem is that what appealed to me about the Sandbox was the ability to greatly customize the look and feel of the site with little more than some relatively simple CSS, or at least simple enough that a novice coder like me could pull it off. I don’t know what theme out there would offer that level of flexibility that would allow me to recreate the site as something even close to what it is now, and chances are I’d have to do a considerable amount of re-coding no matter what. This is especially the case since most of the customization tools that may once have required meddling in CSS now have a dedicated area in the WordPress theme manager, and it feels like there’s less support for using CSS to achieve the same result; it may well be that I find myself having to work within the constraints of whatever theme I settle upon, with less ability to customize beyond that (especially with the emphasis on mobile design that wasn’t a priority for me back c. 2008, and especially since the way I use my header image and graphically integrate it with the left sidebar is arguably decidedly nonstandard as it is). I may well end up deciding to “fix” the problem by installing something like Disqus to handle my comments, which would leave all past comments to fall into the ether, accessible only by me through the site backend – assuming I stay with WordPress at all.

For the time being, until I can bring myself to dedicate a considerable amount of time and mental energy to bear on finding a permanent solution, I’m leaving things as they are and comments will remain borked on most of the site. However, since the Flex Schedule Watch is about to start up again, and it’s not only the most (i.e., only) popular part of the site but attracts a considerable number of comments, the Sports section of the site (only) will be using a different theme until further notice, which may or may not become the base for whatever theme I end up adopting for the rest of the site. This is likely to make navigation more difficult there (as the customization I applied seemed to disappear once I turned off its being the theme for the site as a whole, aside from a bunch of duplicated elements on the left sidebar on the main site left over from my attempt to make the two-column format work for my purposes), but it should at least allow the discussion surrounding the flex schedule watch to continue. (I’ve also turned “auto ads” back on so the sports section has any ads at all.) Any advice on how to resolve the situation can be tweeted to me or left on the Flex Schedule Watch introductory post that should be up sometime on Monday.