Returning to an alternate universe

After a week of vacation — during which time I read/saw/heard very little news — I sat down at my computer this morning to catch up on what’s been happening in the world.

 

As I was reading a story about Saturday’s elections on vice.com, I noticed the writer was referring to Donald Trump as “Donald Drumpf” — but with no quotes around the name and no explanation why. Weird. I assumed either the site got hacked or a rogue Trump-hating (soon-to-be-ex-) employee had gone into the content management system and changed the name.

 

A few minutes later, I was on the New York Times website — and a story there also referred to Trump as “Drumpf”— again no quotes, no explanation. WTF???

I went on cnn.com. Drumpf references there too. NBC, CBS, vox, Washington Post. Drumpf, Drumpf, Drumpf, Drumpf.

At this point, I was pretty sure that either (A) Karl Rove had taken over the entire internet or (B) I had returned from vacation to some kind of Parallel Universe where everything was EXACTLY the same — except for Donald Trump’s name.

Hoping to get to the bottom of the mystery, I Googled “Donald Drumpf” and discovered what the rest of the world knew a week ago: that Jon Oliver had done a segment on Trump in which he pointed out that the family’s original name was Drumpf. But it still didn’t explain why all of these normally credible websites were changing his name back to the original German form.

So I watched the “Last Week Tonight” segment. About 20 minutes in, Oliver announced he had created a website — donaldjdrumpf.com — where you could download a Chrome extension that would automatically change all references of “Trump” to “Drumpf” in the browser.

 

Finally, a light went on. My son was home from college last weekend, and he knows my top-secret computer passwords. Or at least he used to.

Blundering into the blog world

After years of procrastination and false starts, I finally (and very tremulously) pushed the “publish” button on Blogger for the first time on Jan. 1.

Six months and 38 posts later, blogging is still an unfolding mystery to me, but I have learned a lot. Mainly I’ve learned what not to do.

In the interest of full disclosure, here are my top five blogging don’ts:

1. Don’t be afraid. For years, I kept a very low profile online for a variety of reasons. Mostly because I was afraid to put myself out there and say something stupid, which would cause people to laugh at me, which would lead to my stupidity going viral, which would result in my boss seeing the questionable post, which would mean I would get fired, which would cause me to be disbarred (even though I am not now, nor have I ever been, a practicing attorney), which would get me blacklisted from every job at every company in North America, which would result in me not being able to pay my bills, which would lead to me losing my home.

I had built up this complex Rube Goldberg Machine of Doom in my head that was hard to get past. But gradually I’ve learned to put my fear in perspective. I’m writing about newspaper chickens and thrift store makeovers, after all, not sharing government secrets and atomic bomb recipes. My posts might be stupid, but (at least so far) they have not led to disbarment, unemployment or homelessness.

2. Don’t blog while sleepy. Regardless of how badly I want to get a post finished before bedtime, if I’m nodding off at the keyboard, I have to call it a night.

If I try to push through, mistakes are made (whoops: 2,015 minus 1,848 does not equal 158), I write things I regret (and end up deleting the next morning, and no, I’m not going to re-mention them here) and on at least one occasion I accidentally pushed the “publish” button when I meant to push the “save” button. Those two buttons do quite different things. Why Blogger puts them right next to each other is a serious design flaw, in my humble opinion.

3. Don’t write posts that require me to do math. Sure, one subtraction error I can pass off as a “but-I-was-tired” mistake. More than that, people might start to notice a pattern.

Math has always been a problem for me. Even in the 8th grade school spelling bee, when I was one of the final 10 kids left standing and was so close to moving on to the regional bee I could taste it, what was the word I went out on? Mathematics. Seriously, it’s spelled with an “e” in the middle. It’s pronounced “math-a-matics.” Why on earth would you put an “e” in there instead of an “a”? Just another reason to hate math in my book.

4. Don’t worry about what people who know me in “real life” think about my blog. Or my hoarding tendencies. Or my “pathetic attempts at humor.” Or my penchant for writing in sentence fragments.
I like what I like. If you don’t like it, don’t read my blog. And if you’re going to hate-read my blog, that says more about your pettiness than my peccadilloes.

As a wise woman once said, “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” And, yes, I just called Taylor Swift a “wise woman.” Deal with it.


5. Don’t get hung up on statistics. My blog is my hobby. I have no advertisers or sponsors, and I make no money on it. I’m OK with that. In fact, I’m more than OK with that. Being ad-free and sponsor-free means I am beholden to no one. I can write what I want when I want. And I like being one of the “little guys,” a David amongst the Goliaths.

But still. I find myself checking Blogger’s statistics occasionally. Sometimes even obsessively. And I can’t help getting a bit of a thrill over a slight bump in the numbers and trying to figure out why. (Did I write the perfect SEO headline? Was I featured on one of the bigger blogs I had linked to? Was my post just that good, that the world suddenly decided to beat a path to my blog’s door?)

The reality is, when I have a spike (300 pageviews in one day!!!), usually at least half of the visits are from bots. And I’m guessing none of them are checking out my site for my how-to’s or my half-baked humor.


So that’s what I’ve learned about blogging in six months. I could write volumes about what I don’t know yet. And someday I probably will. But it’s getting late and I’m getting sleepy, so I’m going to call this post done before I write something I regret.

**This post was updated the morning after it was originally posted to correctly identify music superstar Taylor Swift. The original post erroneously referred to her to as Taylor Smith. My apologies to Ms. Swift. I’m sure her reputation will recover. I wish I could say the same about my own.