Tag Archive: blogging

Taking a Break


Gulf and Public Telephone

I’ve been taking time to deal with several household and family matters lately, so updates here have been sparse. Doesn’t look like that trend will change over the next week or so, so here are a couple of quick teasers.

First up, a couple of weeks ago I had to put my car into the shop. When it was ready I decided to walk to pick it up – 4.5 miles along some of Greenville’s busiest roads. It was an interesting experience. Of course I had my camera with me. I was working on a detailed blog post with descriptions of each shot, but kept getting interrupted, then lost interest. Here’s a slide show from that trip on November 5th…

Last week we paid another visit to the Pickens Flea Market. The only camera I used was my discreet GoPro. I managed to get quite a few shots. Here’s that slideshow…

Thanksgiving holidays will be tie up with travel and other family affairs, but I’m hoping to get in at least a little kayaking and photography. We’ll see.

Sprucing up the Joint


Every now and then you need to toss a new coat of paint on the place.  It’s no different with blogs.  They can get stale after awhile and need a bit of updating.  I figured that a ten-year anniversary was as good a time as any to change things up here.

I’ve switched over to the Meadow Hill template for WordPress by Tomas Toman.  It’s a flexible format that looks great whether your accessing the site from a desktop or mobile device.  I’ve also added a whole bunch of background header images that rotate randomly upon reload.

The side widgets are still there, but don’t appear until you click on one of the “Read More” buttons to view the entire article.  Then you’ll see the “Recent Visitors”, “Recent Tweets”, the search box, and any other goodies.

I had a couple of requirements for the new appearance.  First, the fonts needed to be more adjustable and have a bit more space than my old theme.  The site was hard to read.  I probably could have gone into the CSS for the site and changed it myself, but why bother.  This one has about the same size font, but is double-spaced for easier reading.  I may bump up the font size at some time.

Secondly, the site needed to be able to display lead images without those hateful “Featured Images” that WordPress uses.  The latest version of WordPress did allow designation of a featured image by URL, but to get it to work with Flickr required too many hoops.

So, this is what we have now.  I think I’ll live with it for awhile and see if I like it.  If you follow the site via RSS feed or some other reader you probably won’t see any difference.  However, if you actually visit the site you’ll spot the new look right away.

Ten Years of Random Connections



It hardly seems possible. This month marks ten years that I’ve been blogging at RandomConnections.com. The new website was announced on May 6, 2004 on a post on my previous website as follows:

I have a new website….

www.RandomConnections.com will be online shortly. The new site will be the host for my web log (which will be replicated here, as it always has) but I wanted something without my name plastered all over the place. I’ll move my workshop information to the new site, and leave all my personal stuff here – resume, personal interests, etc., etc. The only personal item on the new site will be the blog.

With the new site in place, I’ll be able to create blog entries for specific categories, probably one for each of my alter egos that I use on various bulletin boards. I’m also going to post our travelog and vacation gallery there.

I love the Internet! Instead of boring just one small set of humans with your vacation pictures, you can annoy the entire planet!

The first post on the actual site was on May 14, and went something like this

The new website is now active (Duh, obviously). This site features a much more interactive weblog than my old site, while keeping things lean and clean. The other site turn [sic] into self-indulgent blathering, was over-designed, and cumbersome. I make no guarantees about this site, but at least the blathering will be categorized.

I also don’t intend to plaster my name over everything on this site. Certain portions will be kept more professional, and will focus on Education Technology and Web Design.

Yes, both of those posts are still online, as evidenced by the links above.   I haven’t fulfilled the promises in those early posts, but I had no idea I’d still be doing this ten years later, or what those ten years would have brought.

New Themes and Updates


I’ve decided it’s time to throw a fresh coat of paint on this place. I’ve had the same theme on this website for several years, and I’ve been looking at some new ones. Over the next several days, if you visit the site rather than read it in an RSS reader or Flipboard or something, you may see that it looks different. It will be as if I’m trying on different outfits – some may linger for awhile, and some may be uncomfortable enough for me to take off right away.

One problem is that the fonts on the current theme seem a bit small. I’ve been looking at several that have better readability. While I’ve found several designs that I like, the biggest problem is with WordPress’s use of “featured images.” You may have noticed that I like to have one large image at the start of the blog post, and I embed smaller images throughout the post. This is to minimize the amount of scrolling one has to do (which is already quite a bit.) If you want to see a larger version of the image, all you have to do is click on it.

I started doing this long before WordPress implemented their Featured Image protocol. In WordPress, and image can be designated as the featured image, and that image will show up in a variety of formats throughout the theme that your using.

The problem is that the featured image MUST be an image uploaded to the WordPress gallery. It cannot be on another site referenced by URL. That means I can’t use any of my Flickr images as Featured Images. I would have to re-upload that image to my WordPress gallery.

I set up my Flickr account specifically to house photographs for this website ‘way back in 2006. I had been keeping my photos on the same site, but managed them through a home-grown system that used ASP and an MS-Access database. I had limited web space, so moving to Flickr let me store photos there, and just use the local space for written content. It worked quite well. Drive space is now cheap, but I write quite a bit and take lots of photos. I still think I’d run low on space locally. Even if I weren’t worried about space, I’d have to upload the images to two different locations, which would slow up my workflow.

I’m sure I’ll find something that will work. I may even just go into the CSS for the them I’m using and change the font size. How hard can it be?

Life Faster than the Documentation Thereof

Lowcountry Unfiltered on the Edisto-009

Underwater Self Portrait

It happened again. Video projects, course work, new camera gear to review, family promotions, paddling trips on the Edisto, Perseid Meteors, Segway tours, and mountain driving – life seems to be happening faster than I can tag it with a blog post. Add to that sporadic Internet access over the next several days, and it may take me a couple of weeks to catch up. I’ll post as I’m able.

Another Spam Injection Attack


Well, looks like this website has been hit by another spam injection attack. Links to stuff apparently are being added to the posts and comments in RSS feeds. So far I’ve only seen it in one post, so this posting is a test to see if it happens again.

I remember the last time this happened, a couple of years ago. It was a real pain – I basically had to rebuild the blog from scratch after I had purged the database. At least I’ll have some time to do that next week. Until then, I’ll change passwords and hope that holds off the spammers until I can take more drastic action.

The Curse of the Review



While driving down Wade Hampton Boulevard on my way home from work I noticed that one of the restaurants I had reviewed, Campobello Italian, had closed. When that happens, I usually add the phrase, “NOTE: This restaurant has closed.” to the first line of the review. So, I added it to that review, then I started looking through the rest of my reviews to see if any others needed to be update. I was a bit shocked at what I found.

Over the years I’ve reviewed about 115 different restaurants. Some of these were on trips, and were places I’d never get back to. However, most are local. If I kick out the vacation reviews, then we’re looking at about 100 local restaurant reviews. Of those, 30 had closed. (Well, 31, but Haus Edelweiss did re-open.)

So, 30% of the local restaurants I’ve reviewed have closed. Hmmmm. Does that mean a review on RandomConnections is a curse? Perhaps not. Laura reminded me that 90% of restaurants fail in the first year, so the numbers are actually not that bad. However, if you look at another recent study by Dr. H. G. Parsa at Ohio State

A 1991 study by hospitality professors at Michigan State and Cornell universities found a failure rate of 57 percent over three years and 70 percent after 10 years. Other studies have not shown restaurant failure rates any higher, Parsa said.

So, in the 10 years that I’ve been doing restaurant reviews, I should have 70 notes, rather than 30. I’ll assume that my reviews AREN’T a curse. I like to see businesses succeed (except perhaps when they shouldn’t.)

Blog Round-Up


The Death of Blogging has been touted for years now. Even the term “micro-blogging” for services such as Twitter has fallen out of favor, being replaced by “social media” and the like. Therefore, it’s very encouraging when I come across new blogs that have lots of potential. Some of these have been around and I’ve just now stumbled on them. Some are relatively new. What they have in common is that they are independent bloggers, much like myself, and are not part of some big conglomerate like the Gawker blogs or HuffPo, and they have a local flavor to them.

Screen Shot 2012-10-12 at 11.27.24 AM

First up is The Carpetbagger’s Blog. I’ve followed Jacob K’s exploits for years on Flickr. Jacob has a knack for finding those oddities that make the South what it is. As a transplant from Indiana, he has found these quirks both fascinating and endearing. Back in August he started a blog to document some of these discoveries, and to better explain some of his photos. Recent articles include a post about Harrison Mayes and the crosses that he planted all over Appalachia, a post about Confederate Flags and all the forms they can take, and a post about wrestling – not Greco-Roman, and not WWF, but the local wannabes. Jacob’s writing is insightful, and he gives lots of great information about these various subjects.

Screen Shot 2012-10-12 at 11.27.39 AM

Another long-time Flickr friend goes by the moniker Eartha Kitsch. She’s had her blog online since 2010, but I just stumbled onto the link for it from Jacob’s blog. Like Jacob, Eartha likes to take photos of the weirdness and kitschy stuff she encounters. Her Ranch Dressing blog covers some of that, but tends to be more of a personal journal.

Screen Shot 2012-10-12 at 11.28.29 AM

Nicole Livengood is a self-professed “foodie”. Her Gap Creek Gourmet blog is a blend of personal life, restaurant reviews, and other happenings around Greenville.

Of course, I would be remiss in not shouting out to fellow explorer Mark Elbrecht. Mark’s Outdoors in Upstate South Carolina blog is relatively new – about a year old. Mark and I have been on expeditions together, and often provide each other blog fodder and information about topics we happen to be researching.

Finally, I’m always glad to see that there are some of us persistent long-timers still around. This includes my friend Duck Hunter, Brian “Mr. Miata“, Brad’s Rapid Eye Reality, Eric’s A Day’s Drive from Greenville, and Laura Lew’s Specs Appeal. More power to you, guys, and don’t let anyone tell you that blogging is dead. It isn’t.

Sorry I Haven’t Posted Lately



I was looking through my news feed when I came across an item from Mental Floss about Niche Blogs. There were a few interesting ones, such as Star Trek Points at Things, The Worst Thing for Sale (with some not-safe-for-work content), and a UK blog entitled Dull News in Local Newspapers.

Star Trek Points at Things

One that especially caught my eye was the “Sorry I Haven’t Posted” blog. This guy just collects posts from other blogs where the blogger apologizes for their lack of timely posts, then goes on to describe why they haven’t posted. It is presented without editorial comment. Since I’ve had at least three of these types of posts on RandomConnections in as many months, I figured it would be appropriate to highlight here.

Here are a few excerpts here…

Oh, 8 loyal readers, I’m sorry I haven’t posted in the past few days.

I didn’t write an update about our meeting last Thursday night with the priest because I had to sort out my feelings first.

…and here…

To the one of you who reads this, sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been busy with traveling and whatnot. Will be back when I feel inspired by the web again.

…and here…

Hey sorry I haven’t posted for a long time! I’m going to post right now when I figure out where I left off.

He also links back to the original blog post. Fortunately, I haven’t seen any from this blog.

It seems there is no end to niche blogs.  Mental Floss has a whole slew of these in their archives. I think I’ll just skip most of these for now – my Google Reader is already too full. If I’m too busy to write a blog post, then I’m probably too busy to read all of these, too.



Got lots to write about, including a family wedding and trip to Virgina. I just haven’t had the energy for blogging. Right now it’s 3:00 am on the sixth night in a row with no sleep due to coughing. I’ve tried every remedy imaginable, to no avail. The doc has given me an inhaler, and I’m hoping that does some good, but I can only use it twice a day. Warm fluids seem to sooth my throat best, and I’ve even resorted to sipping warm tap water when I don’t want to fix a cup of something.

The weird thing is that the coughing has worked its way into my dreams. When I do eventually fall asleep, the coughing continues. Elaborate plots form around whether or not I stop coughing. Usually this involves two warring parties of some sort. The first time I noticed this “dream coughing” my increased coughing frequency was somehow going to lead to the apocalypse.

The dream conflict often resolves during a coughing lull or at a peak. There is a sense with the dream resolution that, “There, it’s done. Now I can get some rest.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work that way, and more coughing and more weird dreams come on. I’m thinking I may take tomorrow off just to catch up on sleep, if I can.

At least the doc doesn’t thing it’s pneumonia or something else. It’s just a bad, lingering cold. Maybe one evening soon I’ll be able to slow dawn, and perhaps even sleep through the night. We’ll see.

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