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Burning blog questions. January 23, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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What bothers bloggers most (besides spam)? Today, our friend Ben discovered two questions filtered out as spam by Poor Richard’s Almanac’s excellent spam filter, Akismet, lurking among this morning’s 21 spam comments, that I thought were legitimate. (I force myself to spin down the filtered spam comments every day just in case one happens not to be spam. This has only happened about five times, but still.)

The two comments were probably rote responses like most of the other spam. But they both bring up valid points, points that actually relate to the blogging experience and are worth answering.

The first comment asked about how we protected our content. The person asking said that he blogged and had been discovering his content copied (without his permission) all over the internet. I’m sure he’s not the only person who’s had this experience!

Here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, we make minimal effort to protect our content because it’s so quirky, diverse and personal that we can’t imagine anybody bothering to steal it. The one thing we do is to make sure that if some other blog or website wants to use our content on their site via a pingback, that the blog or website really does link back to us. Otherwise, we delete them.

However, Silence Dogood maintains a separate blog with very serious, original content that she feels passionately about. On this blog, she ends every post with a copyright notice: “Copyright [copyright symbol] [name of blog owner]. All rights reserved.”

By saying this, Silence isn’t implying that nobody can use her content on their own blogs or websites; she’s simply saying that they must ask her permission first, give her full credit, and link to her blog. And of course simply posting a copyright notice won’t keep unscrupulous people from stealing your content anyway. But it does give you legal grounds for redress.

The second question was different but equally valid: How did we get ourselves into the appropriate mental state to write our blog? The questioner was having trouble motivating himself to write and asked how we managed it. It’s a simple question with a world of complex answers.

The answer that springs first to mind for me and Silence is that we’re not morning people, yet we’re often up by 5 a.m. Writing our blog posts gives us a quiet, peaceful way to activate our brains and transition into our day. It’s a great discpline for two professional writers and editors, to compose an essay first thing every morning. We love it.

Another answer is that, in this out-of-control, crazy, hectic, overburdened life we all seem to lead, blogging is something that’s completely under our control. We decide when and what to post. We decide what we want to say, and how we want to say it. What a refreshing escape from having the boss or some pathetic committee or a bunch of lawyers or marketers telling you what to write or do and how to write or do it! Not to mention how long you’re going to be doing it. A blog has no deadlines, unlike most of life. You set your own deadlines, and if you don’t stick to them, no worries: This is YOUR blog, and you’re the master of it.

And there’s another answer, one that we love: Writing a blog puts you in touch with people you’d never otherwise meet. We love getting comments and queries from readers. We love the interaction. We love that the comments come from all over the world. This is the ultimate benefit of blogging, far beyond simply having a forum to express yourself: connection. It’s a gift, beyond anything the world has known before. To turn on your laptop and see that someone worlds away has not just read your post but taken the time to react to it is beyond awesome: It is humbling. It is wonderful. It should give us all hope.

Best of the week at PRA, June 7-13 June 13, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in chickens, critters, gardening, homesteading.
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Here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, we’ve taken to choosing our own favorite posts from the many we’ve written over the preceding week. We figure it helps you to spend time wisely, choosing posts that sound interesting, and it helps us promote posts we think are worth reading. You can find the posts we highlight every week by scrolling down or by typing in the post title in our search bar at upper right. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them!

This week’s top posts include:

Cinderella seeks Prince Charming: Our milkweeds are blooming, but where are the monarch butterflies?

Our national treasure: We take a virtual tour of our National Parks.

Partnering with nature: Some people spend fortunes trying to meditate, reconnect with nature, or ascend the spiritual path. We think gardeners are already there.

Eggzactly what do you mean?! Silence Dogood takes on factory farming and self-promoting authors in a post that’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

Best of the week at PRA, May 31-June 6 June 7, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, we’ve taken to picking our own favorite posts from the past week and listing them here, so if you’ve missed something intriguing, it will be easy for you to find it by scrolling down or simply entering the post’s title in our search bar at upper right. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we’ve enjoyed writing them!

This week’s picks:

Rabid for radishes: Silence Dogood shares some great links to radish recipes and encourages everyone to try pickled radishes.

In praise of privet: Our friend Ben tells everyone why you should love this humble and abused shrub.

Persimmon surprise: OFB sees beautiful persimmon blooms for the first time.

Vegetarian cookbook roundup: Silence shares three of the latest additions to her cookbook collection and tells why you might want to add them to your own cookbook shelf.

Which monarchs do you love to hate? Richard Saunders responds to a reader query with a list of the all-time worst, and invites you to add your own favorite baddies.

We know not what we do. July 18, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Fellow bloggers, be advised by me. Just days ago, our friend Ben wrote a post for Poor Richard’s Almanac called “The lawn police.” Today, having at last finished a project that had been threatening to finish me for months, I decided to celebrate by going with our heat-seeking friend and fellow blog contributor Richard Saunders to that haven of habaneros and all hot peppers, Jim Weaver’s Meadow View Farm in scenic Bowers, PA.

If this seems like an odd way to celebrate surviving another death-dealing deadline, it felt like the least I could do, given that Richard had managed at last to actually contribute a post of his own to the blog this morning, “The other Roosevelt,” about Teddy Roosevelt. Now, Richard claims to admire our 26th president, and while I have no reason to doubt him, I can’t help but feel that some of the inspiration for today’s post might have been the 50-plus sarcastic phone calls and e-mails he received from (the otherwise, of course, angelic) Silence Dogood on the topic of his non-posts. 

But I, ah, digress. What happened was this: Richard came over to our friend Ben and Silence’s country abode, Hawk’s Haven, and we set off cross-country on the obscure little road that connects Hawk’s Haven to Bowers. En route, we passed a house that had been the chief subject of my post, “The lawn police.” I had lamented the fact that while, year after year, the homeowners worked really hard to beautify the property and the front of their home, they left unsightly, peeling tarpaper on each gable end of the house, presumably while waiting for a never-arriving day when they’d add windows and finish the second floor. Of course, the tarpaper completely spoiled the appearance of their home and property. Our friend Ben felt that surely they could tack up some more vinyl siding until such time as they finished the house, if ever, and I said so in the post.

So imagine my astonishment, after some seven years of watching the peeling tarpaper, as I drove by this afternoon, three days after my post, and there was the tacked-up siding. As I stared dumbfounded, Richard blurted out, “Why, they must have read the blog!”

Hard to believe as it must sometimes seem, our friend Ben is aware that all sentient beings on earth do not spend their every waking hour poring over this blog. In fact, I realize that all sentient beings within a five-mile radius of Hawk’s Haven do not spend their every waking hour, or so much as a semiconscious second, reading this blog. The timing of the siding’s appearance was almost certainly a coincidence.

Almost certainly, but not absolutely certainly. In the instant of seeing the new siding, our friend Ben was struck by the realization that, unlike in space, in the blogosphere, people can hear you scream. And your screaming may have repercussions. Perhaps those homeowners didn’t read my post. But what if Mr. Homeowner’s great-aunt Matilda or nosy neighbor Marvin did read the post, recognized the description, then called up Mr. H. and shouted “Homer! I’ve been telling you and telling you to fix that frickin’ house! Now somebody’s written about what an eyesore it is on the internet! Everybody knows!!!” 

In the case of the peeling tarpaper, if our friend Ben contributed in any small way to getting the homeowners to clean up their act, perhaps it was for the best. Certainly their neighbors and all passersby would thank me. All I’d like to say is that our words can have outcomes, for good or ill, that we never can foresee. We write our posts, alone at our screens, in love or haste. We send them out into the world to inspire or amuse, and, if we’re lucky, they find their own wings. Sometimes, those wings carry them to other continents. Sometimes, they carry them next door. But wherever they fly, wherever they land, we hope they settle gently.

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