20 Days of NaBloPoMo 2015

Well, I dropped out of the 30-day blogging challenge after 20 days. Ironically, I think part of the problem was that I tried to get ahead. Most days I would write a post in the evening, either just after the kid went to bed or just before I did. On day 20, I posted at lunch. That broke my routine, and I forgot to post the next evening.


I finished a few posts I’ve been working on for a while, so that worked out. There were several things I noticed that turned into what I hope made interesting commentary. That’s two wins. But then there were the days of filler, too. It’s not like I need to keep “I hate the 405” on its own page, after all. (Besides, that’s a given.)

Things I Learned

I really don’t like writing about current events or politics these days. On Friday the 13th, I couldn’t think of anything else to write about, but couldn’t start. I ended up reading Tumblr for some idea to jump off of, and found the Epi-Pen infographic. Then I went a whole week deliberately not writing about Paris, Beirut, or refugees.

If I wanted to keep the volume up without regard to focus, I think up plenty of ideas during the course of a day. I just have to (1) write down the topic so I remember and (2) find the time/inclination/brainpower to do the writing.

I wrote more about my kid than I expected. Probably more than I’ve written publicly in quite a while. This isn’t a parenting blog by a long shot, but in addition to costuming and art, I used several family conversations as jumping off points.

When I obsessively listen to a show for a week, I come up with lots of things I’d like to write about it. I followed Chess with a Les Misérables binge, and now I’ve got about five Les Mis-related topics on my list.

If you can’t think of anything to write about, ask your spouse for a topic.

I’m actually more comfortable sitting on the couch and writing on my tablet than firing up my computer and sitting at my desk. That surprised me, but the Galaxy Tab S2 is sooooo much faster than the Nexus 7 it’s ridiculous. And hey, couch!


6 Random observations.
4 Amusing photos that fit within one of the site’s long-running categories.
3 Articles I’ve been working on for a while and finally got around to finishing.
3 Follow-ups to older posts or series.
2 Reaction pieces.
1 Interesting photo that I cross-posted from Instagram/Flickr to satisfy the goal.
1 Total filler that I would delete if it weren’t for keeping a record of how far I got in the challenge.


  1. Mixed Emotions/Halloween/Comikaze
  2. Fruit Basket Case
  3. So Much for SudaSudafed
  4. I “Liked” Twitter Favorites
  5. Phone vs. Camera
  6. WiFi is the New Color TV
  7. Gloom ahead, blue sky behind
  8. So that’s where Vaporware comes from!
  9. Aaaargh!
  10. Genre TV Update
  11. Chess (Musical)
  12. Les Mis/Chess: Cosette vs. Florence (and Eponine)
  13. Epi-Pen How-To
  14. Symbolic Costuming: Stage vs. Screen
  15. Coin Slot For Your Cell Phone
  17. Panorama Fail: Chalk Edition
  18. Is the ransom note look obsolete?
  19. Too Many Notifications
  20. Oddly Specific Advertising

Tablet Blogging is Actually Convenient!

For short posts, I’m actually more comfortable sitting on the couch and writing on my tablet than firing up my computer and sitting at my desk. This is something I discovered during NaBloPoMo. My workflow typically went like this:

  1. Write the post in the WordPress App.
  2. Set categories/tags and upload as a draft.
  3. Switch over to the admin interface to finalize and post: customize the URL, description, share options, etc.

What would send me to the computer are the things that are difficult to do on a tablet:

  • Layout and formatting.
  • Linking to other posts & sources.
  • Major editing.
  • Image size and filenames. Even if I use a file manager on my phone to rename the image, the WordPress app is going to change it on upload to something like wpid-123456789

I’m not sure how much of that is the couch and how much of that is the fact that I’ve been putting off upgrading my home computer in favor of the devices I use more often. I finally replaced the ancient Nexus 7 with a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 a few months ago. (It’s awesome!) It’s FAR more responsive (the Nexus 7 was basically a proof of concept, and doesnt deal with modern software very well), so I can actually use it for stuff.

Plus it turns out even at 8″, a 4:3 screen has a much better balance of onscreen keyboard and text area than the 8:5 screen did. Being able to see more of your document, even a little, has a surprising impact on how comfortable it is to write it.

Too Many Notifications

The thing that takes me longest to set up on a new phone is the notification settings. It’s configured in each app individually, and it seems like everyone wants to get your attention.

Too many notifications end up one of two ways: tuned out so you don’t notice the important ones, or so much of a distraction that you can’t focus on anything. There are studies showing how long it takes to get your train of thought back after interruptions.

I pare audio alerts down to calls, text messages, and work-related IMs. Then I set custom alert tones for each and for specific phone numbers, so I know instantly which it is. (Assuming of course I remembered to turn on the sound, and it’s not drowned out by ambient noise.) Unfortunately every new phone or OS comes with a different set of alert tones, so it’s a pain to either transfer over the old tones or get used to the new ones.

I have silent email alerts. Social media, but only some sites and only replies or mentions that I might be expected to react to. (Not Facebook, though.) Sure, I want to know if someone’s commented on one of my photos or posts, but I don’t need it to break my concentration. I don’t need an alert for every new post on some site, or every new follower, or some auto-generated roundup.

And it takes me forever to find all those settings, turn off everything else, and change the audio for what’s left. Sometimes it’s several days before something pipes up the first time. I suspect I’m not done yet.

As much as we make all these things interactive, they’re still asynchronous. Except for calls and active chat conversations, I’m better off checking in on email or Twitter or Facebook on my own schedule, not when I’m in the middle of something else.

I can distract myself just fine. I don’t need my phone to do it for me.

Is the ransom note look obsolete?

I remember countless mystery movies, TV shows, comics and stories where a kidnapper or other extortionist of some sort sent a ransom note using letters or words cut from multiple newspapers and magazines to defeat handwriting analysis and prevent matching the quirks of individual typewriters. The jumble of different fonts made for a distinctive look.

I have no idea how common the tactic ever was in reality, but it’s got to be obsolete twice over. Laser printers pretty much wipe out the quirks of both handwriting and typewriter key alignment. And of course now you can send an anonymous email over a proxy, with no handwriting, fonts, or other signifiers other than those for the proxy itself.

Chalk up another trope made obsolete by technology.