Father Damien of Molokai

One character from history, biography, and film has always held my attention: Fr. Joseph Damien de Veuster.

Tell us about a favorite character from film, theater, or literature, with whom you’d like to have a heart-to-heart. What would you talk about?

Source: It Builds Character | The Daily Post

“Damien of Molokai” is a low budget movie about a real life priest who self-exiled himself to a leper colony to care for their souls. Lepersy was 100% deadly when diagnosed back then. To be sent to the island was to receive a death sentence. What’s more? No one could ever return to the mainland.

I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Damien. I’d love to meet with him and discuss what it was like finally choosing to go to the island and sealing his earthly fate. I’d ask him about experiences paying the sick visits. How horrible was it? How did he manage to encourage people in such a state? I know his stories or wisdom would help me be a better teacher and person in general.

4 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block as a Blogger

A lot has been written out there about what subject matter gets blog traffic and backlinks. What hasn’t been written about enough is how and where to get the inspiration to blog. That’s why I am sharing a few sources of inspiration I use.

  1. Reading other blogs. I’ve used many methods of browsing blogs. So far, the easiest and most broad in scope has been through using Google Reader. You can develop a collection of favorite blogs over time and visit them in one place rather than bouncing around blog to blog. The blogroll is all but obsolete when you consider the handy nature of feed readers like Google Reader. As I read, I usually don’t even get through three blogs before I have an inspiring idea for a post. It is a good idea to recognize the blogger who wrote the article in your article. However, if the new post idea is not clearly related, you should feel no obligation to do so.

  2. My kids. When I consciously take time away from my duties of life (including my computer) I get at least one or two inspiring ideas to blog on. I guess the only advice here is to do something with them away from the computer. If you end up making it into a profitable post, make sure you pay then with a trip to the pizza parlor or something else they’d enjoy.

  3. Movies reviews! I love writing these at my other blog and here: rileyfilm.reviews

  4. Google Trends. This is another excellent service Google provides that shows you what people are searching for. This is probably not a sure-fire way to get visitors but it can get you thinking and therefore inspired to write a post that will indeed be relevant.

Those are four inspiration sources for me. I hope you’ll try them out and find success in your blog journey.

20 Blogging Tips

Since I’ve been doing this blogging thing for over ten years now, I must have learned some things about it right? Not really. Just kidding. I’d say I have, though I wish I knew more. Blogging is an ever evolving practice and therefore can be a really confusing undertaking.

There are some simple things I’ve learned that make blogging more meaningful to me. They don’t necessarily improve traffic or income. I’ll leave those tips for the pros to give.

Here’s a short list of 20 things I came up with that are helpful to me, use ’em or toss ’em:

25 Blogging Tips

  1. Define what you want out of blogging.
  2. Set goals.
  3. Measure progress toward goals.
  4. Create a cool “About” page.
  5. Create attractive titles using related search terms.
  6. Pick a simple theme (I recommend one created by WordPress.org ie; Twenty Fifteen) and test, test, test.
  7. Use paragraph breaks about every 10 sentences or so. Do not write a whole page with no breaks.
  8. Embrace the mentality that posts have a 12-24 hour shelf life. Don’t expect it to be read after that.
  9. Write posts expecting them to be read years from now.
  10. Read other blogs.
  11. Subscribe to blogs that subscribe to yours.
  12. Comment on other blogs.
  13. Pay attention to what your “niche” is and become the resident expert.
  14. Use pictures when possible. Get yourself a good camera or get good at iPhoneography.
  15. Value real readers over “click through” traffic by replying to comments and commenting back.
  16. Provide entertainment.
  17. Every year or so, get a good quality profile picture on your blog.
  18. Be relaxed when you blog (it shows).
  19. Use Google Analytics or other service to find out which topics get the most reads.
  20. Enjoy yourself, try to not make blogging a chore.
  21. (bonus) Try blogging from Starbucks.

If you have any tips, please share with me in the comments!

Watch the Front for an Hour

Tell us about a time when you were left on your own, to fend for yourself in an overwhelming situation — on the job, at home, at school. What was the outcome?

Source: Sink or Swim | The Daily Post

I was told to watch the front for an hour when I was 17 working at the Alpha Beta Service Deli bakery. I had people telling me I was far too young to be in charge. Everything seemed to go wrong, but I survived. When in charge of people thenceforward, I decided to never do that. Fostering people’s growth while protecting them is a far better way to go about training them than sink or swim.

No (Some) Thing Really Matters to Me

http://artistthingstosay.tumblr.com/post/136744492487/new-york-subway-grand-central-station-sign-a4

Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution that you kept?

Source: Resolved | The Daily Post

When you dig deep you find out what really matters. Dating as much as possible doesn’t matter. Going through the Bible in a year doesn’t matter. Doing pushups kind of matters, running kind of matters, being open to others’ points of view REALLY matters. Loving others including your wife and showing actions that represent that love REALLY matters. Reading a certain list of hip titles kind of matters. Getting a college degree really matters. Scheduling a time in each day to practice relaxation or meditation really matters.

Letting go of false morals foisted on you by tradition mattered more to me than almost anything. Being conscious of your heartbeat, blood pressure, and breathing really matters. Doing a job of value really matters. Creating blog posts that are of value to my readers really matters. I kept all those resolutions and now you have my report as to which ones matter.

Pres. Clinton’s Pipe

BA, MA English Cal State Fullerton 1995, 1998

Tell us about a time when you had to choose between two options, and you picked the unpopular choice. Thanks for the great idea, Diamond Mike Watson!

Source: Unpopular | The Daily Post

So we were in a garage playing music and smoking pot roundabout 1988. I had a buddy who played with me sometimes who was laughing at me that I had “homework.” He told me as he was huffing his pipe and taking speaking breaths in between that he was sure Bill Clinton was going to make college free so that’s why he was “waiting.”

Well, last I heard he was still waiting.

Watching the Fish Eat

The perfect weekend for me consists of watching the fire burn, tasting the snack food while binge watching a new show on Netflix or reading my book on a Nook. I like letting things unfold. All week long as a teacher I’m adapting to the need of my students and so it’s great to have a weekend to not have to adapt to anything. Sunday night, I take an hour to plan my lessons for the week but up to that point, I don’t think about work much at all. After all, it’s going to be there whether I stress it or not.

Lately in the cold weather I’ve been somewhat obsessed (wait, can you be somewhat obsessed?) with my firewood and keeping a hot fire going to heat the house. Some days by afternoon on the weekend, we don’t even need the furnace. Back to the binge watching … we are trying Nurse Jackie and I find it quite contrived. Any suggestions of a series you’ve seen and liked would be greatly appreciated. It’s Friday night, my son is bringing me home a couple cheese enchiladas, rice and beans. I’ve got a hot fire going and all is well in the world. When I got up an hour ago to make a cafe mocha, my daughter was feeding the fish. A metaphor of my ideal weekend would be simply this: “watching the fish eat.” It’s the life of Riley over here I tell you.

Beware of El Niño

Beware of El Niño!

Today I spent a lot of time and energy driving to Lowes and then Home Depot looking for a fireplace grate. They were both sold out! I learned this is a seasonal item and quite frequently one that sells out. My grate at home has melted over the ten years we’ve lived here. I’m not even sure how old it was when we moved in.

Going into Home Depot, the rain had started. I saw this sign in their window and was struck by it. It reminded me of the people who exert fear to make a sale. It’s just now Winter and we have seen the dryest season ever. Still, the news reports are all preaching virtually the end times weather that is coming in the form of El Niño. We need rain badly, moreover snow to fill our aqueducts. I hope for it, but will believe in this “El Niño” when I see it.

For the time being, I just bought another tractor scoop of wood and ordered my fireplace grate through Amazon. I guess you could say I’m “ready” for the child (El Niño).