Tag Archives: blogging

Unknown Search Terms and other meta-blogging emphemera

Cat with a manual typewriter.One of the things that I have enjoyed since moving my blogging to FontFolly.Net hosted on WordPress five years ago has been seeing all the information about traffic to my site at a glance. Such as the Referrers–a section of the dashboard that shows you when someone followed a link on another site to my blog, or used a search engine. That information is available over on my author site (SansFigLeaf.Com), but I have to work harder to get the logs and parse them. WordPress does the work for me.

I used to really enjoy about once a month looking at the list of Search terms that people use to get to the site. As more and more people use private or anonymous browsing options, that list doesn’t change much, with more and more searches lumped into the category of Unknown Search Terms. Not that I don’t begrudge anybody some privacy, but it was amusing to speculate as to why someone had typed “bland relish tray” or “ceramic figurine queen jubilee” into a search engine, and whether whatever post of mine it was that they clicked on was at least entertaining to them.

On the other hand, the person who once typed “collecting dictionaries” so far as I know never left a comment or asked any question about the topic. Which is kind of sad, because if they typed that search term in, I hope it was because they or someone they cared about collected dictionaries, just like I do, and it’s always fun to meet someone who shares your interests.

Search terms aren’t the only thing of interest. Another part of the dashboard lists all of my old blog posts that someone has clicked on today. Certain old blog posts come up again and again. When it is one of my series of posts about why I love science fiction and fantasy (which are usually a review of a book or series of books or a particular author or a movie or sci fi TV series), I understand, and hope that the person enjoyed the post. When it is a particular post I wrote some months back about some infamous closet cases: former anti-gay Congressman Aaron Schock and former Pinal, Arizona County Sheriff Paul Babeu, I know that most likely it means that there has been a new development in Schock’s criminal trial on federal corruption charges, because whenever a story about his case gets published on news sites, I get a few hits. This week, though, it seems the reason why is that there has been a new development in the federal corruption investigation against Babeu. So, it was interesting to learn that he may yet be brought to justice.

I am happy that the all-time most read post is one about writing, Time doesn’t work that way. Makes me think I should get some more of my draft posts about writing, storytelling, et cetera finished and uploaded.

Time to say bye-bye to LiveJournal

I had gotten a couple of error messages informing me that the LiveJournal cross-posting wasn’t working the last couple of days, but hadn’t had time to look into it. Now I suddenly know why some people were making cryptic comments about not agreeing to new terms of service. This isn’t quite how I expected that service to start killing off the non-Russian content when I predicted that was the next logical move after they removed all of the mirrored servers outside of Russia and disabled secure socket login. The new Terms of Service include a lot of weird and concerning stuff but the real deal- breaker is this:

[The user must] Mark Content estimated by Russian legislation as inappropriate for children (0-18) as “adult material” by using Service functions.

And because of their various anti-gay laws, that means any mention of, oh, say that fact that I’m gay must be marked as inappropriate for children. And that’s B.S. It’s B.S. when YouTube is doing it, it’s B.S. anywhere. There are also clauses that say the journal will be deleted if you don’t sign in for several months, and it seems to say if your journal doesn’t generate a minimum number of hits in a period of time it will also be deleted and so on. There’s some analysis of the situation here and here and here.

The real kicker is that the English translation of the Terms of Service, which you have to click “Agree” to in order to sign in right now, says that only the Russian version is valid. Well, I can’t read Russian, so I have no clue what I’m really agreeing to if I can’t rely on the English translation they’re offering, right? A user who can read Russian has kindly posted a translation of the applicable laws here, if you’re curious.

I’m still weighing whether to log in, clicking “Agree” then delete all the entries except one that says the journal is closed? I mean, I’d be abiding by the terms as quickly as I could if I did that, right?

I migrated my journal to Dreamwidth a long time ago and downloaded back-ups. I do most of my blogging on my FontFolly.Net blog with cross-posting elsewhere. I didn’t delete the LiveJournal earlier because I still have some hold-outs on the friends’ list there who as far as I can tell have not moved to Dreamwidth or followed any other blogs.

Regardless of what anyone still using LiveJournal decides to do with their journals there, I hope that you will at least make a note of the ways to find me on the net: follow my WordPress-based blog on FontFolly.Net (you don’t have to have a WordPress account to do so); follow me on Twitter at @FontFolly, follow the cross-posting from FontFolly.Net to my Dreamwidth journal. If you don’t mind the dozens of reblogs of weird and fannish stuff, you can even follow me on Tumblr (where FontFolly.Net also cross-posts).

Why Livejournal isn’t the best way to follow me

Lisa Simpson reading her friends' posts in an image from The Simpsons © Gracie Films, © Fox Television, et al
Lisa Simpson reading her friends’ posts in an image from The Simpsons © Gracie Films, © Fox Television, et al
I’m going to post this on my blog at own domain as a placeholder, though this is primarily aimed at people who still follow me on LiveJournal.

LiveJournal is almost certainly going away. By which I don’t mean that I’m deleting my LiveJournal. What I mean is that the owners of LiveJournal in Russia continue to make it clear that customers outside of Russia are operating on borrowed time. This week for a while they blacklisted Dreamwidth’s servers, meaning that crossposting, importing, and so-forth between the two services stopped working for a while. I exported and moved my entire LiveJournal archive to Dreamwidth years ago for reasons explained before. And then have subsequently purchased my own domains (FontFolly.Net) and maintain my journal there. I still cross-post to Dreamwidth from FontFolly.Net which triggers a cross-post to LiveJournal, but how long that works is entirely up to the owners of LiveJournal.

And if you still aren’t aware of why this is an issue: LiveJournal is laying off it’s U.S. staff, and has moved their servers to Russia, which means your data and so forth is no longer protected by U.S. laws. The owners have also removed HTTPS security on everything but the payment page which should concern you, because ack of secure socket technology means hackers, spies, governments, and yes, even your nosy next-door neighbor may be able to spy on you while you’re on LJ.

I’m not accusing the owners of anything nefarious, here, I just think it’s very clear that the majority of their business and interest is in Russia, and all journals originating outside Russia are not a priority. Service for those of us outside the U.S. is almost certainly going to continue to degrade. Our journals may simple vanish altogether.

A lot of people are archiving their LiveJournals so as not to lose those years of journaling (instructions to do so HERE). I did that some time ago when I imported everything to Dreamwidth. Dreamwidth uses a fork of the original open source LJ code, so if you’ve stuck with LiveJournal because it’s easy and familiar, you’ll find using Dreamwidth is a very similar experience. You’ll also find that a lot of people who used to be on LiveJournal are over there. Some still crossposting like I do, so you may not be aware that some people you’re following here have actually decamped.

I have two selfish reasons I’m posting about this again. The first is that I would hate to lose the readers who still follow me here (regularly clicking over to my journal at FontFolly.Net, and occasionally leaving comments here). The other is that for a few of you, the only way I get any news about what’s happening in your life is by checking your Livejournal on my Friends’ feed, and I would hate to lose contact with you that way.

Regardless of what anyone still using LiveJournal decides to do with their journals there, I hope that you will at least make a note of the ways to find me on the net: follow my WordPress-based blog on FontFolly.Net (you don’t have to have a WordPress account to do so); follow me on Twitter at @FontFolly, follow the cross-posting from FontFolly.Net to my Dreamwidth journal.

To repeat: I’m not doing this to tell anyone you must stop using LiveJournal (though the current lack of secure socket support is extremely worrying). I’m seriously considering disabling comments on LiveJournal because I have to log in to their now NOT-secure site to reply, and that just doesn’t seem wise.

Blogging sites of yore and related news

Image from a 1944 US Navy Training Film.
Image from a 1944 US Navy Training Film.
In case you haven’t heard, the owners of LiveJournal have been moving the servers to Russia. A Russian company bought LiveJournal many years ago (because in those areas formerly part of the Soviet Union, blogging means writing on LiveJournal), but had left the servers in the U.S, which means that your data on those servers was covered by U.S. law. That is no longer the case. I know lots of people abandoned LiveJournal ages ago, but I still cross-post my blog there, and it is still the case that at least two long-term friends always read my posts by clicking over from LiveJournal. During the first couple of years that I was hosting my blog here at my own domain (FontFolly.Net), about half of the clicks to my blog each day were referred from LiveJournal.

I also want to point out that at least one prominent sci fi writer (George R.R. Martin) still does all of his blogging and otherwise communicating with fans over the internet through his LiveJournal. I know of several others who have domains of their own who still cross post to their LiveJournals, as well.

A lot of people are archiving their LJ posts so as not to lose those years of journaling. Since the owners have also removed HTTPS security on everything but the payment page your LJ password is slightly less secure. There are ways to mitigate that, but if you have a LiveJournal account you ever log into, you should make sure that the password used there isn’t used anywhere else. I’ve used a password manager for years, but not everyone does that. I highly recommend 1Password which is available for PC, Mac, iOS, and Android. I have friends who use and swear by LastPass. Both get stellar reviews.

Anyway, years ago (after the debacle where the previous LJ owners conspired with or were duped by some rightwing anti-gay groups into deleting hundreds of journals for bogus reasons; never mind that when it was brought to light LJ restored the journals and claimed it was all a misunderstanding) I migrated all my LiveJournal entries to DreamWidth, which is a much smaller company and doesn’t have an image hosting service. And now my actual blog is hosted at FontFolly.Net, with cross-posting to Dreamwidth, LiveJournal, and Tumblr. And I babble on Twitter.

Since I’m not the sort of person that the Russian government is out to shutdown, I think the main danger to me of the move of the LJ servers to Russian soil is that eventually the owners of LJ will decide that the U.S. journals aren’t generating enough revenue to justify keeping them. We’ll all get deleted at some point and I’ll lose contact with some people who only know me from there. So if you are someone who likes reading my rambles and rants and such, follow me on DreamWidth, at FontFolly.Net and/or Twitter. And ping me to let me know who you are so I can follow you back as appropriate.

Note: you don’t have to have a WordPress blog to follow FontFolly.Net. One of the options will just send you email updates when I post something. And it’s not me sending the emails, it’s an automatic WordPress thing, so you only get anything if I actually post a blog entry.

I may turn off comments on LiveJournal and/or delete older entries. I haven’t really decided.

There’s some features of LiveJournal (and Dreamwidth) that I really wish were easily available from my blog. The ability to post things that are only visible to a pre-defined list, for instance. There are ways to get something like that elsewhere, but only slightly similar functionality. And the main reason LJ’s worked so well is because it was not uncommon at the time, particularly if you were a geeky person, for the majority of your friends and trusted acquaintances to already have an account on LJ. Another thing I really liked was the ability to go look at journals being followed by someone you followed. I found some interesting writers I might not have ever even heard of otherwise that way.

This is related to another thing I’ve been thinking about/wrestling with recently. So I’ve been trying to motivate myself to work more diligently and methodically on finishing the galley edits to the first novel in my Trickster series and publish the darn thing. One thing I find that motivates me is to have a deadline that other people are expecting something from me. The more concrete the something is, the more likely I am to deliver. So I had been contemplating trying to use Patreon for that. Give myself a monthly task of posting a revised scene or similar, right?

My reason for considering Patreon is not about money, but rather the fact that Patreon has tools in place to restrict access of information. If I post a chapter on my blog, that puts it out there in a published format which may have implications for the later publication of the finished work, for instance. Lots of people publish excerpts and samples of works in progress, I know. I’m just not sure how much of that I want to do. So having an option to restrict it to only certain people (similar to when I bring excerpts to my writers’ group for comment) is appealing.

It’s been suggested that I just start a writing blog (whether it be a subset of my existing blog or separated) where I set myself deadlines, post reports, and maybe just ask people if they would be willing to look at something at give me feedback from time to time. And that might end up being what I do. As I mentioned when talking about my yearly goals, just giving myself the assignment to post once a month about my goals did seem to help me stick to them better the two years that I did that.

I’m still thinking about how to go about this. And I’m always open to ideas.

Been there, oh how I’ve been there and done that…

In one of the Discworld books, Terry Pratchett asserts the theory that there are only a small number of real people in the world, and the many people you meet are merely duplicates; that’s why you seem to meet the same kinds of people over and over again. I was reminded of this phenomenon by a string of tweets by Anne Theirault being shared around on Tumblr. They begin with her observation of a couple at the next table who seem to be on a coffee date that is not going well.

(Click to embiggen)
(Click to embiggen)
She proceeds to live tweet the conversation she is overhearing. The guy talks about himself constantly, without ever asking his date about herself. Any time she volunteers something about herself, he has to turn it into something about him. Example, she mentions she likes to cook, he tells her that she must taste this exotic sauce that he makes that a friend who is a chef says is great. And so on. Eventually the woman on the date fakes getting a text from her mother as an excuse to escape.

(Click to embiggen)
(Click to embiggen)
A little later Anne tweeted about all the reactions she was getting. Specifically, that most of the men who responded asserted that she’s being unfairly mean to the guy and/or accusing her of making the whole thing up. While the overwhelming majority of women respond that they have been on exactly the same date.

The Tumblr post has been shared nearly 200,000 times as of this morning. I noticed that I was not the only queer guy by any means to share it and comment that we had also been on this exact date. Other people have added the observation that they know it’s true not just because they’ve been on a similar date themselves, but because they know dates like that happen every single day.

I noticed that a lot of people sharing it on Tumblr make the observation that this proves you should never date a writer (the guy describes himself as a writer and says a lot of very cringe-worthy stuff about writing). Which means that these people completely misunderstand. First, Anne Theirault, who live-tweeted the exchange, is herself a writer. That wasn’t the observation she was making. The guy isn’t cluelessly obnoxious and self-absorbed because he’s a writer. He’s cluelessly obnoxious and self-absorbed because he’s a guy.

When I reblogged the Tumblr post, I observed that I had been on that exactly date back in the 90s, and had to fake coming down sick in order to flee. I was the writer in the conversation. The other guy was a performance artist. But I’ve had the exact conversation (not in the context of a date) with guys who are in marketing, guys who are software engineers, guys who are car mechanics, guys who run their own businesses, et cetera. And even worse, I know that there have been conversations I’ve been in when I was the cluelessly self-absorbed guy who only wanted to talk about myself and never let the other person get a word in edgewise.

Guys are socialized to be that kind of person. We’re supposed to assert ourselves, and dominate conversations. If we don’t all have the requisite extroversion streak to dominate, we’ve at least all been socialized to expect that our needs are always important, that of course anything we are involved in is going to be interesting to other people—not just interesting, but exceptionally interesting, because everything we do is special and unique and better than what anyone else is doing. Guys are taught to be entitled. We’re also taught that it is our job to win people over to our side. To be competitive even in a conversation. We’re taught that a date isn’t a chance to get to know another person, a date is an opportunity to conquer and take the other person as a prize.

Some of the specific assertions that Anne tweeted that the guy makes about how incredibly hard writing is, and how he has to struggle with his inner demons to write, even those are not something that is common to writers nor restricted to writers. The performance artist disaster of a date spent a lot of time explaining to me how very very hard it was to do what he did, how he had to dig into his worst childhood memories to infuse his performance pieces with meaning, and so on. It’s a product of the self-absorption and competitiveness. He was trying to impress me, to make me swoon over his great emotional depths and work ethic.

The only inner demons a writer needs to struggle with are Procrastination, Distraction, and the “But it’s not perfect yet!” urge. And those aren’t really demons. They are ordinary (and usually quite minor) imperfections. Our struggles aren’t exceptional. They are the same kinds of things that everybody struggles with.

Not all guys are like that all of the time. There are even some guys who are almost never like that. Some of us have realized we can be like that, that it isn’t good way to be, and we try not to let our arrogance bulldoze everyone else. I am also aware that there are even some gals who can be that way. Humans are not perfect.

Unfortunately, a lot of humans are imperfect in very similar ways.

Weekend Update: 5/16/2015

A few bits of news came in after I had scheduled yesterday’s Friday Links to post, but before they actually posted:

Legendary Blues guitarist B.B. King passed away Thursday night. He was 89 years old but just a few months ago still touring and charming audiences with his velvety voice. B.B. King: A Tribute to Blues Brotherhood.

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 10.03.01 AMWilliam Zinsser, writer, editor, and author (and frequent updater) of the legendary On Writing Well, died this week. He was 92 years old. William Zinsser, Author of ‘On Writing Well,’ Dies at 92. He is less famous for another book he wrote, in the early days of personal computing, when a lot of professional writers were up in arms about how word processors would destroy the craft of writing and make literature robotic (seriously), Zinsser wrote Writing With a Word Processor, extolling the virtues of the tool.

At least one of the virulent anti-gay bills the Texas legislature has been cooking up as fast as they can in anticipation of a summer Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality is dead for the moment: Same-sex marriage license ban bill dies in Texas legislature. On the other hand, 93 of the 98 Texas House Republicans Sign Shameful Anti-Gay Letter Pledging to Defy Supreme Court on Marriage.

And this pair of tweets went across my timeline yesterday afternoon. If you don’t know who Vox Day is, you’re lucky. Let’s just say he’s a virulent bigot who hates just about everyone:


Anyway, I thought it was a good thought to remember: holding people responsible for their hate speech is merely that, holding them responsible.

Assessments, plans, and implementations: a metapost

Click to embiggen.

Some parts of this post may fall too far into the “what I had for breakfast” zone for some of you, but it helps me to stick to plans if I share them with people. Not that I get nagged often by my readers, I just am more motivated to do things I have said I would do than to follow through on plans that I keep to myself.

So I’ve been making some changes to my routines in an attempt to improve my writing productivity, and I’m thinking about some changes for this blog…
Continue reading Assessments, plans, and implementations: a metapost

Friday Links (marriage, riots, and weird dinosaurs edition)

Harlem United's H.O.M.E Program Group taking a stand in front of the notorious Atlah church sign.
Harlem United’s H.O.M.E Program Group taking a stand in front of the notorious Atlah church sign.
It’s Friday! A grueling week of work is very nearly over! It’s the first Friday in May!!! And my husband and I have an awesome date night planned for tonight. Then tomorrow I and a bunch of my nerdiest friends are going to go see the new Avengers’ movie! Wicked, right?

Anyway, here is a collection of some of the things that I ran across over the course of the week which struck me as worthy of being shared:

Former Homeless Teen Cyndi Lauper Testifies Before Congress On Ending LGBT Youth Homelessness.

Dan Savage Presents His Manifesto For Straight Guys Attending Pride.

The glaring contradiction at the heart of the anti-gay marriage argument.

The Long Road Ahead: the ongoing fight for justice after marriage equality.

Harlem United’s H.O.M.E Program Group Strikes A Unified Pose Outside Notoriously Anti-LGBT Church.

How Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped pave the way for marriage equality.

Outside the Supreme Court, ‘love conquers hate’.

Why the ‘Religion is against gay marriage’ line no longer works.

Bloomberg Quick Take: Gay Rights.

On marriage debate, GOP candidates forget what year it is.

The central delusion of the Christian right: Americans aren’t really churchgoers after all.

Marriage opponents protest D.C. church.

It’s Not Gay Marriage vs. the Church Anymore.

The best part of the Supreme Court oral arguments about marriage equality was when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg alluded to S&M. Sort of…

Two gay West Virginia high school athletes attend senior prom as couple, and no one freaked out. Their pictures are adorable!

5 Horrible Ideas Republicans Will Never Let Die.

Bobby Jindal just splintered the GOP: The unholy alliance between Fox News and the 1 percent can no longer stand.

The First Rule For Interviewing An Anti-Gay Hate Group. I refuse to use the scare quotes!

Rich Gay Republicans Very Sorry For Not Knowing Ted Cruz Is An A-Hole.

The joke was that Obama wasn’t joking.

Women are overpriced vagina buses that won’t let you ride them, Man Going His Own Way explains.

David Simon on Baltimore’s Anguish.

The night the news died.

In case you had any doubts, media is rolling with Washington Post’s stenography for Baltimore PD.

Larry Wilmore rips Fox and CNN for ‘thug’ debate: ‘Here’s an N-word’ for you — ‘news’.

Morgan Freeman: Unrest in Baltimore exposed ‘the terrorism we suffer from the police’.

This animal is so weird that researchers are calling it ‘the platypus of dinosaurs’.

Rosetta Captures Stunning New Images of Comet’s Surface and Activity.

A Million H-Bombs per Second Heat the Sun’s Corona.

Romer’s Gap and the Four-Limbed Critters of Nova Scotia.

Bizarre ‘Bat Dinosaur’ Discovered in China.

11 Amazing Images From the Final Days of NASA’s Messenger Probe.

Internet delivers justice to man who left snarky joke instead of a tip. Thanks to @seashellseller for the link!

NOM: We’re broke and need money before you see no reason to ever give to us again. My heart bleed purple peanut butter for them!

In much sweeter news: Homeless Pit Bull Found Nursing Abandoned Kitten On Roadside.

And I wrote How I learned to stop being a jerk and love the wish list.

And that It bothers some people that we exist, part 2.

And I confessed that I would lose my head if it wasn’t attached.

Misconceptions about Caffeine – mental_floss on YouTube (Ep. 24):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Adam Lambert – “Ghost Town” [Official Music Video]:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Barney Frank on the Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Ruling – speculates that Justice Scalia will go up in a puff of smoke:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Why Action Movies Are Musicals For Dudes – Today’s Topic:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Cyndi Lauper Testimony: Hearing on Effort to End Youth Homelessness:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Alex & Pam: Hallmark #PutYourHeartToPaper:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Conchita Wurst – You Are Unstoppable (I can’t believe how aweseome every song that has been released from Conchita’s upcoming album is):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Oh, what was it?

The other night while I was walking home from work (which takes a bit over an hour) I had this brilliant idea. For a while last year I participated in Throwback Thursday (#tbt or #Throwback) by writing a blog post inspired by one of the large collection of scans of the contents of Grandma’s old photo albums. It was fun. It was an easy way to make me write about something other than politics or the news.

But it isn’t something I really wanted to do constantly. Particularly since I was trying to avoid posting pictures of living relatives without their permission—or at least to minimize it. So that limited which pictures could be used. There’s also only so many childhood memories that I can make at least potentially interesting to other people.

So I took a break, figuring I would do it occasionally, or maybe pick a month next time, or something. Anyway, there I was, walking home in the drizzle, listening to music on my headphones, cars zooming by in the dark, and I had an idea of something else that I could do on Thursdays; make it the usual Thursday thing. It was a topic that could include Throwback Thursday. So I would have the benefits I get from having a weekly scheduled task, that could sometimes be a Throwback Thursday post, but most of the time would be something else. And that something else would, I hoped, be of slightly more interest than just another walk down memory lane with Gene.

It was brilliant! I even thought of a cute name that had the same initials as the short hashtag (tbt). I resolved to start my first post as soon as as I got home.

When I walked in the door, my glasses fogged up. I heard my husband call to me from upstairs, but I couldn’t understand what he said because I still had my headphones on. I had to turn off my headphones, take off (get myself untangled from) my backpack, peel off my wet hat and coat, hang up the coat and the hat, get out of my shoes, get the rest of my damp work clothes peeled off and tossed into the hamper, then pull them back out to check the pockets which I always forget, figure out where I set my glasses down when I came in the door, put on some sweatpants and fuzzy socks—all the while as Michale and I babble at each other about dinner and/or our days or something else that one of us thinks is important—check the mail, collect my phone and iPad and watch and headphones to put on their chargers…

And finally I sat down and woke up my laptop. I jumped to WordPress right away to start the first post in the new Thursday idea…

…and I couldn’t remember what the nifty notion was. I don’t just mean that I didn’t remember what I meant to start writing for today’s post, I mean that I couldn’t remember the umbrella topic/personal meme that was going to be my new regular Thursday thing. The thing that had the initials T B T and could include Throwback Thursdays as a subset.

I remember having the thought. I remembered the entire internal conversation about how I’d do it. But the idea itself? Gone.

And it’s still gone, days later. I haven’t got the slightest idea what it was. None.

I hate when that happens!

Sometimes it’s the little things that keep us sane

© 2014 Gene Breshears
Coffee always helps.
Some time back a friend I follow on twitter re-tweeted a funny headline that began with the words “Florida Man” and included a link. I clicked on the link and read a short story about a guy in Florida doing something stupid or outrageous or something. It was funny, but I noticed that the headline of the story didn’t match the tweet. The headline in the tweet described the story perfectly, but it wasn’t the actual headline of the news story.

The original source of the tweet (which my friend had re-tweeted) was an account named @_FloridaMan. A quick check of the account revealed it was a long string of headlines and links to text or video news stories happening in Florida. And not just any news stories, but specifically stories of men doing things such as trying to shoot an iguana and nearly hitting people in a nearby house instead, or calling the police to complain that he thinks his drug dealer is cheating him, or trying to steal ridiculous amounts of food by stuffing them down his pants and thinking no one will notice, and so forth. Most of the tales involved the police eventually.

A recent example for @_FloridaMan.
A recent example from @_FloridaMan.
They are funny and often extremely sad at the same time. And the stories cover such a wide spectrum of activities, you never know what’s going to pop up next. I got a kick out of reading several of the stories, and considered following @_FloridaMan right away. The problem is that I could see how that constant stream of ridiculous and thoughtless and often fatally stupid things that people do could encourage my inner cynic to the point of making me an unpleasant person.

An example from @EmergencyKittens
An example from @EmergencyKittens
A couple of different friends occasionally retweeted cute pictures of cats with humorous descriptions of said pictures. Yes, they’re cute cat pictures. Yes, I am aware of the widely-held belief that only shallow people share cute cat pictures on the internet. But they made me smile. Sometimes they made me roll my eyes, but most often they made me smile. One day, by chance, shortly after I had been reading a heart wrenching story about a man murdering his own teenage daughter because she was lesbian, I flipped over to twitter to try to get my mind off the story, and one of my friends had re-tweeted something unbelievably adorable from EmergencyKittens again, and I no longer felt like my head was going to burst from the combination of rage at the father and sorrow for the girl and everyone who cared for her.

I checked the entire Emergency Kitten feed again, and yes, it repeats itself a bit more often than I’d like, and yes many of the humorous comments are rather obvious. If it was the only thing coming into my feed, it would become annoying after a while. Of course, it wouldn’t be the only thing happening in my feed, as I follow a bunch of people, but still…

And that’s when I had the idea. I followed both @_FloridaMan and @EmergencyKittens on the same day. Both of them give me laughs, but they aren’t the some kind of humor. Both make me roll my eyes or groan. But while one often reinforces my inner cynic, the other just as often reinforces my inner optimist.

Both of them, in different ways, act as antidotes to the outrage that can so easily by instilled reading more serious news stories and otherwise paying attention to what’s happening in the world. So, having both feeds randomly put funny, silly, bewildering moments into my day go a long way toward keeping me sane.