It’s hard to believe I’ve been chronicling my life and interests online for a decade now. I started with a brief Blogger blog before moving to Movable Type where it stayed until today, the tenth anniversary. So with that, here’s my relaunch on WordPress (“about damn time!” you’re probably thinking, and yes) and a little recap of where the last ten years have taken me.
I graduated from Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design University, had four jobs (2 design studios, a non-profit and a mobile tech start-up), and started a business
I’ve lived in three municipalities; in my current one I live a stone’s throw from the hospital where I was born!
I haven’t aged one bit since entering my thirties (yeah right)
There are 9 unfinished blog posts and 367 published
I developed connections with several local bloggers
My blog was noticed by Natural Health magazine, which published some of my zero waste tips and a brief profile in 2015
I learned a second content management system and a third programming language
iPhones and iPads came on the scene, changing my design process and making things more fun and more complex at the same time
Since starting my business a little over three years ago, I’ve worked with more than 30 non-profit and small business clients, for which I’m grateful, and I probably need to blog more often about the amazing work they’re doing
I took up cycling (and became addicted), stand-up paddling, knitting, gardening and hiking. Also protesting!
My blog has been chronically neglected for a long time, and to be frank that’s probably not going to change. Facebook tends to absorb ideas into short blurbs rather than researched exploration or an illustrated story. I do enjoy writing, however, and I’m hoping that this new content management system will facilitate more of it.
If you’ve been here before, thanks for coming back. If this is your first time, take a gander. There’s a decade’s worth of reading material!
When I decided to do a “green” blog challenge as my fundraising pledge, I figured a daily commitment would be easier to stick to than a weekly one because I can’t procrastinate. It has its downsides from a content perspective — lack of time to fully develop arguments with good sources, or to edit properly (I also don’t use spellcheck). But generating a daily post means I get it done without getting caught up in perfectionism or letting ideas become stale. I hope ultimately that, among unexpected duds, my content is better.
It might seem at first like writing about the environment is a constrained topic. I discovered as I branched out, however, that I can write about the environment in the context of design, art, health, technology and film. It goes to show that there are multiple ways of relating to environmental issues, and that the environment really does touch, affect and inspire all aspects of our life, especially culture. When you look at it that way, you can begin to understand how when natural systems are unhealthy and disrupted, we are affected, even if the effects are subtle or appear slowly over the long term. As David Suzuki puts it, “What we do to the environment, we do to ourselves.”
Our team at DSF has been working steadily for months to bring you a new website that lets you — people who care about environmental issues, sustainability, and health — share your ideas, questions, and stories about how we can all make a difference. The site also makes it easy to learn about relevant issues and take action in meaningful ways, big and small.
The design is a significant departure from our old site, which is cluttered and inconsistent. We’ve taken on a new strategy as well: most content is written to fit into either the Learn, Do or Share category, then pulled into project pages where relevant. This allows content to fit into two projects without duplicating pages, gives us flexibility when projects come to an end, and helps you get the freshest content. It’s a more accessible approach than organizing content around our programs, and avoids dividing complex topics like climate change into single issues. Everything is interconnected.
Three years ago today, I started a blog at Blogger and didn’t really have a name for this new “thing,” didn’t know where it was going, and didn’t know precisely what to write about. I’m still writing about topics almost as broad as my own interests, and frankly, I don’t think I know much better where it’s going but at least it has a name: thirteen cent pinball.
About eight months ago I decided to upgrade my blog from Movable Type version 3 to the much improved 4. In the process, I wanted a wider page with larger font, bigger images, a cleaner and easier commenting section, and better typography. I wanted to eliminate extra steps and hurdles for users, and streamline my own process for updating content across the blog and eventually my portfolio as well.
Regular visitors will recall the blog originally looked like this:
I’ve been working for awhile on giving my blog design a facelift. As tends to happen with design projects that are drawn out at length (as is the case when it’s not my full-time work), I know more at the end than I did at the beginning. I mean, yeah, that’s supposed to happen, naturally, with any project, but these ones that would otherwise be condensed into a short time frame take place over the course of months that are packed with learning that occurs outside their context. That learning tends to fall into either design (look at how much better I’ve become!) or programming (look at what I’ve learned how to do!). Sometimes it’s outside influences like new technology that didn’t exist before, or of which I did not know. Well, this time around, it’s not so much my visual skills or my technological skills, but my thinking that has changed and grown since I embarked on this miniature quest. And it’s quite, quite recent.
Blogs and websites are constantly evolving. As a result one can probably expect users to be evolving too — in fact, with the presence of RSS readers, we hardly need spend time on people’s blogs in our web browsers save to comment. User behaviour changes with technology. This is clear. So when I have a model for my blog that is almost 3 years old, I have to wonder… what is still relevant? What features do users actually use and how do they find information?
I googled this already but Google help me I didn’t find an answer. That, therefore, is where you come in. The question I pose you is: how do you use blogs? When you arrive at a post, what helps you move on to another post (assuming you enjoyed the content or found it helpful)? How do you navigate the information — through tag clouds, categories, recent comments? Are lists overwhelming or redundant?
Your feedback will help me determine what features are of most use to you when you read my blog. Thanks in advance for helping me out.
A side note: in its next incarnation, I expect comments to appear immediately on thirteen cent pinball. Hooray! The facelift is a modernization, rather than a redesign, so the overall visual “flavour” of the blog, if you will, shall remain the same.
Beginning next week (well, last week, but today’s a holiday in BC), I’ll be writing a blog post at lunch every Monday. It gets me motivated to write, to think and to explore. A weekly “routine” is good when it’s something one enjoys (hence not a “chore” kind of routine). It gently forces me to get my thoughts out on virtual paper and to learn more about my topics. A regular post will hopefully bring readers in more. (Selfish? not at all! If anything it’s easier for you.) This doesn’t mean I won’t write other days of the week — I did last week — and I may occasionally miss it, but this is quite a feat unto itself. Once a week! Will I run out of things to say? If I do, I’ll have to take photographs.
It being a long weekend, this isn’t a “lunch blog” as such, but will do just fine for non-British Columbian readers for whom this isn’t a holiday. But I’m sure you have your own I don’t know about!
I’ve wondered whether my lack of feedback is from a lack of visitors or the fact that it requires authentication with Typekey. On top of that, it doesn’t work in Safari for some reason, and I loathe using Firefox’s gimpy form to reply to the few comments I get. (You know who you are; thank you!) Anyway, whatever, I’ve disabled it and have added two plug-ins to defeat spam. You’ll notice a little question at the bottom now. Comments are now disabled on posts older than 10 days. Thank you.
Now to see whether this affects my gigantic number of “unique visitors” who are dragging down my visit time stats. Wanna bet they’re 90% spam? Who the heck hits the search button 10 times and for what purpose?
A lot of my time gets wasted by spammers, who have nothing better to do than to waste my time. I get email alerts from MT when I get comments, so I have to go and delete the spam ones. Then I come in here and junk and delete the ones from my main comments area, and empty the junk folder (thanks for the new feature, guys!). And I shake my head at all this stupid stuff. It’s the same with emails: do you think I don’t realise it’s spam? What good does this do you? I guess they’re just out there to annoy people.
I FINALLY got TypeKey authentication working. It was a simple problem at the server that they have now fixed (thanks J.E.T. and DJT), which in turn fixed my TypeKey sign-in validation issue. Yesss. So that means less of my time will be wasted, and it may save you guys a few seconds each time you comment. Speaking of which, since I hardly get any comments, I figured making TypeKey registration mandatory wouldn’t do much harm. If you’d like to comment and haven’t got a TypeKey account, it’s free, quick, and painless and you’ll enjoy using it at other blogs. There’s a link at the bottom to register. Please do, then come back here and send me your thoughts!
Last but not least, I can approve commenters so your comments should appear right away. Just don’t post anything that breaks copyright law, eh? 🙂
I’m going to be creating another blog as part of my grad project. It will be at https://www.erikarathje.ca/tomatoes/ I think. Don’t go there yet because it’s the hideous default stylesheet with no content! Anyway, I’m planning on calling it “Tomatoes don’t grow on trees”, and it will feature articles and my own commentary on my food and nutrition-related experiences.
Basically my grad project topic is exploring the role of industry & politics in determining nutrition & health. Ever wonder why eating a tomato feels like eating a pencil crayon, knowing the pencil crayon would have more flavour?
Speaking of trees and fruits, my 11.5-year-old Macintosh/Spartan apple tree finally bore fruit that I picked and sampled this afternoon. I don’t think they were quite ripe, or at least the small one that I happily ate, but it was DELICIOUS, tart but sweet, and crunchy! I’ve never liked those apples so I’m glad I enjoyed it. I touched and thanked the tree, and graciously said goodbye to its browning, leaning grandeur as it may not survive the winter. My mother gave it a good shook at some point (trying to push it over, I was informed today!), which she says shocked it into bearing fruit. (You can also give a wisteria a death threat that will make it bloom.) It gave 5 or 6 and I ended up with 3 in the end. Mom says that it’s a sign it’s going to die. 🙁 But, I planted it from seed, and it was a good tree. It gave me its final (parting) gifts. Thank you, old friend.
I don’t think I can bear the picture and thought of my dad taking a chainsaw to it and slicing its trunk and limbs. I think that… I should like a piece of it made into something, even if it’s just a 1″-thick ring that I can put on the wall or something. I think, though, that that would make me very sad… knowing it was part of a living tree once, MY tree. If we can use its branches and trunk as much as we can and make something from it, grant it some honour, I’ll be grateful.