Slowvember’s Slow Start

A very short, ink black Derwent Inktense pencil, held in rough, dry fingers.
That’s my ink black Derwent Inktense pencil, freshly sharpened, held over a Canson Fanboy Manga Art board. I could probably do with a new pencil. And maybe some hand lotion.

To be fair, I didn’t know that Slowvember was a thing until it was already underway. The point of Slowvember, according to the Society of Visual Storytellers, is to follow Inktober with a challenge “…to slow down the pace and work on one image and make it as good as you can.”

“While Inktober is about making a new image daily, Slowvember is about quality and getting something really good.”

And, since documenting the process is a part of the Slowvember spirit, I thought I would start at the start. Inktense pencils seem like a great way to begin a month-long art project which will probably end with more traditional inks and maybe even some Derwent Graphik Line Painters.

Are you participating in this year’s Slowvember? Feel free to comment below.

And don’t forget to hashtag!

#slowvember

Daily Post: Knowing Your Neighbors

This was written in response to today’s prompt Neighbors, from The Daily Post, a good site for helping you get to know your neighbors on WordPress.com. It was written with Bear, and edited using ProWritingAid.

An adorable senior Maltese standing in a dog stroller.
Nena in her stroller on the day we got it, with Linda’s leg visible through the mesh. The stroller is great for taking Nena on longer walks around the neighborhood!

I grew up in small towns, brought up with the notion that people in cities don’t know their neighbors. I believed that notion. I thought it reasonable that city folk, having come from other places and having myriad options for work and entertainment, might have neither the time nor inclination to get to know the people around them.

Good lord, was I wrong.

I now live in Anaheim, California. People may argue that Anaheim—even all of Orange County—is just a suburb of Los Angeles. But Anaheim boasts a population of over 300,000 people. If St. Louis is a city, then Anaheim is, too. And in Anaheim, I know my neighbors.

I know the military couple who rent the condo next to ours and whose Pomeranian owns more outfits than some children I’ve met. I know the athlete who lives alone, the Porsche mechanic whose wife lives in another country, the mechanic’s roommate and the mechanic’s cat, and the young couple at the end of the hall with their year-old daughter.

I know the people who live on the floor beneath ours, and the people whose units face the street.

In short, I know everyone who lives in our building.

My wife, Linda, and I know most of the people in the buildings immediately to the north and south of ours, as well as the building directly to the west. The further a building is from ours, the less likely we are to know its occupants.

We don’t know all the people on our block. That I’ll admit. But we might know all the dogs.

We know Winston, Brooklyn, and Jack (RIP), Bella and Bert. We know Rocco, Kona, Loki, Bodie, and Penny (who moved away). We know Charlie, Peyton and Kennedy. We know the American Eskimo dogs whose names we can’t pronounce. We know Sasha. We know Elway. We know well-dressed Bella. We know Miles who, like Penny, has moved away. We know Roxie, Lilo, Dumpster, Alphie, and Fiona.

We know our neighbors for two reasons. The first of these is interest.

Linda took interest in providing a platform for communication between neighbors,  so she set up a private group on Nextdoor for people—homeowners and renters, alike—who live in our development. She then took on the task of getting everyone to join.

She’s done well.  A high percentage of our neighbors have joined the group, and it’s more active than I expected, with people using the platform to find lost packages, announce HOA meetings and maintenance projects, discuss problems, and organize to find solutions.

The second reason is that we have a dog. Some of our neighbors interact with us because of our—admittedly ridiculously cute—dog. Even before adopting Nena, we knew our dog-owning neighbors, collectively, better than those without dogs. People who own dogs tend to walk them. They wander outside more often than people without dogs, and that makes them more available for social interaction.

As does the dog, itself.

It’s acceptable to want to greet another person’s dog, to want to pet that dog, to ask their name and their sex and their age, and to talk baby talk to them upon introduction.

Try that behavior with your adult, human neighbor. I dare ya. Unabashed delight is reserved for pets and small children.

In the last small town I lived in, for roughly twenty years, I knew my immediate neighbors, but not much beyond that. I didn’t know my neighbors there any better than I know my neighbors here.

In fact, the reverse is true.

Want to know your neighbors?

Live where you want.

Take interest in the people around you. Sometimes, their concerns are—or should be—your concerns.

Then get yourself a dog.

Edited November 3rd and 4th, 2017, to add links to a few of my favorite “neighborly” posts based on the prompt:

This, That, and the Other: Regrettable Greta
The Introspection Connection: The Apartment
Litterbox Riot: neighbors

Improvised “Tags” for WordPress Pages

Over the past two days, I’ve moved a lot of content to WordPress.com. Most of it has been published as pages, rather than posts. Last night, I wondered how I was going to go about making those 90-some pages of content more discoverable.

Also last night, I figured out a workaround.

You can do this in a page or post, but I prefer using a Custom HTML widget.

All you have to do—in that widget, page, or post—is create a series of links to search results within your site.

Format your links like this, where “tag” is the term you want to run a search for:

<a href="/?s=tag">tag</a>

or

<a href="domain.tld/?s=tag">tag</a>

So, for example, if I wanted to create a “tag” for “workaround” on this site, I would write this:

<a href="/?s=workaround">Workaround</a>

or

<a href="sharonda.net/?s=workaround">Workaround</a>

or

<a href="smwoodfin.wordpress.com/?s=workaround">Workaround</a>

I’m currently using relative URLs (the version which doesn’t include the domain) because the code won’t need to be updated even if it’s served from a different address, and for consistency between my primary domain and my WordPress.com subdomain.

You can see how this works by clicking here: Workaround

This workaround isn’t quite as simple as adding a tag on a post, but the method will work for both sites and pages, and it’s not at all difficult to implement.

This Site is Now Hosted at WordPress.com

Updated November 1st, 2017, to add a link to my tagging workaround.

If you’ve shown up here after having visited Sharonda.net in the past, and are currently very confused, see the title of this post. In the interest of preserving URLs, the site’s old blog posts have been moved to pages, and you can find them via the Archived Content page.

I know that may be a bit inconvenient, but I had to choose between letting posts keep their categories and tags or letting them keep their original URLs, and URLs won out.

I’m still feeling my way around how things are done at WordPress.com versus self-hosted WordPress, and trying to make sure that links won’t be broken whether the site is accessed via Sharonda.net or SMWoodfin.WordPress.com, in part because I’m future-proofing.

Hopefully, within the next few days, I’ll figure out some sort of tagging system for all the content here that is now served as pages, rather than posts, even if I have to do it manually.

Blogging Beyond the Grave

This is just a note to myself, really, but I thought I’d share it for anyone else who might be trying to decide between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

I have a self-hosted WordPress site with a custom domain, and I’ve been thinking about moving it to WordPress.com so that I’m free from having to deal with the more technical aspects of keeping a blog. Not that I hate dealing with those aspects, but it becomes a distraction for me, and distractions mean lost productivity.

This morning, though, it sunk in that whatever I post at WordPress.com will probably outlive me. I used to want my stuff to expire after I did, but now, I have a wife. She’s promised to outlive me, as well, and I would like it if, once I’m gone, she would be able to go back and see some of the things that I’ve posted. My self-hosted site won’t allow that once the money runs out. I don’t want her to fund it in perpetuity, but even if she did, it’s unreasonable to expect her to keep the software updated.

And who wants to be running WordPress 4.8.2 a decade or two from now?

Yeah. Me, neither.

I wouldn’t have thought, even a few years ago, that marriage and mortality would be prime factors in my hosting decisions, but there ya have it! Crawling toward 50 really does change things!