A Blogiversary

I recently renewed my domain name for this site, so that means my blogiversary is coming up. Honestly, I wasn’t sure the blog would make it to this blogiversary. For the past year or so, I’ve increasingly been thinking that I should stop blogging. Not many people read this blog anyway (though the few who do are pretty fabulous) and blogging just isn’t what it used to be.

I also sometimes wish I had chosen a different name for this blog. (Though what else I would have chosen, I don’t know.) Sometimes I feel like the current name doesn’t really describe what it is anymore—or what I want it to be. Yes, I know I could change the name, but that’s a pain. I’d have to come up with a new domain name, put in a redirect for the old domain so I don’t lose all of my traffic (not that there’s that much anyway!) and readers, and who knows what else. So I probably won’t change this blog’s name, but who knows.

Anyway, I think my proper blogiversary is in March (I wrote two posts for a new blog in January 2011 and saved them on this blog, but I didn’t properly start blogging with this domain name until early March 2011). If I do have any blogiversary celebrations, March will be the time. But don’t count on anything, because I’m feeling decidedly unenthusiastic about this.

A Cute Bird

One of the local library branches near where I live has parakeets. Yes, you read that right. There are actual parakeets at this library and they are adorable. They live in a cage in the children’s section and surprisingly enough, the kids seem to behave around them. The librarians help keep an eye on them, from what I’ve seen.

One of the birds is so adorable that I had to take a few pictures of him. He chirped the entire time.

Isn't he cute?
Isn’t he cute?

One of the many reasons why I always go to this branch is so I can see this little guy. Seriously, if the librarians didn’t keep such a close watch on him, I’d be tempted to slip him into my pocket and take him home with me! Too bad I need to get some writing done today—otherwise I’d go visit him later!

I Passed My Exam!

Dear readers, I am back. I hadn’t intended to take a week off from blogging, but something came up. I registered to take part two (out of three) of a professional certification exam back in August. The registration is valid for six months, during which time you have to schedule and take the exam, or else forfeit the exam fee.

I’d been putting off studying, but at the end of last year, I finally started on it since I realized my registration window was running out. After I started getting most of the questions right, I knew I had to register.

So I logged into the testing system to schedule my time and saw there weren’t many good slots left. There were some very late ones this week and some decent ones in mid-February, but I didn’t want to wait until then. On Wednesday night, I registered for the one remaining Thursday slot. I think that’s the most last-minute planning ever. Since our department at work really wants all of us to get this certification, I was allowed to take a day off to study and take the exam on Thursday. And I passed! Seriously, I was a bit surprised. I had studied, but some of the questions were really hard. There were quite a few that I could narrow the answer choices down to two possible answers, but I wasn’t sure which was correct.

Anyway, I didn’t do much writing (either on this blog or my fiction) last week. I was too busy studying and then feeling relieved that I passed. I spent the weekend reading and watching a movie and crocheting. It was quite nice. Especially since we have unseasonably good weather right now. Unfortunately, it’s back to the usual grind tomorrow. At least I squeezed in some decent writing time today!

2016: My Year in Books

A couple of other bloggers I read, K.M. Weiland and Kiera, wrote posts about the best books they read in 2016. Usually, by the end of the year, I forget which books I read that year, but thanks to Goodreads, this is no longer the case. 2016 was the second year I tracked my reading on that website. This year, there’s even a convenient little page that sums up all of one’s reading.

I read a lot in 2016—126 books to be exact. It was actually fewer than 126 because some of those were short stories that tied in to series I’d read. But still, even without counting those, I still read a ton of books. Here are some of my favorites.

Continue reading “2016: My Year in Books”

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! С Новым годом! I have returned from the Balmy Tropics to the Frozen Tundra (okay, it actually isn’t cold here at all, but it’s very gray outside and looks like it’s about to snow) and have some photographic evidence of my vacation to share. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with endless streams of vacation pictures—just a couple of highlights.

Click to see larger.
Click to see larger.

We attempted to go to a sushi place, but were unsuccessful. The refusal to bring us water or anything to drink or even a menu convinced us to leave. Bad reviews online have convinced us we weren’t missing anything.

We made Martha Stewart’s one-pan pasta (we left out the pepper flakes because we don’t like spicy pasta) and it is fantastic. Seriously, you should try it. It isn’t complicated to make and tastes excellent. In fact, it is on the menu for dinner tonight after I write this post. You can click on the photos above to see them larger. I tried to do a fancy WordPress gallery thing, but I don’t know if I succeeded. You’re also supposed to see captions for the photos if you put your mouse on them, but I don’t know if that works or not…

My afghan! Click to see larger.
My afghan! Click to see larger.

Finally, there was much crafting done—mainly crocheting and knitting. Above is a picture of my pink afghan. I’m hoping to finish it soon because I’ve been working on it for ages.

That, in a nutshell, was my Christmas/New Year’s vacation. Now I’m back and ready to get blogging again. I’m also happy to say I’ve written fiction every day so far in 2017 (that sounds a lot more impressive if you don’t talk about the fact that it’s only the second day of 2017!).

Happy December!

hello-december

Happy December, everyone! I don’t know where November went. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like it went by very quickly. I can’t believe 2016 is almost over.

It’s finally starting to get cold where I live. Even on Thanksgiving, it was actually quite warm here. (Though it became very cold during the days after Thanksgiving.) I had some time off work, which was nice. Now I’m back to blogging—look for the November Writing Report and Wednesday Music later this week.

Why I’m Thinking Of Quitting Twitter

Should we just say no?
Should we just say no?

After much thought, some of it prompted by the election, some of it not, I’m contemplating giving up Twitter.

I got Twitter in 2008 and loved it for years. I “met” lots of random awesome people, especially Russian speakers, and enjoyed tweeting in bad Russian and sharing articles related to Russia. Once I even managed to get then-president Dmitry Medvedev’s aide Arkady Dvorkovich to tweet to me, along with hawkish Russian nationalist politician Dmitry Rogozin. Rogozin and I actually had an entire conversation on Twitter and it was awesome.

Then a couple of things happened. Twitter went public, which meant it wasn’t just a cute website with the occasional ad and venture capital funding as a way of earning money. It was now beholden to shareholders, which means there’s an expectation to deliver positive growth quarter after quarter. The company had changed and the site just wasn’t as fun anymore.

Or maybe I changed. I’ve written before about how combative and nasty Russia-watching has become. I didn’t just mean in the blogosphere. A lot of the nastiness I experienced was on Twitter.

Still, I stuck with Twitter. Maybie it was out of misguided loyalty, but a writing group I was a part of congregated on there. I enjoyed interacting with fellow writers and giving (and receiving!) encouragement. Writing is a very solitary process and it’s always nice to connect with like-minded people. Then the election happened and—well, let’s just say a lot of those people weren’t who I thought they were. I’m in touch with some of them still, but over email.

Basically, there’s nothing left for me on Twitter anymore. If I want to meet writers, there are better websites out there, plus I have some Twitter friends who have become email friends. If I want to speak Russian, there’s iTalki. I recently reactivated my account and hope to actually learn how to use it this time around. And if I want to network with other book lovers, Goodreads has always been way better for this than Twitter.

I doubt I’ll delete my Twitter account anytime soon. It can be a great resource for connecting with some indie authors I like. (Though now that I think about it, I have those people’s email addresses too!) I just… don’t really see the point of Twitter anymore. I don’t dislike it strongly like I do Facebook or Snapchat (I have proudly never used the latter); I just feel neutral about Twitter. I don’t genuinely like it the way I do Pinterest.

In general, I do think cutting back—way back—on social media use is a good thing. I saw we bring back blogging. Blogging may have been the “original social media” in that it had comments, which let people interact with each other, but it has largely fallen by the wayside since the advent of social media. That’s too bad because blogging allows for more substantial analysis and discussions than social media does.

What are your thoughts, readers? Have you soured on social media and cut back? Or never used it at all? Let me know in the comments!