Category Archives: blog

Why do old posts suddenly catch a lot of people’s attention?

Standard

When I log on to my WordPress dashboard, I see how things are going. Quite often, posts I think will have traction aren’t noticed while silly throw-away posts attract hundreds of readers.

Sometimes, I do a Google search to see if the subject of an old post that suddenly has hundreds of hits has been in the news. This time, it’s my 2011 post Many Glacier Hotel 1963, where the fantasy began. Why are people suddenly reading this old post?

  • I check the news to see if the hotel burnt down, had a string of murders in the basement, or got sued for not having an elevator in the annex.
  • As far as I can see from scanning Amazon, no new books have come out about the hotel that might cause people to put it into their search engines for more information.
  • President Trump isn’t staying there, nor has he unleashed a Tweet Storm about the place.
  • My publisher hasn’t made a surprise announcement to the press that I’m going to be there to talk about my two novels set in the historic structure.

So, I’ve got nothing. If any of you who went there see this post, I would like to know why you went there.

This is very a perplexing thing for a blogger. Why people read what they read. Lately, I saw that a lot of people arrived on my blog after a search for subject XYZ. So, I wrote a post about XYZ. Nobody read it even though my search terms index kept showing me that people were looking for more information about it.

Sometimes I think the Feds are doing this to make me go crazy to they can put me in a home, a One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest kind of home. Why would they do that, you wonder. My guess is that it’s because my alter ego Jock Stewart has contributed a lot of guest posts on this blog that made fun of the Feds. (Lately, the real news has become so crazy that Stewart couldn’t think of any way to satirize it.)

Okay, let’s pretend the Feds aren’t going it. Maybe some of you are doing it. You probably have a ringleader, some tough guy or badass chick from Chicago who calls the shots. Why would s/he do this? Kicks? Too much free time? A dislike of bloggers? Nurse Ratched withholds their meds unless they click on old blogs of mine to make me wonder why they’re clicking on old blogs of mine.

I’m sure there are other possibilities. The Russians hacked into my blog or maybe the Mafia did it. Or, possibly aliens from a place where no one has gone before.

Like those cop shows where a crime is committed in the middle of a crowded mall where nobody saw nothin’, I strongly suspect nobody knows why everyone’s headed out to that old Many Glacier Hotel post.

Okay, I can play that game, too, because my hacker software knows who you are and what you did. <g>

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of fantasy and magical realism novels which, after youve read this post, shouldn’t surprise you.

Advertisements

If you don’t know where you’re going. . .

Standard

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra

This blog came into being after I tinkered with earlier blogs on Blogger, MySpace, Typepad, and Xanga. Since this blog doesn’t have a real niche, you might say that in all its incarnations I never knew where I was going. Except in wholly practical matters like getting on a plane and ending up where my ticket says I’m supposed to end up, I much prefer not to be going to any particular place. I dislike planning.

I took a look at the first post on this blog in 2008 to see if I began with a plan, forgot about it, and then decided there was no need for a plan:

As of 2008

Photo by João Barbosa on Unsplash

A friend asked in a recent post on her MySpace blog “How Do You Define Success?”

Essentially, her answer was finding the freedom to be herself and to follow her dreams. The challenge for her–for many of us–was that while following our dreams requires a measure of security and financial well-being, if we spend too much time or stress establishing that, we may not ever get to our dreams.

My answer to her question was similar to hers. Success to me is doing what I’m here to do: making an inner journey and writing about it. This blog represents my random thoughts, and a lot of yours, about the challenges we face and about the things we see along the trail.

I’m influenced, as many of you can tell, by the work of such writers as Edward Abbey and Colin Fletcher and by the dedication of volunteers in such organizations as the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy. I’m also influenced by Jane Roberts’ “Seth Books,” by the writings of Carlos Castaneda and Caroline Myss.

As we walk the trail, we learn–as Carlos was taught–that our outer journey is a reflexion of our inner journey and, conversely, that if we are impeccable in what we do in the physical world, we will be more centered within.

For me, success is being on the path and experiencing what I find there and then putting those feelings into words on the page.

What about you?

As of Right Now

My novels and blog posts still reflect my inner journey–more or less. The journey has been satisfying, if not profitable. This doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done better, though I’m not sure better would have yielded the same lessons.

What about you? Have you changed your basic philosophy and/or how you view success since 2008?

I envy people who keep diaries, real diaries rather than those they write in such a way that people years down the road will read them with great admiration. I could never do that. I either couldn’t stay with it or I couldn’t stay with it without fictionalizing what was happening while it was happening. Maybe the embellishments were the real me. I don’t have a clue, and that’s probably just as well. But those can do keep honest diaries can go back and see what the hell they were thinking long, long ago.

I think this blog is just as chaotic now as it was when it began. I like it that way because it makes every day a blank slate where everything is possible. Plans seem to limit what is possible because they’re based on preconceived notions about what I ought to be doing tomorrow or next week.

My wife will tell you that–like most men–I don’t like to stop and ask directions. Frankly, I don’t know why that lack of practicality is a “male thing.” If we’re on the way to the hospital ER or maybe to pick up the Pulitzer Prize, I’d ask somebody where we were and where we needed to go.

Otherwise, I don’t want to know. I want the road to surprise me.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the Florida Folk Magic Stories, three novels in one e-book.

 

 

If you’re naughty. Santa leaves SPAM in your stocking

Standard

Not the SPAM in a can, but the crap that shows up uninvited in your e-mail inbox and in the comments section of your blog. Fortunately, WordPress weeds out a lot of the junk. Google’s Gmail separates a fair amount of the annoying stuff, but I still get a lot of e-mails asking for money, asking for me to sign urgent petitions in which a million signatures are (for reasons never specified) “needed by midnight,” and offers far more Viagra than anyone would consider using in a hundred lifetimes.

Most of the SPAM weeded out by WordPress starts with something lame: “Hi, I want you to know that I read your blog every day and intend to tell my friends about it.” And then there’s a link to an online store or service that I don’t want.

My assumption is that as Christmas approaches, Santa reads the news and discovers that coal is really bad or really good depending on your politics. So, after a discussion with Mrs. Claus, he decided not to touch the stuff. Plus, many of today’s young people don’t equate coal in the stocking as evidence that their wrongdoings have been noted on the naughty list.

But SPAM, how nasty is that? It’s just another advertisement at best. At worst, it’s a way of opening a doorway to endless malware, viruses, and perhaps death. Of course, most of the medications we take indicate that death is a potential side effect, so how bad can death be? From Santa’s viewpoint, your friendly pharmacist in the white coat pushes more death than the anonymous spammer who promises riches in the Bitcoin market.

Most spammers who try to sneak their comments into this blog are trying to sell software that will write this blog for me and/or monetize it in some way that will be better for me–and any reader who believes the pitch–than winning the lottery. The pitches often begin with: “I notice you don’t have much new material on this blog.” Gosh, they probably sweet talk everybody like that. And then they continue with: “Most bloggers aren’t writers, so we’ll supply a slew of curated crap that will fill up your week’s post with the kind of stuff people want to read. You won’t have to write another word.”

My only question is this: “will the people who read that curated crap be so happy and inspired they’ll buy my novels?”

The spammers say, “Malcolm, of course, they will. You’ll be the new James Patterson.”

Wow, really? Where do I sign?

“Right here where you promise to hand over your next child, your house, your Jaguar, and the access codes to all of your bank accounts.”

Does that sound good to you? No, I didn’t think so. The thing is, the SPAM industry keeps trying to sell it to me. Apparently, it’s illegal to harm those people or even to create a virus that goes back to their computers and fries the hell out of them (the computers). Maybe I should call a conjure lady and ask her to put a hex on them, some kind of plague maybe like frogs in the kitchen and wasps in the bedroom.

Christmas SPAM seems to be the worst SPAM. Supposedly, if I sign up, I’ll experience joy and love and a guarantee that my stocking will never be filled with coal or more SPAM. Gosh, if that doesn’t represent the true magic and spirit of Christmas, I don’t know what does.

I almost feel like wishing the spammers Merry Christmas. Hmm, maybe next year. Between now and then, I’ll try to stay off the “naughty list.”

This has been a wonderful Christmas, one that didn’t require SPAM or smoke and mirrors to make it happen. I hope your Christmas Day is unfolding the same way.

Malcolm

 

 

 

 

Midweek Musings, (AKA random stuff)

Standard
  • My latest book Florida Folk Magic Stories is now part of an Amazon giveaway. Go here for a chance to win.
  • Sometimes I think the so-called, all-important “writer’s platform” looks more like a gallows.
  • Right now, I can’t tell whether my discomfort from an inflammation is coming from the disease or the antibiotic.
  • I’m discouraged when long-time online friends leave Facebook because, as they see it, the site has become toxic. I admit that I try to avoid most political discussions there because I’m more of a moderate than a hardcore Democrat or Republican and feel like I’m getting beaten up by both sides. One can avoid that by not talking politics.
  • Dang, I accidentally bought a new copy of a James Patterson book that I’d already read. Unfortunately, it’s one of his weaker novels. It has a trick ending and there is no excuse for it. It’s called The Store. Forget about it.
  • I keep wondering if the female contestants chosen to be on “Survivor” are those with the most cleavage and the skimpiest bathing suits. So much for women being considered equal when they dress like that.
  • When I look at a lot of news sources, I see many things going on that aren’t covered by either CNN or FOX. Those two networks seem obsessed with running talking heads show of “experts” who are really liberal or really conservative. Unfortunately, a lot of people believe the opinion shows on both networks are gospel.
  • Minnesota is suing “big pharma” for an exorbitant increase in the cost of insulin. It’s sort of like buying a pair of pliers one year for $12.00 and then a few years down the road seeing the price jump to $120.00. There’s no excuse for that kind of price gouging.
  • Writers aren’t immune to the debates going on in the country. Some writers have found a way to speak out in those debates through their poetry, novels, and essays. Not all of us can do that. It doesn’t mean we don’t care. It means that the kind of writing we do doesn’t lend itself to work focused on the latest issues. We always hope what we write will make a difference, even if that difference is indirect.

Malcolm

Suddenly the blog is like chopped liver.

Standard

There are weeks when a hundred or so people show up. And there are weeks when almost nobody shows up. One is tempted to ask, “What am I, chopped liver?”

If you love chopped liver, no offense is intended even though I might wonder if you were brainwashed.

Mother tried to sneak liver into our menu about once a month. Nobody liked it. Maybe she learned about it in Home Ec. Maybe her parents forced her to eat it and she was carrying on the tradition. Even ketchup couldn’t save it.

Chopped Liver with Egg – Wikipedia photo

If you know how search engines work, I have a question for you. When the subject of a post, often one written several years ago, isn’t part of the national debate, what causes people to suddenly click on it, seemingly in groups? It would make more sense if they left comments or posted links to those posts on Twitter or Facebook. But, they aren’t doing that (I don’t think).

This week it’s my Seminole Pumpkin Fry Bread post from March 2015. I grew up in Florida and often made fry bread. So, when I included fry bread in one of my novels, I wrote a post about it. Now, the post is getting more hits. What’s that about? Do clubs have meetings, pick a post, and then go out and look at it in droves to confuse the blogger? If so, those people are eating too much chopped liver. (By the way, if your mother is serving you liver, a half teaspoon of Tabasco sauce will kill the taste.)

Every week, my post The Bare-Bones Structure of a Fairy Tale gets hundreds of hits. I wrote that post in 2013. The number of hits surprises me. Perhaps more people are reading, writing, and studying fairy tales than I suspected. So many people have stopped by that post, that I’ve updated it with more information and links. Maybe I should add a subliminal spell to that post that draws fairies into every reader’s house. All in good fun, of course. What could possibly go wrong?

The answer, of course, is that those fairies bring you steaming plates of chopped liver.  (By the way, Sriracha sauce makes liver even worse. It makes everything worse. I know, I know, I’m in the minority of people who didn’t jump on the big Sriracha sauce bandwagon, opting to stay with Tabasco.)

Okay, let’s agree to disagree if you like chopped liver or Sriracha sauce, don’t send me any recipes, pamphlets, white papers, or how-to books featuring those things. In fact, if you’re a fan of chopped liver or Sriracha sauce, my advice is to become a contestant on the cooking show called Chopped. That show features mystery baskets of hideous ingredients that regular people have never heard of, much less would even eat.

According to The Weirdest Ingredients Ever Used on ‘Chopped’, here are a few of the show’s strange offerings: Dried fermented scallops, Eyeballs, Scrapple, and Caul fat. If you want to know what any of these things are, click on the link. I’ll warn you now that the article includes pictures. The chef contestants on each show must include all of the mandatory ingredients in each appetizer, entree, and dessert. And, as the show’s host Ted Allen tells them something like, “If your food doesn’t cut it, you’ll be chopped.” (Eliminated in that round of the show.)

In general, Mother made good meals. So, I probably would not have voted to chop her from the family kitchen for serving liver. I came close to saying I was going to start having meals on campus (you have to be crazy to do that) when mother–and apparently everyone else in the neighborhood–went on a weird food fad: baby bees, chocolate-covered ants. My brothers and I were told we had to taste everything on our plates. We forced down the liver with Hunt’s Ketchup (we never ate that swill called “catsup”), but we drew the line at the bees and the ants.

So, now I’m curious: Will people who tend to follow this blog see this post as just more chopped liver?

Malcolm

I do most of the cooking in our house. I have never served liver, chopped or otherwise. It goes without saying that I wouldn’t try to “elevate” the meal, as chef contestants would say, with something hideous like dried tarantula powder.

 

 

What this blog is still all about

Standard

I wrote this post back in 2008. It’s still true today:

A friend asked in a recent post on her MySpace blog “How Do You Define Success?”

Clipart.com graphic

Essentially, her answer was finding the freedom to be herself and to follow her dreams. The challenge for her–for many of us–was that while following our dreams requires a measure of security and financial well-being, if we spend too much time or stress establishing that, we may not ever get to our dreams.

My answer to her question was similar to hers. Success to me is doing what I’m here to do: making an inner journey and writing about it. This blog represents my random thoughts, and a lot of yours, about the challenges we face and about the things we see along the trail.

I’m influenced, as many of you can tell, by the work of such writers as Edward Abbey and Colin Fletcher and by the dedication of volunteers in such organisations as the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy. I’m also influenced by Jane Roberts’ “Seth Books,” by the writings of Carlos Castaneda and Caroline Myss.

As we walk the trail, we learn–as Carlos was taught–that our outer journey is a reflexion of our inner journey and, conversely, that if we are impeccable in what we do in the physical world, we will be more centered within.

For me, success is being on the path and experiencing what I find there and then putting those feelings into words on the page.

What about you?

–Malcolm

 

Your suggested password is BDH#$%cX*%qw

Standard

When My desktop PC had to be taken back to factory settings–which was a lot of trouble–that meant my browsers had to be re-installed. The new versions didn’t know my passwords.

I’m tired of passwords. Every site has a different set of rules about length, special characters, CAPS and lowercase letters. We’re told not to write these down. Many gurus also say don’t allow your browser to remember them for you.

So, when I tried to log on to WordPress today with my new browser, I couldn’t remember my password. I tried all the usual passwords even though we’re not supposed to have usual passwords. I clicked on a link that would allow WordPress to generate and–I swear I’m not making this up–the suggestion looked like this: BDH#$%cX*%qw.

Get real. How the hell can I remember something like that? Perhaps Data on Startrek, the Next Generation can remember that, but otherwise, nobody can. So, I used something easier and wrote it down on a list of 10000000000 other passwords for everybody from my doctor’s office to Microsoft to Amazon to Facebook.

If anyone breaks into my house and finds an empty Funk’s G Hybrid sack beneath the house, they’ll discover my list of passwords. There are snakes and spiders there, so who ever needs to play like they’re me and log on to WordPress and create a fake post will have to be very determined.

I’ve seen enough TV crime shows to know that even if I didn’t need a password and could access my accounts through a fingertip reader, somebody would kill me and use my finger to log on. So, there’s no sure thing, password-wise. The only plus to forgetting and constantly changing my passwords is the fact that we’re told to constantly change our passwords. That means we’ll forget them more often and change them more frequently. Maybe that’s how the whole password thing works.

Now, if I could only remember the danged user names (other than my e-mail address) which a lot of sites require.

Malcolm