Tag Archives: blogging

Happy Trails, Part 69

Blog-writing remains one of my current passions.

It gives me immense satisfaction in this era of retirement. I wrote opinion articles for many years as a print journalist. Then I stopped being a print journalist.

But I didn’t stop writing opinion pieces. I just post them now online. They get distributed via this blog platform. I have my share of subscribers to the blog and for that I am grateful. My aim is to grow that subscriber list.

I distribute the blog posts through various social media. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are my main vehicles of conveyance.

Here’s one aspect of that process that I want to discuss briefly: Facebook prompts some serious arguments among those who read these posts on that medium.

To be candid, I have a sort of out-of-body experience as I watch these folks argue among themselves.

Someone might comment on a blog post; someone else then might respond Person No. 1’s comment; Person No. 1 then might respond to the response.

And … off they go.

They’re snarling and growling at each other. Occasionally, these exchanges get intensely personal. I have read actual name-calling, although those instances are rare. What happens is that someone might insult some else’s intelligence. In one recent exchange, one of the quarrelers accused  another one of being unable to understand what he reads; thus, one guy accused the other one of being a dim bulb.

I have no particular desire to stop these exchanges. I just choose to stay away from them. No, I don’t mean to suggest that I “stay above” these arguments. I just don’t have the stomach, let alone the time, to engage in continual back-and-forth arguments that at times seem as though they have no end.

One of the lessons I carried with me from print opinion journalism to full-time blogging is that nothing I write is going to change anyone’s mind. We all have our biases. We have our own set of values, most of which were formed when we were, oh, much younger … if not when when we were children.

I prefer to state my case on this blog. And then walk away to the next topic. Oh, I might quibble and quarrel with someone, but I’m only good for about three or maybe four responses; and, yes, I’ve gone beyond that a time or three. Then I’ve had enough.

The way I see it, my relative lack of fighting spirit preserves the love I have for this new retirement adventure.

Oh, how I love blogging.

Sharing some good news about this blog

I feel the need to share a bit of good news about High Plains Blogger.

The old year is about to become history, and I want to thank readers of this blog for reading these musings and sharing them when you feel compelled to do so.

2017 gave High Plains Blogger its most page views in a calendar year, most unique visitors, best daily views/visitors average over the course of the year, best monthly views/visitors average.

I thank you for that.

My goal with this blog has been to expand its reach. My Word Press enables me to look daily on the worldwide reach of this blog. During the course of 2017, my blog was seen in virtually all of North and South America, most of Europe, a huge chunk of Asia (and we can include Australasia) and a growing portion of Africa. All told, more than 150 nations were represented in the past year by High Plains Blogger readers.

Much of my attention in the coming year will continue to be on politics and public policy. As those of you who follow this blog know, however, I’ll likely spend more blog-writing energy commenting on retirement and the joy it brings my wife and me as we continue our ongoing transition to this new way of life.

Bear with me on that. I simply enjoy sharing these outlooks with those of you who might be heading in the same direction we are heading.

Oh, but this is an election year. Political junkie that I am, I will be unable to contain myself as I comment on what I see occurring on the myriad campaign trails across this great country of ours.

For now, I simply want to say “thank you” for giving High Plains Blogger its best year yet.

Happy New Year. Let’s enjoy the ride together.

Blog logs another year; the fun will continue

Another year as a full-time blogger is about to fall by the wayside.

High Plains Blogger has been at full throttle for more than five years. Given that I no longer work for a living, I am spending a lot of time — some might argue an inordinate amount of it — at a keyboard pounding out musings/spewage on this and/or that issue of the day; I like sprinkling the blog with what I call “life experience” posts, which comprise mostly thoughts about retirement and pet parenthood of the most lovable puppy God ever created.

My daily “hit” count continues to grow. 2017 produced my best-yet yearly total of page views and unique visitors. I’m getting my share of “likes” and commentary from readers.

The blog will continue into 2018 and I hope well beyond.

The only issue I have yet to resolve with the blog is what to call it. I came up with the name High Plains Blogger as sort of a two-pronged tribute: One was to the location where my wife and I have lived for more than two decades, on the High Plains of Texas; the other was to pay a small tribute to one of my favorite film stars, Clint Eastwood, one of whose films is “High Plains Drifter.”

We’ll be relocating — we hope soon — to North Texas. I am torn between changing the name to a more generic title; I have a working name in mind, but I haven’t yet made that decision.

You see, High Plains Blogger has developed something of a following that I don’t want to jeopardize; and by “following,” I don’t mean to imply that everyone is a fan. The blog has its critics.

But as the old year passes on and we welcome the new one, I feel the need to tell the whole wide world — or at least the portion of it that cares to hear this news — that I intend to keep up the pace of commentary for as long as I am able.

My strongest hope of all is that I remain able to a long time.

Happy New Year.

Break from politics? Umm, not this year, folks

The past couple of years have enticed High Plains Blogger — meaning me — to take a break from political commentary during the Christmas-New Year holiday period.

I am not going to take such a break this year.

I decided to stay in the game, but with one important caveat: I am going to refrain from some of the occasionally harsh rhetoric I use to describe certain politicians with whom I disagree.

You know about whom I refer, in particular.

There are others, to be sure. But my intention for the next few days will be to keep a civil tongue in my mouth — so to speak — and offer criticism without referencing the president in ways that I have been prone to do on occasion.

It’s my way of adhering to some semblance of civility and decency during this holy time.

It’s a joyful season for my family and me. Indeed, I intend to avoid discussing politics with friends and family members on Christmas day. Those who read this blog, thus, are forewarned. No discussion of the president, his administration, his policies, his pronouncements … nothin’, man!

I might, time permitting on Christmas, take a moment to salute a pol or two who does something that merits praise.

That would enable me to maintain the Christmas spirit … wouldn’t it?

For now, I’ll try my level best to keep the dagger sheathed, the arrows in the quiver … whatever!

The coming year promises to provide plenty of ample targets of opportunity. Hey, it’s an election year!

Enjoy yourselves.

Lesson learned about marketing a blog

I have just received a valuable lesson in marketing and (if you’ll pardon the expression) self-promotion.

It was delivered to me in the lobby of a movie theater by a woman who had a kind word about the work I used to do.

I purchased a ticket to a film I went to see with my son. When I stepped away from the ticket counter, a nice lady said, “I love your work at the paper, John.” I turned to see who made the remark.

The woman said she “I love what you write,” and gave me a thumbs-up. I thought for an instant: How do I handle this?

“Well, thank you, but I’ve been gone (from the Amarillo Globe-News) for five years now,” I said. The lady looked surprised. “You have?” she asked. “Yes, nearly five years now,” I said.

“Well, I’m embarrassed,” she said. “It’s OK, no worries,” I said.

Then she pivoted. “Well, I miss you.” I thanked her again and went on my way.

OK, where’s the lesson? I should’ve been carrying my business-card wallet with cards identifying me as the author of High Plains Blogger. You see, that way I could have just handed her a card and said, “I’m still writing. This is what I’m doing now.”

Simple, yes? Of course it is! That’s going to be my standard operating procedure from this day forward.

To be candid, I’m kicking myself in the backside as I write this brief blog post.

Five years after quitting my job I’m still getting these kinds of greetings from strangers. To be totally honest, I find it gratifying, even when I meet folks who might have disagreed with what I wrote for the Globe-News back in The Day.

***

Spoiler alert: I’m planning to post a blog entry in a few days commemorating the five-year anniversary of my departure from daily print journalism. That event hit me hard in the moment … but life has turned out to be far better than I ever imagined.

No longer missing the sniping from left and right

I once posted a blog item about two fellows with whom I had a sort of professional relationship.

One is an ultraconservative firebrand; the other is an ultraliberal firebrand. I offered the notion that I must be doing something right to have angered both of them for essentially the same reason: I tilt too far the other way.

Here is what I wrote in July 2010.

Barbs from the left and the right

I was working full time at the Amarillo Globe-News then, as editor of the Opinion pages. I would leave that job about two years later. I’m still blogging my brains out.

What I find refreshing about blogging in this context — as a retired former journalist — is that I no longer have to argue with critics who say I tilt too far in the opposite direction.

I tell people now — and I’ll reiterate it here — that I am now free to speak without apology. It’s not that I ever apologized for what I wrote when I was a working print editorialist. It’s just that I felt the need to correct whatever misinterpretation a critic would level at me.

“Your paper is too liberal,” they might say. “That rag of yours is too conservative,” others might say. No one can say that about this blog.

As the sayings go: “It is what it is,” and “What you see is what you get.”

As time marches on since my departure from daily print journalism I find myself separating myself more easily from the regular occurrences that would develop, such as the one noted in that July 2010 blog post.

I love telling friends with whom I cross paths that these days I am: unfettered, unchained, unrestrained, unleashed, uncaged, untethered, unrestricted … you can put the prefix “un” in front of any descriptive term you want.

That’s me. I’m having a blast, man.

Happy Trails, Part 15

I don’t get this question very often, but I have heard it from a few of my friends: What hobbies are you going to be able to enjoy now that you’re retired?

Hobbies? I am not a hobby kind of guy.

I am not a hunter or much of a fisherman. I like to hike in the wild, which my wife and I do together … but I don’t consider “hiking” to be a hobby. I don’t play board games and I haven’t played a hand of poker since I was in the Army a century or two ago.

If pressed to declare a hobby, I’m going to say that I am doing it at this very minute. I am writing this blog, which I suppose you could call a hobby, given that I enjoy it greatly.

Some of my better friends have handed me compliments over the volume of blogs I post daily. “You are so damn prolific,” said one of my dearest friends, who lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and son. I tell her, “Well, it’s what I do.”

I don’t intend to let up on pursuing this hobby of mine even as my wife and I get deeper into full-time retirement.

I’ve griped at times about the Internet and what it has done to the industry where I worked for 37 years. Newspapers are struggling to find their way as the Internet takes bigger bites out of daily print circulation. Newspaper publishers are looking for business models that allow them to keep making money while changing to a “digital presence.”

The Internet, though, does provide yours truly a forum to keep writing — some would say “spewing” — opinions about this and/or that public policy issue.

I won’t limit the blog to those matters. I want to comment also on “life experience,” which more or less is what this post is all about.

I guess retirees need hobbies to keep them fresh and reasonably alert. Therefore, I’ll keep writing this blog.

Full-time blogging is just so much fun

retirement.pic_

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

I feel compelled to give you an update on the status of this blog.

I call it High Plains Blogger because that’s where I live: on the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle; the Llano Estacado; or what I call — with great affection, of course — the Texas Tundra.

I created it in 2012 after leaving a career in daily print journalism. The end of that career came rather quickly. It wasn’t how I envisioned a nearly 37-year career would end. I’ve told folks for years now that all I wanted was a going-away party, with a sheet cake and frosting that had a message wishing well and thanking me for a job well done.

It didn’t happen that way … but what the hey, that’s life, man.

I created this blog and was able to transfer a lot of the blogging I’d done at the Amarillo Globe-News into High Plains Blogger’s archives.

My traffic of late has shown tremendous growth. Indeed, over the lifetime of High Plains Blogger my daily “hits” — which include page views and something called “unique visitors” — has increased about five-fold.

http://highplainsblogger.com/

It’s not where I want it just yet, but it’s creeping its way toward a more acceptable level. I don’t have an end point. I haven’t said, “When it gets to a certain level, I think I’ll cap it right there.” Oh, no. You can’t have too many readers, too many followers, too many people willing to offer comment.

My intention is to keep self-promoting whenever I feel it is appropriate. Today seems like an appropriate time to call attention to this blog.

Full-time blogging is far more fun than I ever imagined it would be. Yes, I enjoyed writing for The Man. I did it for nearly four decades. I enjoyed some success. I had a hiccup or two along the way.

All told, it was a career made more fun by the people I have encountered along the way and some of the amazing things I was able to do: Flying over an erupting volcano in March 1980 on a picture-taking mission was one of them; landing on the deck of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in 1993, the USS Carl Vinson, and then being catapulted off the deck is another.

Blogging, though, is a new career I intend to pursue for as long as I can as I enter full-time retirement. You see, this full-time blogging pursuit is something that co-exists quite nicely with full-time retirement. Neither title — blogger and retiree — is mutually exclusive.

So, with that, I say “thank you” to those who read this blog regularly and to those who have offered comment. Yes, I even want to thank the critics. You know who you are. I try my best not to take it personally, as long as the criticism doesn’t call me nasty names.

Let’s enjoy the ride for as long as we can.

Blog streak looks like it's about to end

This blog post is going to be — and I’ll be fairly brief — about my blog.

High Plains Blogger has been on a roll of late.

It has set seven consecutive records for monthly page views and unique visitors. I’m quite proud of that streak, and I’ve been none too bashful about sharing the good news with my social media friends.

April isn’t looking so good. Just six days into the month and I’m sensing a trend that suggests my streak is going to stop at seven. That’s all right. I’ve enjoyed a good run and I’m hopeful it will resume soon.

This blogging adventure has pretty much consumed my life for the past, oh, couple of years.

I don’t have a full-time job. I’ve three part-time jobs — and I enjoy them all immensely. Two of them involve writing: One of them is for Panhandle PBS, based at Amarillo College; the other one, which I just started in early February, is for KFDA-NewsChannel 10, the CBS-TV affiliate in Amarillo. They’re both blogs. The PBS blog discusses public affairs programming; the NewsChannel 10 blog looks at on-going news stories in our region and the station is good enough to broadcast an on-air report based on the blog I’ve posted on the station’s website.

The third job is as a customer service concierge with a Toyota dealership here in Amarillo.

But writing is what I love to do. I was blessed to pursue a fulfilling career in print journalism. It was a 37-year run that ended in late August 2012. My work with public and commercial TV stations allows me to continue to working on my craft.

My first post-newspaper-career passion, though, is my own blog. I truly enjoy venting, ranting, raving, commenting, critiquing public affairs on my blog. Occasionally I veer into what my wife and I call “life experience.”

I guess the purpose here is to ask you to keep reading High Plains Blogger. If you think you want to share it with your friends, well, have at it. I’m anxious to reach more people and to have them comment on my musings.

Do not worry about hurting my feelings if you disagree with my particular political slant. Most of my neighbors and most of the people I encounter daily disagree with me. That’s the nature of living in this part of the world.

Let me know what you think.

 

Blog starting to get traction

Blogging has become something of an addiction for me.

No, I don’t need an intervention. It is a way for me to continue doing what I have loved doing for nearly 40 years, which is to string words into sentences, and sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into essays.

I do this because it makes me happy.

My daily journalism career ended in August 2012, but I’ve continued writing.

High Plains Blogger has been my release of sorts. I am happy to report some good news regarding this blog.

I have just set my sixth consecutive monthly record for page views and unique visitors. The previous record, incidentally, came in January — which has 31 days; February, of course, has just 28 days, but another record fell this month anyway. I feel like sharing that with those of you who follow the blog, are kind enough to read it and some of whom are kind enough — or angry enough — to provide responses to the opinions expressed on this blog.

Are my numbers great? I don’t consider them great. Some of my friends also have longstanding blogs and they report the number of daily “hits” that far exceed my relatively meager totals.

That’s the bad news. The good news? Well, my blog’s monthly totals have grown more than 200 percent since I moved the blog onto this Word Press server in July 2013. The way I figure it, if it grows another 200 percent of so in the next 18 months, then we’ll be talking about some serious numbers.

Several aspects about the blog’s growth intrigue me. The blog hits are coming from all around the globe. Readers from virtually all of Latin America have looked at the blog. Asia — from the Middle East to the Orient — is filled in with hits, along with Europe. And just recently, viewers in Africa have been looking at the blog.

Those who read the blog know that it’s mostly political, looking at issues from a center-left perspective. I seek to veer from the humdrum of politics on occasion to talk about family matters and to look ahead to the day my wife and I retire fully and we hit the road in our recreational vehicle.

The blog has given me joy in writing it. I don’t expect it to be a joyful experience for everyone who reads it, given that not everyone agrees with my world view. That’s all right, as long as folks remain engaged.

Thank you for reading High Plains Blogger. It’s been a hoot.

Much more is on its way.