Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rear-viewing Year of Blogging

I started blogging just about a year ago, having decided my output would be three times a month, which breaks down to one about every ten-day period. For some people, that's way too seldom. Well, that's the pace I can live with. I want to put out quality, well-thought-out writing that frequently includes links, which are often time-consuming to vet.

Journey start
I joined my writing clublet, TheWriteJob, a little over a year ago to meet other writers and would-be writers. The community blog sparked my interest in contributing to it, and to eventually launch my own blog. After having published six articles there, I registered for my own blog. I ported my previous articles over (truncated and linked the earlier articles); and have been publishing here since.

Theme
In setting up my blogspot, I thought about my theme. I came up with "writing mostly for language enlightenment, entertainment, and a-muse-meant". It became more of a guide for me to determine my article topics. Low standards—if I fulfill any of those broad categories for an article, I succeed in achieving my topic goal.

Theme expansion into categories
A few months ago, I added a line to the theme, as I felt categories were starting to pop up. My category labels—language, tech communications, EZ recipes, food, wordplay, humor, music, tech topics, and how-to's—also form the basis of my article today, compiling and analyzing stats of my year in blogging. I'm omitting discussion of Google Analytics. I use them, but don't have enough of a fan base or readership to report anything impressive. :-)

First compilation file
*LinkedIn membership required to view this file*
Awhile back I had created an compilation file that included the article title, linked url, publish timeframe (early, mid, late part of specified month), and summary. The format was 2-column landscape. Recently, I decided to redo the compilation file. Numerous times of adding and removing column breaks with every update to make the file look nice started to irk me.

Second compilation file (Newer! Improved! Now with category descriptors!)
*LinkedIn membership required to view this file*
The impetus to change the formatting was wanting to categorize the articles, logically the descriptors I thought of. Also, I knew I'd want to write and time an article pertaining to the 1-year milestone. I removed the column formatting and breaks, then converted it into an 11-column table. The first column has the title, URL, and summary, the second column has the date I published, and the rest of the columns have the category descriptors and check marks. Because food is near and dear to my heart, I highlighted food rows in yellow to make them stand out.

For each article, my new compilation file has check marks in the categories I consider appropriate. For further enhancement, I highlighted the rows that had food themes. I did pause over designating some category names for a few articles. For instance, can a food article be a tech article? Yes, I decided "Wanted Unholed Lotta Bagel" fit the descriptor of tech topics because of history, techniques, and related background.

I waffled (food!) over articles about language and technical communications. Most that fit in one category also fit the other category. In looking at my table (place for food!), language was more predominant than my profession of tech comm (writing, editing).

Stats (drum roll! yum!)
Since September 6, 2009, I have published 36 articles. I don't include the current article in my stats, although I will have updated my table to include it (code green). Deciding categories was the longest part of the process. The fun part was tallying everything—the number of check marks for each descriptor, the number of checkmarks for each article—first for each of the five pages of my printout (yes, hardcopy!), then adding them up. Natch, if I had a LOT to tally, I would have put everything into Excel. I used Word. (Gasp!)

Category
Qty check marks
Language
20
Tech communications
14
EZ recipes
8
Food
11
Wordplay
15
Humor
21
Music
10
Tech topics
16
How to's
18

Articles with the most descriptors—a 3-way tie with 6 descriptors each
Fish Fries Telephone
Wanted Unholed Lotta Bagel
Technical Communications Means

Articles with the 2nd most descriptors—a 5-way tie with 5 descriptors each
Vocabs of Steel
Greater Less Fewer More Thans--More or Less
Bad-Prose Rants from Lady Wawa
Pronunciations Heck with Hermione and Homage
Color N R Lives

Rest of article quantities (titles omitted)
Note to novice statisticians: I tic-marked the article quantities and added them up to confirm they total 36—no duplicated counts and no undercounts.

Qty
articles
Qty
descriptors
2
4
10
3
4
2
2
1

Categories for this article
For this article, I would categorize it into technical communication, food (coupla nibbles!), humor (minor rib ticklers!), tech topics, and how to's. I don't consider light mentioning of the other categories to quite warrant checking off all the descriptors. :-) Although I did not include numbered steps that indicate a process, I think there's enough of a road map feel here for people who want to put information on a grid.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Convenient Triple-dose Pnutty Butter Cooky Batch

AHOT (Austin Heart of Texas) Event

AHOT, an organization for printed circuit board design professionals, recently held its annual Vendor Day. It was well-attended—maybe 100ish. Renowned speaker Tom Hausherr, EDA Library Product Manager at Mentor Graphics Corporation, delivered 4 different presentations. The event had 16 sponsors this year, up from 12 last year. You can download the announcement pdf with hyperlinks to the sponsors and speaker if you are on LinkedIn.

Cooky Musings

I decided to take in cookies as I did last year. I'd been wanting to try out a boxed peanut butter cookie mix. Both Krusteaz and Betty Crocker put out a peanut butter cookie mix. Each brand's box contents weigh 17.5 ounces and call for 1 egg, 1 T water, and 3 T oil. The standard yield is 36 2-inch diameter cookies. (I myself wound up with 44.)

I like PB cookies okay, but think of them as somewhat boring. I decided to turbocharge the peanut flavor. I started out mixing the batter according to the box instructions, then added peanuts and Wilton Peanut Butter Flavor Candy Melts—for sale at bakery supply stores and craft shops. Other than dose up the flavor with chopping up and mixing in the two additives, I didn't modify the box recipe.

After I removed a baked batch out of the oven, I was surprised that the chopped candies seemed to have disappeared. I anticipated they would be like chocolate chips or chocolate chunks and be visible. I'm not that knowledgeable about the Wilton candies, but it's possible that they might have a lower melting temperature than chocolate chips and just melted into the cookies during baking. In any case, I received rave reviews for the hefty peanut flavor.

It did take me awhile to settle on a name, although I kicked around other titles, such as "Xtra P-nutty PB Cookies", PB and Pnutty Madness Cookies", "P-nut Trio Cookies", "Triple P-nut cookies", and "P-nut Trilogy". Ed E, a Vendor Day attendee and enthusiastic praiser of my cookies, was the one who suggested "P-nut Trilogy".

Ingredients

To keep the recipe looking uncomplicated, I've listed a somewhat compressed list of ingredients. People experienced enough with cooky baking will have no problems whipping up a batch. Novices might need to peruse the list a little more closely.

  • 1 pkg peanut butter cooky mix, ingredients stirred together per instructions (usually requiring combining of water, egg, oil)
  • 4 oz. peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 4 oz peanut butter flavored candies, coarsely chopped (e.g., Wilton brand)

Equipment

  • cooky pan(s)
  • pastry blender
  • bowl
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoon(s)
  • small rubber spatula
  • cooky spatula to lift and transfer baked cookies
  • cooling rack for done cookies

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Pour the cooky mix powder into a medium-large mixing bowl.
  3. In a cup, combine the egg, water, and oil.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the larger container and use a pastry blender to stir the ingredients together.
  5. Stir in the chopped peanuts.
  6. Stir in the chopped candies.
  7. Use a round tablespoon to scoop the dough, then level it.
  8. Use the spatula to turn and drop the spoon's dough onto the cooky sheet. (This dough was very dense. After a few dollops, I put on vinyl gloves to shape and dispense the dollops individually.)
  9. Flatten and spread the dough using the bottom of a glass.
  10. Bake for about 8 minutes.
  11. Use the cooky spatula to lift and transfer the done cookies onto cooling rack.
Additional Past Cooky Recipes

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fish Fries Telephone

I intend for the title to evoke huhs for its lack of commas. Blogspot bases URL assignments on article titles and places hyphens as term separators. I’d lose the commas in the URL anyway, and my omission of them gives me an opportunity to lightly inject a writing point. Use commas to separate series of items in written text—in sentences and phrases, bulleted lists, email address fields (Microsoft Outlook being a notable exception for use of semicolon separators instead), and numerous keyword fields.

I initially wanted to write about fast food, which isn’t always fast, by the way. I then thought about several fooderies where the workers seem to toss salt on the fries by the cupful. (Assaulting fries! No pinches here!) I also thought about one particular fried fish chain restaurant in the area that has, um, gone underwater at three different locations within the last few years. I eventually mentally meandered to Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s “Telephone” song, for which several video versions and parodies have been viewable on YouTube for the last few months.

We now reach my parody (abbreviated) of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”. To keep this article reasonably wholesome, I have omitted hyperlinks. (I have dropped some un-breadcrumbs so readers can locate videos and lyrics of “Telephone” and parodies.)

Hello. Hello. I would like to place my order,
Gimme bundled special with a double fishburger,
Make my soda cola and my side curly fries,
Here’s my money. Don’t drop it. I’m handing two fives.
Here are two fives.
Here are two fives.
Here’s my money. Don’t drop it. I’m handing two fives.

Oky dokey, don’t get prickly and defensive,
I didn’t think you’d go rantin’ and have a snit,
Mellow out now. I’m gonna hail your manager,
Yoohoo, manager. Wouldja come over here?
Wouldja come over here?
Wouldja come over here?
Youhoo, manager. Wouldja come over here?

Stop salting, stop salting. You are ruining my fries,
They’re way too salty though I’ve had just one bite,
Why do you gotta throw on way too much salt?
If my blood pressure climbs, it’ll be all your fault.

Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick.
Too much sodium.
Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick.
Can’t eat ‘em.
Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick.
More tator taste, please.
Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick.
Beggin’ on my knees.

This part’s way too fast, run-on syllables,
Gonna write a couple of bloddy duhs,
Gaga and par’dists sing their stuff so fast,
I’m so amazed and say to them “Congrats!”

Might be able to eke just one more rhyme,
Think I’m starting to hurt and lose my mind,
Getting close to finishing this section,
I’ll never memorize this confe-ection.

Confe-ection, confe-ection.

To gaga more, please visit “Bad-Prose Rants from Lady Wawa”, my abbreviated parody of “Bad Romance”.

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