On Blog Hops and Challenges

April is shaping up to be a slightly above average month. It’s not fabulous, and it’s not dismal… just slightly above average.

I’m doing the A-to-Z challenge this month, which, all things considered, is not all that much of a challenge, since I make blogging a part of my daily routine, anyway. My theme is the letter M. No, I don’t know what I was thinking. The general idea is that each day, there’s a post with a different letter of the alphabet, and also an M. It’s not a bad idea. It keeps me from settling into the familiar, and I’m learning new things, mostly by diving into wikipedia at the last moment and searching for something—anything–that fits the theme.

I started the month with a modest spike in traffic. Several days a little bit higher than I usually get. And now, that seems to have trailed off.

The past couple of days, I’ve actually been lower than usual. That may be that my readers don’t really want to hear about basketball or physics, and it may be the fact that tracking down those subjects took me longer, so the posts weren’t out anywhere close to my usual time. I’m not sure.

I’m expecting another spike at the end of the week, when I do the StoryTime blog hop. Which, by the way, I’ve worked out a way to fit into the A-to-Z challenge. (So much easier when you get to make things up! Thank you, fiction!)

So, all in all, April will wind up being slightly above average. I’m not knocking it.

The thing is… I’m not sure to what extent it’s the challenge or the hop, itself that drives the numbers. I’m starting to think it may be the interaction, the going out and meeting people. The enthusiasm for it. The sheer convenience of having people listed in one neat, orderly place.

I wind up with good results, whenever I’m out there, starting conversations. But when I do it on my own, I’m looking for people I have a lot in common with, instead of just working down a list.

And I’m usually working on my own blogging platform, so it’s easier for people to follow me and interact than it is when I’m on somebody else’s list. (No, I don’t know whether that’s a good thing in the long run. From time to time, I’ve thought about running a mirrored site, so that one or two of the other platforms get in on it. I don’t know.)

So, I’m thinking about what my next steps should be, and honestly, I think they’re going to be more seeking out people than blog hops or blogging challenges. I know I need to get out there more often.

What do you think? How have you grown your websites and blogs?

A-to-Z Challenge: Quantum Mechanics

So, my q for the day is yet another topic I know little to nothing about, but have happily twisted to support both this blog and various nifty plot developments in my novels. On the bright side, I’ve heard people say that if you think you understand Quantum Mechanics, you don’t. So, clearly, I’m right up there with the best and the brightest.

At least when I throw a party for time travelers, it’s wildly popular, they show up and bring space drugs. Anyway, that’s the way I remember it. And that one guy was a hell of a bongo player.

So, basically–and anyone who was ever a child will understand this–the rules for small things are different than the rules for large things.

Quantum Mechanics would be the set of rules that appear to–but might not–apply to very, very, very small objects. Yup. That does sound familiar.

It also sounds like a great name for a band–if you just added a little sex–something like the Quantum Tantric Mechanics–or for the guy who fixes your space ship or your time machine when you break your drive shaft somewhere in the horse head nebula.

The last book I picked up on the subject–a used copy– happened to be signed by a science-fiction writer who didn’t write the book.

A-to-Z Challenge: Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway

Just in case you missed it, I’m headed to the Pike’s Peak Writers’ conference in a little over a week. So, my mind is already out in Colorado, and look at this, I’ve found a railway just for you to look at.

Remember that hiking path that ends in a parking lot out in California? Well, this is the slightly more historically face-palm version, with trains. Pike’s Peak is named after a man called Zebulon Pike (Imagine having to scream “Zebulon” in bed! His poor wife.) Zebulon never made it to the summit, but they named the mountain after him, and at some point, they named this particular railway after the mountain.

Guess where the railway goes?

Yup. Straight to the summit. Six to Eight times a day.

Poor Zebby.

So, on to the details everybody’s been waiting for. The Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway runs 8.9 miles, between Manitou Springs, and the summit of Pike’s Peak. It is a standard gauge railroad with tracks 4 feet 8 and a half inches wide (as the Great Architect of the Universe intended.) (because narrow gauge is creepy.) It is a cog railway, which means that it has a third track with little teeth, to pull the train up steep places (like, say, a mountain.)

The older engines are on display at Manitou Springs and several museums through Colorado, and some of the historic (but still conveniently functional) engines and cars are dragged out and actually used from time to time.

I’d tell you how perfect and beautiful the scenery is, but I already said it was in Colorado.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

A-to-Z Challenge: Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic is a basketball team based out of Orlando Florida. Basketball is a game for very, extremely tall people, in which they attempt to launch an orange projectile through a net located somewhere in the lower stratosphere.

I was tall, myself, once… and then, the coach realized I was five years older than he thought, and wasn’t on the team in the first place. My parents chuckled for a week, after I asked for money to play this particular sport, and somewhere along the line, my fascination with it died.

Back to Wikipedia.

Apparently, the team has three whole uniforms. There are diagrams. (Okay, so I’m a fan of sports with more minimalist sartorial tastes. Who isn’t?) Sorry, girls. All three uniforms are basically variations on burlap bags.

Blah, blah, blah… started in 1989, and the team mascot is a dragon called Stuff.

You’d be surprised what a short jump it is from basketball to sexual fetishism on wikipedia.

Nope. I have no attention span for statistics, although there are clearly plenty of them..

If anybody has anything to add, go right ahead. I don’t think this particular M caught my attention the way some of the others have.

 

A-to-Z Challenge: M&Ms

Here I am, crawling out of bed on three or four hours worth of sleep to bring you this life-altering post on M&M’s candy pieces.  It just seemed natural to do a double M for the day, and that’s what I came up with first.

M&Ms had the chance to star in the ET movie, but they weren’t willing to pay for the product placement, so now all the little green men eat Reese’s Pieces.

I happen to be all about the peanut butter M&Ms. (In a nostalgic, non-diet busting kind of way.)  Aside from the fact that they’re peanuty without that slightly over-roasted flavor that less discerning people might call “burnt” you can also–if you’re very, very careful– bite the chocolate shell off of the peanut butter core and walk away with a perfect, UFO shaped clump of peanut butter.

What? Everybody deserves a sense of accomplishment.

And then, you eat that lump of peanut butter, too.

Nope. That’s about as zen as I get.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

 

A-to-Z Challenge: Lise Meitner

Lise Meitner was a physicist who laid some of the groundwork for the atomic bomb. She studied independently, since the university of the time did not accept female students, and ultimately took an exam to prove she understood the material. I happen to think skipping the hassle of university classes sounds like a swell idea, personally.

She worked with Max Planck and Otto Hahn (sometimes for free), served as a nurse in World War I, before returning to her research in Berlin.

She lost her job as acting head of the chemistry department at the Kaiser Wilhelm institute after the rise of Hitler, and his race laws, and escaped to the Netherlands.

The fact that she did not share the Nobel Prize with Otto Hahn for work on Nuclear Fission is contributed largely to her gender.

A-to-Z Challenge: Kansas City, Missouri

Let’s be honest, I’m on vacation–or at least, a couple days off, and I’m getting lazy. So, let’s stay in Missouri another day, and talk about Kansas City.

Look, I have a picture. One without my thumb in it:

img_20170413_111614.jpg

I climbed up the side of a mountain to get that for you. Well, a very large hill. Okay, well, maybe it was a war monument. There was a lot of up involved.

As you can see, Kansas City is an actual city-type city with buildings which are tall enough to blot out the sun and make everything a little claustrophobic. It is not, however, city-like enough that you have to worry about wandering into a dangerous neighborhood.

(Not that I actually have the sense to worry about wandering into dangerous neighborhoods.)

So, Kansas City… I’m dodging tall buildings and memories of an old flame (who gets a glowing recommendation, btw.)

There’s a jazz museum here, and also a Negro League Baseball museum. Once upon a time, a friend asked me about things to do in KC, and I started with jazz, and worked my way (quite a few “options” down the road) to baseball. So, my list is more or less in exactly the reverse order to hers, and there you have it–the number one thing from each list.

I could see myself living here. I mean, there’s a giant bookshelf downtown (and a library to go with it.) And there are things to do. (Do my thing, first, though. Jenny doesn’t need any encouragement.)

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

A-to-Z Challenge: St. Joseph, Missouri

In another two cups of coffee,  St. Joe will be a beautiful old railroad town. Right now, however, it is a foolhardy city that allows two 5:00s to exist within the same day. I’m recovering from a night in a cheap motel, and the recent loss of my (nearly-finished) draft of my A-to-Z post for the day.

Let’s just say that if WordPress gives you a button that says “Save Draft” you should probably push that button. I’ve gotten spoiled by the automatic saving on the real post-edit page.

I am in a concept McDonalds–the McDonalds of the future, boys and girls… it told me so—using the wifi and drinking a cup of coffee. I had to send my first cup back, because apparently, in the McDonalds of the future, cream clots, and you don’t pay enough attention to fix it before someone’s drinking it. Very seriously, the only things I need out of a restaurant are wifi and coffee.

So, St. Joe… which was one of my most favorite-est places in the world when I was a kid–was where Jesse James lived (there’s a museum.) and where the Pony Express began. (Start of the route, not start of the concept.)(there’s a museum.) It’s also home to the Gloor Psychiatric museum, which highlights historical treatments for psychiatric disorders. (Many of which are now used in S&M clubs around the world.) I’ll point out that even I know Gloor is probably not appropriate for young children.

There actually are a lot of good restaurants. (Not at 5am, though.) For people who want to look for them.

Right now–as an adult who has already seen the place Jesse James was shot, and the Pony Express barns–I’d have to say the highlight of the town is the big, beautiful old buildings. Some really nice architecture.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

A-to-Z Challenge: Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles

An Intercontinental Ballistic Missile is pretty much exactly what it claims to be. It’s a missile that is capable of bombing the shit out of one continent after having been launched from another continent. The Internet says a minimum range of 3,400 miles, and since most of them use arc-line navigation, that’s pretty impressive. It also mentions that they are typically intended to deliver a thermonuclear warhead. (I say typically, because the optimists among us might want to hold out for chocolate. It’s happened before.)

The good news is, we have lots of them.

The bad news is that taking an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile to an interplanetary war is like taking a knife to a gunfight. Worse. More like taking a spork to a gunfight.

Thermonuclear warhead or not, experts say an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile has less than a 0.ooooooooooooooo72% chance of ever leaving our solar system. And that’s with a good prevailing wind.

The aliens will be back in bed watching I Love Lucy before we ever get a missile past Mars.

It’s just a fact.

What it boils down to is this: We have two options in the upcoming war with the spiral galaxy.

We can go out in our yards, and think about chocolate while we wait to be vaporized, or we can lure them into range by pretending to be an interplanetary sex tourism hot spot.

The Planet Earth needs every patriotic human male to confront this threat head on. Flap those gills a little harder for Mother Earth. Don’t be ashamed to show off those pneumatic bladders. Be generous with that pancreatic cologne. Don’t look at her scolex, and just think of Earth.

Humanity depends on you.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

A-to-Z Challenge: Harmonices Mundi

I’d like to point out, for the record, that the WordPress spellchecker hates both Harmonices and Mundi. Someone should get on fixing that.

Harmonices Mundi is a book written by Johannes Kepler back in the day, when the dear, educated Elite were all Roman centurions. It took him twenty-one years (or thereabouts) to write the book, following which he immediately took it out and bought it a beer to celebrate.

I should try harder to take this one seriously.

Nope. Not working.

He assigned roles in a choir to planets, based on the shape of their orbits and their velocity. The Earth–for those of us who are musically inclined–is a miserable alto, who can only sing two notes. (He attributes this to the social conditions on Earth.) (And I’m going to blame today’s pop music on the fact. After all, if the Earth can only sing two notes, why should we expect more out of our rockstars?)(Correction, Kepler said that too. Possibly with less cynicism.)

So, clearly I’m spelunking in Wikipedia to find this particular H-M.

My thought is that this sounds a lot like synesthesia, and I’m vaguely reminded of the first synesthete I ever knew–or the first who talked about it–who would sit in church, and listen to the stained glass windows.

Singing planets or not, the math in the book turned out to be very, very close to what actually exists. He did leave out the line of dancing girls that is the asteroid belt, but you know.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.