[sticky entry] Sticky: Welcome!

Nov. 3rd, 2012 03:56 pm
amandagrabler: Amanda Grabler, official photo (Default)
Welcome to my blog!

Although I have my official author site, I've been wanting a separate blog to post about things which interest me, confound me, and so forth. Although some authors post everything to one place, I wanted to keep my official site for my books, publication information, cover design, and so forth. At least for now.

I really like WordPress as far as my official site goes -- it's easy (generally!) to implement, and has loads of free features, but it also requires readers to sign up for every blog they want to comment on (perhaps unless OpenID is turned on -- still trying to figure that out since it mentions merging accounts...), but with a site like DW, there is more accessibility.

I may ask you to have a registered account (or OpenID) to leave comments to reduce spamming, but that leaves you able to comment on any DW journal/community, not just mine. I like that.

I hope you will enjoy reading what I have to say, and that you in turn will leave interesting, but never mean-spirited (even if we disagree), comments/feedback for me to ponder for my next entry.

Please do not reprint or repost of my entries without written permission (per post) from me. Thank you!

Amanda Grabler
amandagrabler: Amanda Grabler, official photo (Default)
Anyone who works retail has probably had to suffer through weeks of unending Christmas music. If you're lucky, you may at least get to enjoy lots of different songs. If not, you're probably listening to the same tracks over and over. Where I work, it's a combination -- multiple artists, same songs. One day last year, I heard 7 different renditions of Frosty the Snowman in an hour. 

There are some holiday songs I enjoy, but I want to listen to them when I choose to, not be forced to listen to them for hours. And I've seen plenty of posts from shoppers (not just local either) who don't like it either. (And not for any religious or political reasons.)

Although there are a number of Christmas songs I simply do not like, there are 3 in particular which really irk me. 

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Baby It's Cold Outside, and My Favorite Things

A cheerful tune almost every kid knows, a song for the more mature crowd, and the cheery song meant to make you feel better from The Sound of Music. What could possibly be wrong with any of them?

I'll start with My Favorite Things. Simply put, it's NOT a Christmas song just because sleigh bells and snowflakes on lashes happen to be some of the favorite things. I'm pretty sure that if four leaf clovers or gold had been in that list we wouldn't start hearing it played on St. Patrick's Day. I really think someone was reaching and in need of one last cover song for their debut CD one day. Of these 3 songs, this is mostly just an annoyance. But I'm really sick of hearing it in December.

Baby It's Cold Outside. I used to like this song, but then I hadn't really given the lyrics much thought. Then a friend pointed out a very good reason to dislike it. Think about it. The woman wants to leave. She had a nice time but she is ready to go before the weather gets worse, and she doesn't want her family thinking bad things about her. Instead of being a gentleman, the guy tells her there's no cabs, so you'll have to stay a little bit longer, and by the way, here's more alcohol... to which the woman later asks what was in the drink, and that maybe she'll stay a little longer. That's not cool.

And lastly, Rudolph. Rudolph is an innocent little fawn who happened to be born differently than the other fawns. The bright red nose. Which of course the other deer make fun of, and no one says a word. Until Santa needs him to be a lantern. What does this song really teach kids? That it's okay to hate someone who is different than you are, until you find a use for them.  People will say, "Hey, but it's a traditional song!" And? Some traditions are bad and need to be discontinued. This song should be one of them. 

What Christmas/holiday songs do you dislike and why?

I've been asked if I could be quoted on the Rudolph comment, and my answer is yes (for that or the others). Just please:

1. Don't take my words out of context.
2. Give me credit -- Link back to this post.


amandagrabler: Amanda Grabler, official photo (Default)
Is anyone else aggravated by the semi-recent upsurge in paper towels being replaced by air dryers (regular or the super powerful ones which try to blow your skin off) in public bathrooms? 

I understand that they do this to keep the restrooms cleaner, and to help the environment by reducing paper content, both of which I support. Unfortunately, it creates a host of other problems. Here are a couple which come to mind:

1. Restrooms aren't cleaner, in my experience.

It's hard to get your hands satisfyingly dry with lukewarm-to-hot air, so we're reduced to grabbing toilet paper from the stalls. The TP is generally cheap, and then falls apart in little clumps all over the place, and then sticks to your hands (and shoes if you step in it). From cleaning up cat-shredded TP at home, I know this is much more time consuming (especially when wet!) than picking up whole paper towels which missed the trash can.

Then there's the door. If it pushes outward, no problem! But many require you to pull the door inward to get out. And you know that plenty of people don't bother to wash their hands. So now you need more TP to grab the door handle with, so that you don't actually need to touch it with your clean hands. 

2. Winter = dry skin for a lot of people.

Some people have dry skin year-round for various reasons. Having air blown on my to my skin makes my problem infinitely worse and infinitely more painful. But it's that, hope it's a jean-day so you can get away with drying your hands on your pants!, or walk out with dripping wet hands.

amandagrabler: Amanda Grabler, official photo (Default)
 What makes a good blog? What makes a bad blog?

For me, a good blog provides useful, factual information, is updated at least semi-regularly, offers a way to contact the owner(s) and/or author(s) of the posts, and offers a comment/feedback system on posts (or at least on most of the posts).

A bad blog, therefore, would be the opposite. A bad blog would also be one that is full of malware, or that unexpectedly redirects you to a dangerous site, or which is obviously a scam of some sort. You know the type -- lots of almost helpful information, lots of yellow highlighting, and information on where you can send the blogger money.

But what makes a blog worthy of interaction with its readers and followers? I've been trying to determine this for awhile now, because my primary blog, Gluten Free & Tasty! has followers, and has registered members, but only a handful of comments . . . and I've been writing it for several years. Companies like my blog. They're still sending me free products to sample and review. Restaurants have been pleased when I tell them I've reviewed them on my blog. But I am clearly doing something wrong because I get almost no response anywhere from the GF community.

My blog auto-posts to Twitter, where I have followers (quite a number) as well as to a group and to a page I've made on Facebook, both of which have a number of members, but again . . . almost no feedback. I have even tried sharing posts which were nothing but a question (i.e. 'what are you doing for National Celiac Awareness Day?) or being sure to include various questions throughout posts, as I've read that asking for feedback specifically tends to elicit a response.

I am aware that WordPress, while providing ease of use to the blogger, does create some difficulty because readers end up having to register for each blog they want to comment on, so I tried to find a plugin which would allow readers to comment from multiple services (such as Twitter), and only succeeded in crashing my blog (oops!). Does anyone have any suggestions on WordPress plugins which (a) work with the most current version of WordPress, (b) work with custom themes and (c) are easy to set-up?

I follow a number of gluten free blogs, and the ones I follow have no problems getting people to respond, so what am I doing wrong? If anyone has any constructive criticism for me regarding Gluten Free & Tasty!, I would sincerely like to hear it -- whether or not you are a gluten-free person or not (I want my blog to appeal to everyone, as there are many people out there who can eat gluten, but go GF for family, or can eat gluten, but want to be able to prepare treats for others who can't).


Nov. 3rd, 2012 07:35 pm
amandagrabler: Amanda Grabler, official photo (Default)
Halloween is one of the holidays with a set date. October 31. The day of the week it falls on changes, but the actual holiday? No, it's set. October 31. I don't understand why some counties believe it is a good idea to move the holiday because . . . it's more convenient (for whom?), because the 31st is a Sunday that year, or for some other reason (extreme weather notwithstanding, such as with those who were in the path of Hurricane Sandy, or other natural disasters, and trick-or-treating and going to parties simply isn't safe).

Still, moving it so kids can still have fun only works if plenty of people know about it -- otherwise it's further unsafe to take a bunch of kids, in costume, door-to-door when people are not expecting it (and also, are unlikely to have candy on hand, leaving kids disappointed). Have a post-Halloween costume party in a community center instead, and make sure you have fun stuff for kids of all ages.

We decorated and got candy ready for kids this year, and no one showed up. Did we simply miss the night because someone moved Halloween? I have no idea. I remember trick-or-treating as a kid, pretty much no matter what.

I understand moving a holiday among your family and/or friends, if you're not going to be able to celebrate together otherwise, or if planes get delayed or cancelled, but that is a personal decision. It's not telling the entire county you live in, "Hey! Christmas is going to be December 18th and New Year's is going to be January 8, because {insert arbitrary reason of your choice here}.

Where and when did this relocation of Halloween get started?

Another thing that bothers me about Halloween is how lazy some kids (and parents) have apparently gotten in regards to the actual act of trick-or-treating.

One friend called to tell me that hardly any trick-or-treaters showed up at their door (despite the fact that there were quite a large number of kids visible in the neighborhood) because they didn't want to walk up their steps! Several other friends posted online regarding parents driving their kids door-to-door in cars and minivans. Now, I understand if you live in a remote area, and you need to drive your kids to a big neighborhood so they can enjoy the evening, but 20' (or less) from house to house? You're wasting gas and they're losing an opportunity to walk around! I grew up in a neighborhood with VERY steep hills . . . but that didn't stop us from walking all the way to the top and back down again!

If you're worried about letting your kids (especially the younger ones who really shouldn't be out without supervision in any case) out of your sight, walk with them! If you can't, find out if a neighbor or babysitter can take them out instead. The only exceptions I see to this are if it's too cold or rainy to be walking around, but your kids still want to go, or if you have a child who, for any reason, is not mobile on their own and must go by car in order to trick-or-treat with their friends and/or siblings.



amandagrabler: Amanda Grabler, official photo (Default)


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