The Best Of.

Watching blog statistics is an infurating hobby.   I’ve been writing here now for just over five years, and no matter what I do, the same two posts are always at the top of my stats.

1)  ICE, ICE, Baby! (A Beginner’s Guide To The Deutsche Bahn) – Written in early 2013, almost halfway through my time in Germany, this is a fairly detailed how-to styled post about how to use the rail system in Germany.  I took a lot of time to write this one, and gathered a ton of photographs from my own travels.   I left the comments open for the first couple of years, and I would routinely get comments from people about to go on their first German rail adventure, seeking advice.    I still get the occasional question through normal e-mail about this one, and it is always, always, always at the top of my stats for the most visits on any given day.

2)  Germany’s Most Dangerous Export: Kinder Surprise Eggs – This post from late 2013 is the second busiest post on my entire blog.  These little chocolate eggs are illegal to import into the United States, with a very steep fine per-egg if you get caught bringing one through customs.  I see them for sale from time to time in places like Sawgrass Mills, and I haven’t the foggiest idea how they got them through customs.  Rumors persist that the ban has been lifted, but I haven’t seen anything official to confirm that and I guess regular google searches about Kinder Eggs bring up my post.

The third place for top post is usually the most recent thing I’ve posted.   There are a few older posts that I really enjoyed putting together, though.  Sometimes I wish some of these would be in the top stats instead.

1)  Grokking Expatriates in Sci-Fi – This is another post from early 2013, and it’s one of the few posts where I got really geeky.  I went through an insanely long list of television, movie, comic, and literary characters out of the sci-fi genre who could be considered expatriates, and I grouped them into categories I made up.  This post was so much fun that it’s the first and only time that I’ve ever been Freshly Pressed.  (Thanks again for the nomination, Rara!)

2) Last Looks – I wrote this in late 2014, as I was preparing to move back to the United States.  It’s a long list of things that I thought I would miss about Germany, and things that I wouldn’t miss.  I also mentioned a lot of stuff that I was looking forward to about being back in the US, and I was right about everything except the cell phone signal.  That still sucks.

3) – Hunting Krampus in Berchtesgaden – Besides being a fascinating look into holiday traditions that are a little bit less tame than modern Santa, this post is a very fun look at the time in late 2013 that I went on a Krampus hunt with a friend from work.

4) Any of my travel posts.   I’ve written up many fantastic trips, with lots of great photos.  For some of my favorite examples, check out Cairo, Budapest, or Reykjavik.  I’m immensely proud of some of the posts I’ve written up about my travels.

What gets the most traffic from your blog?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

Tacos! (Or maybe not so much.)

I’ve been trying all weekend to come up with a new tagline for this blog, since I’m no longer on the Donau, and virtually every tag I’ve come up with so far has involved tacos in some way.

Tomorrow night’s dinner is Taco Tuesday- perhaps I should try this again after I’ve actually satisfied the taco-lust.ninjas-dragons-tacos

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how to proceed with this blog, and I know that I need to change my direction a little bit.  I don’t travel now the way I did in Germany, for any number of reasons,  and the posts about repatriation and reintegration are interesting, but that material will only carry me so far.

I think I have a sense of what I want to do, though.  In the paleolithic era of the Internet, back when puppies were the oldest animals, there was a giant blogging community on a site called LiveJournal.   Livejournal still exists, and I actually have a permanent account there.  In the heyday, around 2003 or so, I was a very verbose LJ user, sometimes even posting two or three times a day if I had an idea.  Over the years, the community dwindled, and other things took the focus.  Many people moved to the dreaded BookFace, and some started writing their own off-site blogs.  I found it harder and harder to keep writing there because I simply got too busy.  In modern times, I go back there every May to write my thoughts about the Television Upfronts.  I watch a lot of television and I have many thoughts about it.  I briefly considered bringing those posts over to this blog, but I never felt like they fit here.

Since I started writing in this blog, though, I’ve gotten into a good habit where writing is concerned.   My tone has always been casual, but structured here.  I have only rarely talked about things on a personal note, and I don’t think that most of the people reading ever got a sense of my real personality through my posts, other than the ingrained wanderlust.

I think that I’m going to try to incorporate the type of blogging I did back on LiveJournal.  I spoke more about my life and the people in it, and I spent more time talking about the things that were actually on my mind.   I’ll still do trip reports from time to time, and I’ll still post pictures occasionally, but the content will be a lot more varied.    I don’t intend to implement a set posting schedule, but I will never go more than a week without a post. There will be times when the whim will strike me, like tonight, and I’ll write something up on the fly to be posted immediately. (I jokingly called this ‘blogging while the neuron is hot’ a few minutes ago, and I realized that this would be a great tagline for a blog about neuroscience.)

I’ve already taken the first step toward resetting the blog by changing the URL from http://stevenglassman.de to http://stevenglassman.com.   For those of you who have linked to me in your own blogs, don’t worry:  the redirection is actually handled by WordPress.com’s back-end, which means that any links to my old posts on the .de domain will still load properly; they’ll just load with the .com version of the URL. I still need to find my new tagline, though.  And I probably won’t keep closing my posts with a question-  they’re good conversation starters, but sometimes I have no idea what to ask, and I think it shows pretty clearly when I’m grasping at straws.

In the spirit of blogging more about the things that actually make me tick, I’ll leave you tonight with three things that are on my mind.

Thing the first:  Senator Ted Cruz is a willfully ignorant butthead.  I don’t usually get too terribly political, but sometimes I’m enraged enough to comment.  Senator Ted posted this to Twitter:

The Internet immediately went aflame, including The Oatmeal’s awesome response, and Gizmodo’s thoughtful analysis.   The reason this enrages me in particular is partly that it’s a false equivalency:  Net neutrality doesn’t equate to a government takeover of anything, it just prevents the telecoms from being evil dickheads.  The other reason this enrages me is that Cruz has taken tons of money from the telecoms, so you can intuit that he is either being entirely uninformed about the issue (unlikely) or he’s shilling for the telecoms, saying what his corporate sponsors tell him to say.  Dude might as well be wearing Comcast and XFinity patches on his jacket.

Go back and read those two things I linked if you want to know more; they explain it much better than I do.   Seriously, though, grr.  Just grr.

Thing the second: This post about Charles Dance being cast as Karellen in the SyFy miniseries of Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End” excites me in a way cannot be described without using words like squeeee and ohmygodohmygodohmygod.  This is not because of the actor-  I don’t watch Game of Thrones, so I don’t really know the man’s work.  Rather, this is because Childhood’s End is a fantastic classic sci-fi story about a peaceful alien invasion that takes place over the span of more than one hundred years.  If you like good, thought-provoking science fiction, you should read this.   I expect the SyFy network to completely screw this up, but I’m still a little hopeful that this will be one of the rare adaptations that they actually get right.

Thing the third:  My reintegration back into life here in the US has been dotted with both successes and victories.

  • My brain has been failing me at odd intervals, causing me to lose the English words for things, and occasionally replacing them with strange and unrelated words.
  • I’ve noticed that I still grocery-shop like I’m in Germany, only without the canvas bags.  By this, I mean that I tend to only get as much as I can carry myself in one trip.   The stores themselves are somewhat overwhelming, and I find myself distinctly uncomfortable in them.
  • I reaffirmed my American-ness this weekend by restarting my Costco membership, but then promptly had what I can only describe as a mild panic attack from the chaos of the Saturday afternoon Costco shopping experience.  I still bought a box of Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix.  Don’t judge me!
  • I continue to be a patently ridiculous and silly person.  Last night, we had a birthday dinner for my dad and step-mother.  Her birthday was Friday, his was today.  Having the family gather to celebrate in the weekend in between them was a no-brainer.  While I was getting ready, I momentarily forgot how button-down shirts work, and I closed the cuff on the tighter of the two buttons.   Astutely noticing that my left cuff was significantly tighter than my right cuff, I asked aloud, “What the hell, did my wrist get fat?”  Amelie gently reminded me how shirts work without too much laughing.

I got an award thingie!

versatilebloggerawardA little while back, I got a note from The Diary of Sugar And Spice that she was nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  I’m not clear as to whether she’s Sugar or Spice.

The rules for dealing with this award, as noted here, involve the following:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award. (Thanks, Sugar and Spice!)
  • Include a link to their blog. (http://thediaryofsugarandspice.wordpress.com/)
  • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

For those who I am about to pass the award on to,  please don’t feel obligated to do anything with it.  The award isn’t created by any official group, like a WordPress Advisory Board or anything.  It’s just one set of bloggers showing appreciation for the contributions of other bloggers.

However-  I don’t like chain letters or posts that say “pass this on or else.”   While I am following the rules of the award by listing fifteen bloggers below, my linking to you here doesn’t mean you’re required to do anything about it.

Moving on, then.  I’m passing this on to:

And lastly, the requisite 7 Things About Myself:

  1. I have never seen The Godfather.  Not part 1, part 2, or part 3.  I’ve never read the novel either.  For as much as I love movies, everyone just assumes that I’ve seen this at some point, I never have.
  2. I am immune to being earwormed by other people, but I earworm myself all the time.  
  3. I spent a chunk of the early 1990s in a Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast.  I was usually Brad, but I played Frank a few times.
  4. I only got my passport in 2006 because I wanted to see London.  My goals at the time did not include any other destinations.
  5. I carry ear plugs with me every day, and especially to all the concerts I go to because my hearing is already starting to show signs of wear and tear.  When I’m in a crowded restaurant or bar, I often can’t tell what people are saying to me because I have a difficult time parsing their words out of the background noise.
  6. Sometimes when I get going on a project or a blog post or something along those lines, I go into a sort of hyperfocus and lose all sense of time.  It’s not uncommon for me to lose hours writing a series of blog posts.  This is great for productivity, but bad for my health- when I am in this state, I forget to eat and I don’t notice the migraine forming until it’s far, far too late.
  7. I’m a chronic overpacker pretending to be someone who travels very light.  I can usually get myself down to a single bag, but that bag is stuffed to the gills.  On any given trip, I might have too many extra shirts, a flashlight, enough electronic gadgets to initiate a hostile takeover of RJR Nabisco from the road, and quite possibly a boat anchor. (Hey, you never know when you’ll need to stop in a hurry!)

Do you pack light or are you also prone to overpacking?

It’s A Sunshine Day

Back in November, the inimitable Rarasaur nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award.  I don’t usually do Blog awards, because that’s just not what this blog is about.  However, Rara is one of my very favorite bloggers, so I wanted to pay this forward a little bit.  Better late than never, right?

sunshine-awardHere’s the Sunshine Blogger Award Rules:

  •     Display the award logo on your blog.
  •     Link back to the person who nominated you.
  •     State 5 things about yourself.
  •     Pass the award onto 8 other bloggers and link to one of their specific posts so that they get notified by pingback.

Five Things About Me:

  1. I love old TV shows that almost nobody remembers, like Streethawk, Flying Blind, Lush Life, Automan, and Mr. Merlin.
  2. I do a really good George Takei impression. And a pretty decent Mickey Mouse as well.  And while we’re on the subject of stupid human tricks, I can make the sound of one hand clapping.
  3. I am chorally trained. I sang in high school and for the first three and a half years of college. I sing in the Bass-Baritone range and used to be part of a barbershop quartet. I also have a secret stash of recordings of me doing Karaoke in the early 1990s. Tell no one.
  4. I have some form of headache almost every day.  Some are mild sinus things, and some are walloping migraines.  I’m used to it.
  5. I have seen the Village People perform live in concert on several separate occasions. I would kill to acquire a recording of their live version of Iko-Iko.

For those who I am about to pass the award on to,  please don’t feel obligated to do anything with it.  The award isn’t created by any official group, like a WordPress Advisory Board or anything.  It’s just one set of bloggers showing appreciation for the contributions of other bloggers.

However-  I don’t like chain letters or posts that say “pass this on or else.”   While I am following the rules of the award by listing eight bloggers below, my linking to you here doesn’t mean you’re required to do anything about it.

Moving on, then.

I hereby pass this award onto these 8 bloggers, in no particular order:

  1. Das Regensblog: For seemingly being more amused than I am about living in Regensburg. Plus lots of tasty food posts.
    http://www.regensblog.com/2013/01/13/more-anthropomorphic-body-fluids/
  2. Sarah Stäbler: For being an incredibly happy and optimistic person.
    http://sarahstaebler.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/faces-on-cars/
  3. TQE | That Queer Expatriate:  For just having a generally well-rounded, fun to read blog.
    http://www.elmada.com/?p=8922
  4. Ifs, Ands, & Butts: For being well-travelled, informative, and fun.
    http://www.ifsandsandbutts.com/2013/01/wisdom-teeth.html
  5. Pink Parliament: For incredible enthusiasm in the face of a new and different life in an unfamiliar country.
    http://pinkparliament.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/well-i-got-the-iphone-5/
  6. The Impossible Quest: For having impeccable taste in Sci-Fi, tv, movies, and the like.
    http://theimpossiblequest.blogspot.com/2012/11/caprica-too-soon-end-or-isnt-magda.html
  7. Geek Mädel: For being insanely interesting.  And interestingly insane.
    http://geekmadel.com/2012/05/07/why-you-should-live-alone-at-least-once-in-your-life/
  8. Pop Culture Boner: For being consistently hilarious and occasionally thought-provoking while talking about my favorite subject in the world.
    http://popcultureboner.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/the-best-and-worst-of-2012/

Please pardon the downtime.

A quick explanation for why the blog has been down a lot over the last few days.

On Monday, I discovered that my WordPress installation had been hacked again.  I spent a few hours cleaning things up, and then I got really frustrated with the Sisyphean nature of the whole process.  Because of that, I decided to move my site from a self-hosted WordPress installation to WordPress.com servers, so that constant vigilance against hacks and software updates would be Somebody Else’s Problem(tm) for a change.

The annual fees for WordPress.com hosting were, I thought, well worth the one night a month I would gain in not having to clean out my blog’s infection and reset everything.

The last two days during which the blog was completely down were due to a failure in my nameserver change from Dreamhost to WordPress.  This failure is ongoing and Dreamhost support is working on it-  I’m actually using an http cloak to load the WordPress site directly without properly mapping the domain name.  It’s a kludge, but it will at least bring me back up for the time needed to resolve the real problem.

As a nifty bonus though, WordPress.com hosting does a few things natively that it took me several plugins to get working on the self-hosted variety.  Things like the direct connections to Facebook and Twitter to notify of new blog posts.  The only functionality I lose is the LiveJournal crossposting, and I have a different solution for that once this is all sorted out.

The downtime is not the fault of Dreamhost, although their initial communication infuriated me because they misread my question three times.  The downtime is also not the fault of WordPress, although their documentation could be a little bit more clear.  The real fault for the downtime is a combination of my poor understanding of DENIC’s strict rules and an as yet to be determined problem with Dreamhost’s third-party registry vendor, Logic Boxes.  That support request is ongoing.

Technical Note (If you’re bored by the technical stuff, skip this paragraph): DENIC, the registry for .de domain names, has very, very strict rules about things.  It requires that you have a valid zone file on the name servers you want to change to, and this was not clear to me at first.  I realized yesterday, after I discovered an “unexpected RCODE failure” on their nameserver check at http://www.denic.de/en/background/nast.html that I needed the zone on WordPress servers to make this happen.  WordPress is used to this, and they get support requests to create zones manually all the time, so this was a piece of cake to fix once I knew that it was needed.  However, the nameserver change is still not going through because the Dreamhost panel thinks this domain name isn’t registered.

In any case, there may yet be some additional hiccups to the DNS here, but once this is all sorted out I’ll get back to posting about life outside of the command line.