Blogging stuff: Religion

Along with the other trends in following I mentioned recently, I feel that I have to mention something else that is beginning to reappear at a rather alarming rate. I have noticed that some followers and commenters lately have been of the ‘Bible-bashing’ variety.

Personally, I do not think that blogging is the place to expound your religious ideas, or attempt to convert those who do not share them. I don’t mean those general bloggers who also mention going to church, attending Easter services, or enjoying a family christening. You know the sort I mean.

Their blogs are full of fire and brimstone, thanking the Lord for everything that happened, including that morning’s sunrise. They often blame natural disasters and terrorist incidents on God’s displeasure, and warn that only bad things will happen unless we all start to believe in the same things as them. These blogs are often disguised. They have innocuous names that do not mention religion, or gods. Click on the blog to leave a ‘thank you’ for following, and you will see that it is comprised almost entirely of fiery scripture quotes, and entreaties for you to do things like ‘follow the right path.’

They mean the same path as them, of course.

I have no issues with religious people. Many find real comfort from their religion, and it helps them lead a happier life. Some take inspiration from religion to do good things, and others are peaceful and contemplative because of their beliefs. I would not use this blog to attack them, and I certainly would not use it to try to stop them believing in their gods. On the other hand, as an atheist I do not appreciate being lectured to about something I have no interest in.

I know, I don’t have to read them. And I don’t. But I do not like the way that they ‘sneak in’ by commenting on posts, and by having blog names that disguise their true purpose. So, at the risk of upsetting some genuine people, and perhaps losing many potential new ‘followers’, I have this to say to them.

1) If you are a fundamentalist religious person, please ignore my blog.
2) Do not like or comment on my posts as a way of getting me to look at your own blog.
3) Please do not follow my blog in the hope of being followed back. It will never happen.
4) Use a title for your blog that gives you away for what you are, instead of concealing the fact.
5) Enjoy your religion. Say your prayers and thanks. Go to your meetings, or whatever it is you do.

Believe in what you want to believe, and live a long and happy life. But just leave the rest of us alone to follow a different path. The one we have chosen.

Staying positive: More thoughts

As regular readers will be all-too aware, I have decided that 2017 will be my year for beginning to have a positive outlook on life. Attending the funeral of a friend and ex-colleague, yesterday, I refused to dwell on the fact that he was four years younger than me; that he would not be drawing the pension that he worked so hard for all of his life, and that he will not be joining us for meals in attractive country pubs anymore. Instead, I concentrated on the fact that he served for 36 years as a police officer in London, doing what he had always wanted to do. He loved his family, made many lifelong friends, and left this world behind with a legacy of a working life spent helping people, living on in fond memories.

The sun came out today, and despite a chilly breeze, I had an enjoyable walk with Ollie. I thought about buying that second camera again, and decided not to. There’s nothing wrong with the one I have got, and it is good enough for what I use it for. So, why spend the money? I will put that to better use, helping to fund a holiday abroad next year, for the first time in seven years.

I noted that my passport has also expired. That would usually send me into a flap, in case I needed it for some unexpected reason. But being positive, I soon realised that I was unlikely to need it until the summer of 2018, so plenty of time.

Starting today, I am receiving my State Pension. That’s a monthly increase of over 50% in my disposable income. That’s pretty positive, if you ask me. Jobs put off can now get done; cars sorted out properly, decorators employed, and the chance of a few more trips away in other parts of the UK to anticipate too.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s no big deal, I suppose. But even being positive about the small things in life can make you feel so much better. Why don’t you join in? I know it is still only March, but it has been very good so far.

Staying positive, in 2017.

New followers: Some advice

As a blogger, it is always a pleasure to welcome new followers to my blog(s). They might become active members of the wider blogging community, as well as commenting on my posts. I might choose to follow their blog, to read what they have to say, or look at their photos. As bloggers, this is the way to become noticed, perhaps to create a circle, or to become part of one.

Just lately, I have been lucky to receive lots of notifications from WordPress, informing me that someone new is following my blog. As is my habit, I will usually head straight over to their blog, have a look at what they are doing, and leave a comment thanking them for their appreciated follow. In many cases, this is easily done, and more than a few times, it has also resulted in them getting a new follower too, namely me.

However, I have started to notice a confusing trend. Around 50% of the time when I get a new follower, their own blog doesn’t actually exist. These are not ’email only’ followers, I hasten to add. They have blog names, and WordPress accounts. But click on the profile, and you will often find nothing at all. No redirect to a blog, no recent posts to read, not even a Home page or About page to peruse. A few of these new followers do have an actual blog, but it is ’empty’. It has a name and a theme, but that’s all. The rest is just WordPress filler, such as ‘This is a widget’, or ‘This is an About page’.

It is a fair assumption that they have started the blog so recently, that they haven’t had time to get it organised, or add any posts. If this is the case, then why start following other blogs so soon? I have checked back on some of these new followers, and their blogs remain blank. Yet they keep coming in; two already today, to add to half a dozen this week. Not much point having followers who have no blogs, unless they prefer to follow by email only of course. But these are not those type of followers, as they have blog names for ’empty’ blogs.

I cannot see the point of doing this. They gain nothing by following my blog, if their own blog cannot even be read, let alone followed back. And they provide nothing to the community of blogging, just by randomly following blogs for no reason.

So ‘new followers’, here is my advice.

If you follow a blog, comment on a post, or leave a like. If nothing else, it proves that you exist.
If you don’t want to have your own blog, then follow by email. It’s much easier.
If you have started a blog, then left it like a literary ghost town, just delete it.

If you do not want to be part of the overall blogging experience, that’s fine. But please don’t bother to confuse bloggers like me by ‘following’, when to all intents and purposes, you don’t exist.

**(Update. Just after posting this, I got another one! Click on it, and nothing…)**

 

Best wishes to you all, anyway. Pete.

A word about photos

When I didn’t post any photos, most followers used to ask me to include them. My main reluctance to do so at the time was the consideration of using up my WordPress allowance for this blog. Then I decided to throw caution to the winds. I bought a new camera, resurrected my old SLR, and started to post lots of photos. Pretty soon, I had used almost 45% of my allowance, and I was getting worried.

Of course, my great community of blogging friends soon came to my aid. They gave me tips and advice about how to reduce the file size, whilst keeping the ability to have the reader enlarge the photos, to enjoy the details. Off I went, armed with a useful tutorial on Adobe Photoshop, courtesy of my friend, Antony. I reduced the file size by 50%, so that they would load faster for my friends with a slow Internet connection. This came with the bonus of using considerably less space, and made my allowance workable, for the time being at least.

For most of 2016, and a couple of times this year, I added photos where appropriate, and enjoyed a big boost in viewing figures every time they appeared. But looking at the stats, I started to realise something. Hardly anyone was enlarging these photos. The stats show me every time an image is clicked on, and they were few and far between. For instance, my post about Southwold, with four reasonably interesting photos, has been viewed 114 times. Yet only two ‘clicks’ are shown for the images. Out of all those interested people, only one or two have bothered to enlarge the photos. Some of those who did so mentioned that fact. I thank them for doing that, as the photos are a lot more impressive when enlarged, as I say in the post.

So, I am left with a question. Is it worth me bothering to post images of a decent size, or are most of you content with the smaller photos visible on the main post? If you don’t want to enlarge the images, then I won’t be bothering to spend so much time making them into a decent size for viewing.
Just let me know how you feel. No criticism intended, or pressure applied.

Best wishes, Pete.

Free books, and marketing

As I have said before, I like to consider myself to be a ‘committed’ blogger. When I can, I post tips and advice for new bloggers, and hopefully add to the wealth of information provided free of charge by so many others. In return, I have access to countless other similar posts, as well as receiving some useful advice and instructional details by email.

I have always thought that it is important to support other bloggers too. I have donated to charities, given to causes and fund-raisers, and I have also bought quite a few e-books written by people I follow. If anyone seeks advice, I will throw my hat into the ring to try to help them, even if I am not always able to provide the right answers. OK, enough about me, what am I on about then?

I recently took up the offer of a free e-book. This was featured on another blog, by way of a re-blog, and was a general promotion of a new novel from a prolific writer. When it arrived, it wasn’t really my sort of thing. I started to read it, then decided that I was unlikely to finish it, or to be able to give a positive review. There was nothing wrong with the content or style, it was just not a genre that appeals to me. Fair enough then. Some you win, some you lose. No harm done. I did it to help, so I believed.

However, since agreeing to take that free book from one author, I have been inundated with emails (well, three or four a day at least) from all sorts of writers I have never heard of. They offer me more free books in the same genre, and discounted books in other weird and wonderful genres. When I don’t take the offers advertised, they email me to ask why I haven’t done so. I feel that I have stepped into some sort of book-marketing machine that refuses to release me from its grip.

Now before you all reply, telling me that I have the option to unsubscribe, I already know.

I suppose what I am saying to authors, is that by bombarding helpful bloggers with endless emails and promotional blurbs, you are merely serving to alienate a potential audience, at least in my case. If I have not reviewed a book, it might just be because I didn’t like it. I could take the other route, and give it a bad review based on personal preferences, but I am not that sort of person. So I will be unsubscribing, and thinking twice before taking any such free offers in the future.

I still wish you luck with your writing, and success too of course.

A Southwold Birthday

I always like to visit the seaside on my birthday. This week we were blessed with excellent weather for the 16th, so we decided to venture south-east, and to see somewhere in Suffolk, instead of Norfolk. Southwold is a genteel town on the East Coast. Recent popularity with visitors from London, and others buying second homes there, has also made it a desirable destination, as well as prohibitively expensive to buy property in the town.
(The photos all look better if they are enlarged)


The pier was built in 1900, and is as popular today as it ever was. Unlike some coastal piers in this country, it conceals its commercial side very well.


Along the pier is the famous water-powered clock. The metalwork is suffering a little from exposure to the elements, but it still tells the correct time!


Further into the town, you will discover the imposing St Edmund’s Church. It was built in 1430, and is considered to be one of the best examples in the county.


Unusually, Southwold’s lighthouse is in the town centre, rather that at the edge of the coast. It still operates today, and has been seen in many films and TV series too.

The town is dominated by Adnams Brewery, which still operates in its original premises there, brewing Suffolk’s famous beer. There is a popular Brewery Tour, run every day. As well as a small market, held in the old Market Place, the town has a wealth of small shops, delicatessens, and restaurants. Most are of the ‘exclusive’ kind, catering to the many wealthy new residents. A visit there is highly recommended, as it will give you a snapshot of the British Seaside, almost unchanged for over 100 years.

A personal celebration

It is not the done thing to congratulate yourself on your own birthday, I know.

But I am going to do it anyway.

As regular readers will recall, the 16th of March is my birthday, and I generally make quite a song-and-dance about it. I start to celebrate a few days before, commencing a ‘birthday week’ of events. These involve shopping for my gifts, a trip to the seaside, and a meal in a restaurant. Nothing fancy, you understand, just keeping up a tradition I started many years ago.

This year is something of a milestone, as I am ‘officially old’. 65 is the age in the UK when you are considered to be a ‘pensioner’. For many, this no longer applies, as recent changes in the law will delay pensions for most people, for up to seven years. But I just crept in under the barrier, so I will be getting my State Pension at the time I was supposed to, starting next week. I will also qualify for things like ‘Pensioner Day Discounts’ at the barber shop. This has its own cruel irony, as I have little hair left to cut. I will get a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’ though, as us oldies need to keep warm.

The downside is that I will also be cast into that great void of the ‘Over 65s’. Look at any survey, most forms, and many special offers, and you will see that the final tick box is usually shown as ’65 Or Over’. Once you hit that magic age, you are destined to be ignored, or at best seen as something of a burden on society. But I am being positive in 2017, so I will not worry about all that stuff.

We will go to the beach with Ollie after I open all my cards and gifts. Then later this evening, we will enjoy a nice meal somewhere, possibly tasty Chinese food. I will drink my red wine, and enjoy the day with Julie and our dog. Then next month, I might just go and get one of those cheap haircuts.

Just because I can.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

Staying positive, in 2017.