10 Tips for Daily Blogging

Post # 316 since December 22, 2011. Haven’t missed a day yet.

1 No one cares what you did. I write a horse blog. Suppose I wrote, “I went to the barn. My horse was good.” Even my mother would get tired of reading. Interesting data can be killed with bad writing. “I climbed Everest. It was high. I was cold.” Snore.

As bloggers our job is to add value. Tell the story in an amusing way. Tie your events to a larger pattern. Add insightful commentary. I’m not claiming I achieve this, but such is the intention.

2 Aim for one screen of text. You want to encourage return customers. Chances are if you’ve gone beyond that you need to edit anyway. Spatial dispensation for the superfluous kitten picture.

3 Accept that you will not hit it out of the park every day. Sometimes just getting it done is enough.

4 Consider how the first paragraph will look when you post a link on Facebook.

5 Use everything. My friends find text from my emails reappearing on posts.

6 Be professional.

7 Don’t be too professional. You’re not getting paid. An ungoverned blog will suck up an infinity of time.

8 Don’t look back. Aside from obvious typos, resist the urge to fiddle with past posts. This is another bottomless pit. Move on.

9 Pictures rock. Pictures are a pain. One photo is at least as much work as 1,000 words: taking, loading, cropping, uploading, captioning, placing, and so on. Learn the copyright issues involved. Or for an easy fix, learn to take your own photos.

10 Assume the worst. Your boss will see it. Your kids will see it. The one person you dread will see it and interpret it in the worst possible light. On one hand, this leads to self-censorship. On the other hand, it forces you to stick with what is real, accurate, and provable, thereby avoiding speculation or blame. Voila, better writing.

Bonus Tip: Resist the temptation to post a picture of your cat. Feline photos will take over your life.

Previous posts on the subject of blogging.
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Gratuitous Kitten Pic

The Pendulum Swings

New booties have left Mathilda with heel rubs. We tried to buffer her heels with Vetrap but that appears to have made them worse. The other booties also rubbed but Vetrap solved the problem. Without booties she doesn’t walk enough to keep her hindend loose. With booties, she gets sores. It’s a bit like having to take drug X for one condition when it is counter-indicated for another condition.

We will continue to fiddle. Hubby worries about her & wants to keep them on. I worry about her feet & want to take them off. Between us, we probably arrive at a good balance. Furthermore, she gets trimmed today which may make the new ones fit better. Overall, I hope she moves back into barefoot season soon. At this point in the year, we have usually taken off her shoes for the winter.

Horse (dog, cat, spouse) balancing acts in your life?
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Gratuitous Kitten Pic

Boxing on TV

Fashion Forward


Mathilda now has a second pair of booties (above). Sporty, aren’t they? We are prepared if she loses one or gets her feet wet. Preliminary data suggests that these are doing even better than the first pair. When Rodney is up and the barrier is down, Mathilda is now out grazing rather than standing like Patience on a Monument next to R’s stall.

The first pair [More] made a huge improvement on her movement, i.e. she did. However, this pair is styled a little narrower, so they do not twist on her hooves. Shifting shoes have to make one feel a bit unstable. Perhaps only by a small margin, but that’s all she’s working with.

The booties came in a spiffy box within a box and with a free hoofpick. Fancy packaging and a freebie, sure signs that you have paid too much for a product. OTOH, a business can get in trouble for omitting such perks. A while back, I wanted to celebrate surviving a particularly bad year. I treated myself to a silver charm necklace that had to be custom adjusted. When I went to pick it up, the counter help thought I was picking up a $10 repair not the original purchase. No box, a pleasant but perfunctory thank you. Not going back there any time soon.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
Walt Whitman
My father, and therefore I, always used ‘vast’ instead of ‘large’. I defer to Google, despite the superiority of our version.

Of what fashion accessories does your horse (dog, cat, spouse?) boast?
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Gratuitous Kitten Pic
I left the Cavallo box on the floor to set up an adorable photo of a kitten sleeping in the box. Instead one of them used it to file a protest on the quality of the maid service. Not so adorable.

Showtime

No saddleseat lesson this week but I still learned something.

The truck did not start. Since it had been plugged in overnight, this indicates a deeper problem than a simple lack of charge. When I called Stepping Stone Farm to cancel, the trainer said she might not be available next Friday. Students were still deciding if they wanted to ride in the National Academy Finals.

What? Academy means folks who take lessons, right? This is a show I would be qualified to ride in next year? A National-level show wherein I might not get laughed out of the ring*? Immediately, every dormant competitive instinct sat up & said ‘We’re not dead yet.’

I got excited way out of proportion for a show that is over a year away. I recalled shows where I pulled off wins despite being handicapped by my horse or my own cluelessness [Lesson Ho!]. Patting myself for past victories is unusual for me. The screaming monkey voices in my head tend to focus on the negative.

Next year’s show is beyond scope of this blog as currently formulated [Vox]. So, the world may never know how it went. However, the several barns in the state run a winter schooling show series. The first one is December 8th, 2012. Therefore, you may get to hear about my saddleseat competitive career, if I have a truck and get to the barn in November. The Winter Tournament is billed as “a great way to get introduced to the show ring.” Okay, I hardly need that. The show ring & I have met. Often. In my defense, I have no idea if winning a cut-off duel in a hunter flat class translates to surviving a saddleseat go-round.

My completive nature is hardly news. Last year, I was in a LEGO competition. My class was small but select. My LEGO book (pictured) earned me a blue ribbon & a gift card (ditto) for more LEGO. Sadly, I was far more excited about one than the other.

The surprise news was that, apparently, my show career is not ready for retirement.

The 2012 Finals are next weekend. Is it too early to sign up for 2013?
Saddleseat posts

*Years ago, I rode in the World Championship Side-Saddle class at the Washington International Horse Show. It was a hoot & a half, but I was clearly in the Thank You For Playing category. What big-time shows have you ridden in?

Tip of the Day: AAEP’s Disaster Planning for Horse Farms by Dana N. Zimmel, DVM. This one had ideas I had not seen before, such as “Place large vehicles/ tractors/ trailers in an open field where trees cannot fall on them.” Hope you never need this.
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Gratuitous Kitten Update
Our most senior cat [tortoiseshell] is old enough that she is getting special meals. The kittens are old enough that they are not. It boggles their little kitty minds that there is a food event in the house to which they are not invited.

Guest Post: Deborah Rubin – Life is a Puzzle

Deborah & I boarded at the same barn years ago when the world was young. Since I am all for text that I don’t have to write, I asked her for a guest post. She talks about her life with horses and as a puzzle book writer. Welcome Deborah:

DR and Eowyn

Hi, my name is DebandToby and I’ll be your guest blogger for the day. Actually, my name is Deborah Eve Rubin, which revelation will make sense a little further on. I have to confess I haven’t owned a horse in over 10 years, and it’s a little longer than that since I’ve actually been able to get on a horse. I am not grounded by choice. *sigh*

The first horse I owned was from the bowels of hell itself. I sent him to auction after a year, where he reared up and went over backwards, and sometimes manage to truly forget I ever owned him.

KW and Priney

My next horse, Priney (short for Princess) was a welsh/TB cross. Your daily blogger wrote a wonderful piece on her in the May 2012 issue of Horse Illustrated. But the photo they used wasn’t my pony. I was rather annoyed at that, and wrote a letter to the editor but have received no reply. My last horse was an Arabian stallion, Chief Comanche. Well, he was gelded at age 14 after failing to get my mare pregnant three years in a row, but he was always a stallion in his own mind. We had our problems, but he was incredible. He really took care of me at the end when my spine/nerve problem had progressed to the point I was almost unable to climb the mounting block to get on him. I had long since given up trying to put a saddle on him, lifting it was just too hard; I felt more secure bareback anyway. When I had a severe muscle spasm, he could feel it coming on before I could and stood stock still, except to move under me if I started sliding off to one side or another. I was blessed with two once-in-a-lifetime horses, and I am still grateful. Priney went to the Bridge at age 23, and Chief at 26.

I have been given free rein (no pun intended) to pick my own topic. So, I’m going to talk about my puzzle books (and a couple of other books). All are out of print, but probably available on Amazon. They are If Wishes Were Horses – Quotations and Proverbs for Horsepeople (published by Mountain Press Publishing); the following published by the now defunct Half Halt Press: Horse Trivia a Hippofile’s Delight; Hidden Horses: 101 Puzzles, Games and Quizzes; Hidden Horses 2: 101 More Puzzles Games and Quizzes; and The Big Book of Hidden Horses. Which is not good. It was supposed to be two books, another trivia book and a third Hidden Horses book. What turned out was a mess; I’ll probably be using the trivia in that book and my first trivia book, at least in part, in the book I’m working on now. Which I know will never be published, but I persevere. Keeps me sane. Well, sort of sane. (I self-published Hidden Horses 3 the way it was supposed to be in a limited edition, of which I only have my one copy left.)

I also write puzzles – mostly word search – for magazines. It’s not as easy as one might think, especially when you’ve got restrictions on grid size and number of clues required. And to come up with literally hundreds of puzzles on the same topic, it can get hairy. But the benefit of writing for a specific audience, like horsepeople, is that you can assume some previous knowledge of the subject and therefore throw in cross-words, criss-crosses, quizzes, and other variations on a theme, as well as word search puzzles. For more general audiences word search puzzles are easiest, as the clues are right there. Easiest to solve, that it, not necessarily to write.

I’ve been writing word search puzzles for Linn’s Stamp News, a weekly newspaper for stamp collectors, since 1988, and the difficulty there isn’t picking topics, but picking topics which have appeared on enough postage stamps to make a decent puzzle.

For my first book, I actually used a manual typewriter and carbon paper, and had to retype an entire page (or more) if made a mistake. Then I moved to an electronic typewriter – still using carbon paper and re-typing pages; then I finally moved on to a computer. My first computer was little more than than a glorified word-processor, but compared to what I had been using, it was delightful! Then came the PC, in several incarnations, and now the laptop. I hope this is it for a while.

I worked on that first puzzle book at the same time as I was shopping around the manuscript. It took 10 years. Half-Halt Press wasn’t even in business when I started writing that first book. Now, I need to find a publisher to pick up the books I’ve already written, and get them back in print.They all sold out their original print runs so someone must have liked them. (Anyone happen to know or be a publisher?)

Thank you for reading my attempt at a blog, and thanks to my gracious hostess who invited me.

Publications List
BOOKS
Hidden Horses 3: Puzzles, Word Games and Quizzes. Completely revised and expanded. Rockville, MD: self-published, 2011
The Big Book of Hidden Horses: Puzzles, quizzes, trivia & more.  Boonsboro, MD: Half Halt Press, 2006 [book review]
If Wishes Were Horses: Quotations and Proverbs for Horsepeople.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press, 1995
Horse Trivia A Hippofile’s Delight. Boonsboro, MD: Half Halt  Press, 1995
Hidden Horses 2: 101 More Puzzles, Games & Quizzes.  Boonsboro, MD:  Half Halt Press, 1994
Hidden Horses: 101 Puzzles, Games and Quizzes. Middletown, MD: Half-Halt Press, 1991

ARTICLES
“Horses on the Internet: Equine On-Line Sites Part II”  in Miniature Horse Voice,  vol. 8 no. 7 (May 2001), pp. 32-34
“Horses on the Internet: Equine On-Line Sites Part I” in Miniature  Horse Voice, vol. 8 no. 6 (April 2001), p. 17
“The Guppy” in Topical Time, vol. 50 no. 1 (Jan.-Feb. 1999), p.34-35
“Horse-Drawn Vehicles” in Topical Time, vol. 43 no. 4 (July-Aug. 1992), p. 25-28
“Philatelic Horses of Myth and Legend” in Topical Time, vol. 43 no. 3 (May-June 1992), p.26-27
“Inclusive or Exclusive? One Viewpoint” in Topical Time, vol. 42 no. 5 (Sept.-Oct. 1991), p.58-60
“Collies on Stamps” in DOSSU Journal, July-Sept. 1990, p.4-6
“Collies on Postage Stamps” in Topical Time, vol. 41 no. 4 (July-Aug. 1990), p.21-23
“Horseman’s Guide to Acronyms and Abbreviations” in 1989 Horseman’s Service Directory and Desk Reference,  1988, p.12-13

MANUALS
“Library Policy/Procedure Manual” for Information Systems and Networks, Corporate Headquarters, Bethesda, MD, 1989
“Library Policy/Procedure Manual” for the Research and Technical Services Division Library, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington, D.C., 1989

PUZZLES, WORD GAMES, QUIZZES (The detailed list runs to 20+ pages.)
My puzzles have appeared in the following publications:
AHPA News, 1993
American Miniaturist, 2005
The Bibliophile, 1987
The Chronicle of the Horse, 1985, 1988
The DOSSU Journal, 1991
Freshwater and Marine Aquarium, 1996, 2004
Friends of Doctor Who Newsletter, 1989, 1992 – 1994
The Gaited Horse, 1999
Horse Country, 1986
HorseWorld USA, 1989
ISN Library News, 1990
Linn’s Stamp News, regular contributor since 1988, Contributor Bios
Miniature Collector, 1997
Miniature Horse Voice, 1996
Miniature Quilts, 1999
Of Sea and Shore, 1991
Rural Heritage, 1998
Stable Kids, 1999
Topical Time, 1996 – 1998