We All Have Our Periods

Few recent postings…no site improvements…extremely overdue podcast. What the heck’s going on over at Ashamblesburg, you might ask. Or, you might not.

My excuses are many and quite varied. And not really worth mentioning, other than to say I’m physically and mentally exhausted, and going through a non-creative period. I still have plenty of ideas and subjects to write about, but I can’t shape them into a presentable form. Too many distractions. Too busy. The kids are too demanding. The blog traffic is too low for me to put much effort into this right now.

For the Windows users out there who enjoy opening Task Manager to see the list of processes running on your machine, I decided to open the task list in my brain to find out which processes are sapping my mental resources. Here’s the log:

brainprocesses.jpg

The good news is that the next two episodes of The Detuned Revue (a 2-part party mix!) have been sitting on my computer for several weeks at 90% completion. That means it won’t take much of a push to get the first part posted over the next few days. The second part will follow soon after. Please show your support for this spiffy podcast by listening, commenting and telling your family and friends about it. I’ve had virtually no hits on the podcast, so I can only assume that either no one likes what I play or everyone is now into Web video (YouTube, etc.) instead. Or could it be that podcasts were never the huge phenomenon the media made them out to be?

I thought maybe The Detuned Revue simply sucked and everybody was too nice to tell me, but then I listened to a few of the more popular podcasts on Digital Podcast and found mine to be equal or superior in content and packaging (in my opinion, anyway). Am I wrong? Any suggestions on what I could change to grab more listeners? Or should I end the podcast altogether and put the effort into something else at Ashamblesburg?

Feed The Tree

Curious readers, may I direct your attention to the bottom of this page where a miraculous process is taking place. Through the magic of JavaScript, you can now view the 5 most recent headlines from Our Shady Tree, Jennifer’s wondrous family blog. If a headline catches your eye and you want to read the posting, simply click the headline and you’re off to the races!

The JavaScript I used to pull this off simply points to the XML (RSS or Atom) feed for Jennifer’s blog, and the headlines update whenever you view or refresh an Ashamblesburg page. I put a similar script on Our Shady Tree that points back to Life A Shambles and displays headlines on the sidebar. I was forced to place the feed in the footer here because Squarespace apparently doesn’t support JavaScript in their "passthrough" modules on the sidebar. I hope they eventually address this limitation.

But enough about my problems. You’re probably wondering whether you can put a feed on your own blog. Why most certainly! My hours of research and testing have come to this easy recommendation–copy the URL for the XML feed (any feed should work) you want to appear on your blog or Web site, then go to Feed2JS and follow the instructions for generating a "feed-to-JavaScript" script. Next, copy your script and paste it into the links section of your blog sidebar, or position it somewhere on your Web page. If you want to include additional feeds, just follow the same procedure for each.

I did find another site that offers an RSS-To-JavaScript generator with more features, but I couldn’t get it to work with Atom feeds. FeedBurner will let you convert your Atom feed to RSS (attention Blogger users!), but even with conversion enabled the script wouldn’t display the Our Shady Tree headlines. I suspect that Blogger uses some kind of non-standard formatting.

If you have trouble getting your feeds to work, please email me and I might be able to offer limited assistance based on my experiences.

A Few Pointers

I know that many people would consider bowling a 136 game to be exciting news, but I’ve done something even more audacious. You guessed it…I registered my first domain! This very blog ( yes, the one you’re reading) now answers to www.ashamblesburg.com when called from your browser. The old ashamblesburg.squarespace.com address still works, so there’s no need to update your links unless you’re really bored.

It’s amazing how easy and inexpensive the domain registration process has become. And with the simple instructions and features provided by Squarespace, I had the new domain pointed to this blog within minutes. Along the way I also gained a greater understanding of how the Web works. Registering a domain basically just lists your address in a huge directory, then the rest is controlled by pointers between this directory listing and any servers that need to recognize it as a legitimate Web address.

I had to upgrade my Squarespace account in order to point the www.ashamblesburg.com address to it, but this means I now have more bandwidth and storage space available! You’ll soon notice that 3 or 4 weeks of The Detuned Revue are available instead of just 2, and I’ll be able to host more pictures and other files. Fortunately, I didn’t need to sign up for additional Web hosting services because the domain registration company I used allows me to "park" my address on their servers and point it directly to Ashamblesburg.

Life on the Web is good! I do appreciate all my faithful readers out there. But now it’s time to put a greater effort toward enhancing my content in hopes of attracting more traffic.  A lot of work.

Words Untangled

If you’re a songwriter in need of lyrics, or if you know a songwriter who has lots of music but no words, may I direct your attention to my Tangled Words journal.

This journal is a repository of a cross-section of a sample of a fraction of the self proclaimed "better" things I’ve written lately (more from my extensive backlog will be posted over time). You’ll find the occasional poem or essay, but most are meant to be song lyrics. I rarely write them with a complete or original tune in mind, but I often have a certain existing song in mind that I use as a template for structure, rhythm and feeling.

Please feel free to use these lyrics any way you see fit. All I ask for is a songwriting or "Lyrics By" credit and a copy of the final work. I do have experience writing songs as a member of a band, collaborating with bands of which I’m not a member and working with individual artists. I invite you to alter the lyrics any way you like, or I will work with you on rewrites. And if you have a piece of music that none of my lyrics seem to fit, I’ll even work with you (or independently) to write brand new words for your tune.

All I ask is that you please don’t steal my work. I’m not looking for one cent of profit from anything I’ve written–just recognition as the original author. If I discover any unauthorized use, I’ll track you down and brand your forehead with a giant © !

3 Minute Tour

I’ve noticed that a lot of you are paying regular visits to My Life Ashambles, which I infinitely appreciate (no doubt you keep expecting to see new posts–ha ha!). But traffic is rather low on the other sections of this site, and I realized that I have failed to give a proper tour of all that Ashamblesburg has to offer.

This blog is structured somewhat strangely, partly out of the flexibility afforded by Squarespace and partly out of sheer ignorance when I set it up. Rather than a traditional blog format where all the entries form a huge column which might be about one or more subjects, I’ve constructed several different blogs on one site. Some have multiple subjects and some are more singular. Some are purely discussion sections while others only contain links, photo galleries or file download areas. The result is somewhere between a blog and a standard Web site.

Here’s a list of the various modules and sections at Ashamblesburg and a brief description of each:

My Life Ashambles — this is the main blog that you see when arriving at ashamblesburg.squarespace.com. It currently consists of two subjects–"Bloggery", which is my random thoughts about various subjects, and "Site Info", which keeps you apprised of changes to the site.

Tangled Words — where I dump my original poetry, lyrics and other creative writing endeavors. You will also occasionally find discussions of writers, books, poetry, essays, articles, blogs, etc. here.

Cautious Consumption — contains posts about consumer awareness issues and features reviews of products and services, as well as alerts about good deals I’ve found on stuff.

The Issue Box — meant to be a forum for discussing hot-button issues away from the main blog, where they can be easily ignored by those who shun heated political, religious or ethical discussions.

AudioVisual Mayhem — all about music, movies, TV, radio and visual arts. New podcasts are announced here, and every two months I post a playlist of the music I’ve listened to in that time.

MegaPixel Chaos — a picture gallery of family pictures and more. Just click the thumbnails for a larger image. Many expensive print packages are available from the photographer.

Download Disarray — Lots of fun and useful files organized by subject. Video and audio files, software, documents and The Detuned Revue are housed in this location.

Unpasteurized Links — except for Our Shady Tree, the modules under this section take you to a page of links organized by subject. These desperately need to be updated and expanded, so I have quite a bit of work to do here. Discombobulated Locations is a list of friend’s sites, and other places you can find me on the Web.

Recent Activity — an extremely handy module for quickly viewing all new posts and updates throughout Ashamblesburg! A one-stop service for those of you with busy lifestyles.

XML Feeds! — if you’re into news aggregators (or angry gators), you can subscribe to individual Ashamblesburg modules. Then you can keep up with new posts and podcasts though automatic notification.

Archives d’Ashamblesburg — dig up entries from the days of Ashamblesburg past in these four archives. Organized by month and year.

The rest is rather self-explanatory. Whether you want to email me or leave general comments about the site, or if you simply want to make your presence known, we have modules to accommodate every whim. I hope this helps everyone find their way around Ashamblesburg with greater ease. I’ll be watching those traffic reports carefully.   Bouncing a ball.

Ashamblesburg Annex

If I may direct your attention to the Unpasteurized Links section to the right, you’ll notice that a new link has been added. A single click on Our Shady Tree will whisk you off to another blog–one that was recently created by my gorgeously competent wife, who we’ve come to know as "Jennifer".

While Ashamblesburg is focused on subjects such as insects, flaming skulls, enormous gorillas and geeky college music, Our Shady Tree is more concerned with family matters, fabrics and other dainty, motherly things. It’s the fabled "woman’s touch" that’s missing from the rustic downtown sections of Ashamblesburg. You can visit Our Shady Tree for another perspective on my life ashambles, and perhaps leave with a yummy new recipe. Trust me when I say, Jen would never lead you astray!

Fanfare For The Common Podcast

As promised, the first episode of my bi-weekly podcast The Detuned Revue has been slapped together (with a meticulous slapping procedure that exceeds industry quality standards, of course) and is available for download.  I’m still working on streaming and syndicating this extravaganza, so until that’s done you’ll have to download it to listen. I kept the file size as small as possible to ease the pain of downloads over dialup.

Please let me know what you think!