Mrs B’s appeal was approved for her medication so we’re good until October. Then we have to deal with the situation all over again. We’ll cross that hurdle when it comes though.
Work. This month made me realize in full that nobody but myself is going to have my back at my current company.
Church was great. In July Mrs B and I had spent all month helping out the lone teacher for Sunday school because nobody else was stepping up. Unfortunately, sunday school takes place during the sermon, so we missed an entire month. Once the situation was brought to the leader’s attention, the pastor and elders got right into the congregation’s face about pew sitting and that going to church is as much about serving as it is being spiritually fed. It was great to see the leadership take this seriously and support the teacher. Made both of us happy to be where we are at. We now see the schedule filled out until the end of the year and nobody is helping out or teaching more than once a month. The burden is being shared.
Bookwise, while the number of books I read stayed the same, my ratings dropped but my pages and words increased. Basically, I read bigger books that were crappier 😉 hahahahaa, isn’t that just the way of things?
Not even a contest. Towers of Midnight, hands down, holding all the aces while jumping off a plane wearing 200 pounds of dynamite and riding a shark, into an exploding volcano. Yeah, it won that much.
Plans for Next Month:
My visual medium reading is going to get a big boost in terms of variety. I refuse to read so much Spawn and so will be adding some Bone comics as well as the Asterix and Obelix comics. Should help make Thursdays less monotonous and hopefully appeal to a slightly wider variety of readers. Plus, lets be honest, there’s only so much action posing I can take from Spawn before I want to punch the artist (Todd McFarlane) in the face.
Really hit the ground running with getting back into the visual medium. One Piece, while a re-read for the first bit, is just as amusing as ever and I think I’m going to do just fine with twice a month Manga Mondays.
The Spawn comics on the other hand, I just don’t know. They are pushing the boundaries of what I’ll accept for gruesome violence. I’m very conflicted at the moment.
I started using an insulin pump again after almost 13 years. It’s already making a difference and I’m generally feeling better. Being of a more hirsute nature there’s been a lot more shaving so the pod can stick to my body properly but man, the control is so much greater than I ever had with a needle. The picture below is of Kris Freeman, an olympic skier, who has type 1 diabetes. The pump is the white patch on his arm. It can also go on the belly and the thighs. I tried to find some other pictures, but they all tended to be of the skinny scantily clad women modeling the pod. Those kind of pictures don’t have a place on my blog. I was going to use a picture of myself modeling the pump but I didn’t want to make ol’ Kris there feel bad. You can tell he’s really trying but he’s just not up to my level, poor guy.
I read more “books” this month but with 5 of the 20 being comics that hit my Pages and Words numbers pretty hard. I’m ok with that though because it helped me fill in an entire month of Thursdays without having to be “creative” and come up with my own posts. While the writing well has definitely been filling up, I’m not really feeling the creativity. Once that comes back I’ll know I’m 100% back in the blogging game.
We got hit upside the head with some insurance stuff concerning the medication Mrs B has been taking for the last 8 or 9 years so we’re kind of in shock. That’s where our focus is at the moment and it’s going to necessitate some big life changes no matter how it gets resolved (new medication, new job/insurance or something we haven’t thought of yet, we just don’t know).
Plans for Next Month:
Definitely keeping Manga Monday going. I’ll let Spawn have it’s chance until the end of August and then decide if I’ll continue or not. If anyone has some suggestions for digital comics, I’m open to ideas.
I suspect August is going to be another review heavy month but I’m going to make an effort to add some non-review posts so it doesn’t become too heavy. I was thinking I hadn’t written any non-review posts for July but looking up above, there were 7 of them, so maybe August is going to be a carbon-copy of July?
The fifth and final season of the Muppet Show is on tap and I’ll continue my Project X series of posts. Trying to leave some days open for those “spontaneous” posts that pop out of me late at night (or used to anyway). So who knows what you’ll end up getting.
Oh man, where to start? I started the month being sick as all get out and was put on antibiotics. I was out of work for over a week. Then my coworker was diagnosed with lyme’s disease and some other tick born disease. So I have to be concerned about that as we’ve worked together for the last year and been in the same areas. Work is just sucking up everything I have. Physically, emotionally, psychologically, work is taking it all. Thankfully there is a time table for me leaving, but hanging on til then is going to be rough.
Being sick for that long also meant I missed a couple of weeks of church and did I feel that! Was very glad to get healthy and be back.
Just kind of trundled along trying to survive. My writing mojo has started to come back so we’ll see if July has any more non-reviews than June. I’m not pressuring myself though and I’ll just write stuff when I feel like it and if I don’t feel like it, well, this IS a book review blog after all. I’ve also stopped looking at my stats on a monthly basis. That has helped remove some stress as well. Every little bit counts.
My attitude was pretty bad most of the month and I took it out on the books I read. The low average rating reflects that quite accurately.
What a bleeping month. I completely lost my writing mojo. It was so bad that I didn’t even want to comment on anyone’s posts. I simply coasted the whole month and let my past me, who did this month’s writing, bear the burden. So you know how I’m always talking about getting ahead, well, I completely blew that buffer (again). But this is EXACTLY why I do that. I still had posts going up but didn’t get any scheduled for June.
Work sucked the joy from my soul. I was looking forward to this 3day weekend the whole month. Not a good place to be.
And because I was really looking forward to the long weekend, what happens? I get sunburnt and sick. I slept most of Saturday away, didn’t go to church on Sunday and pretty much just recovered. It made reading anything hard to enjoy and forget about eating yummy foods, I was stuck with tea and hot soups. And I was so looking forward to chili cheese dogs too!
Plans for Next Month:
Write. I have the whole month planned out in regards to my book reviews and even the majority of my non-review posts. It’s all going to depend on how I feel. If I feel like writing, then I’ll catch up in no time. If I don’t feel like writing though, June is going to be VERY light on posts.
This month was all over the place, much like the weather. Work was steady (which is always good!) but they tried pressuring us to 50hr weeks near the beginning of the month (which was bad). Every time they gave us the old “gotta work longer and harder” speech we just nodded and said “yep, sure, uh huh” and kept to our 9hr day. Except for when we didn’t. I suspect May we’re going to stick to 9hrs period. I was exhausted by the end of this month.
The weather. We had a week where I was in short sleeves the whole week. Then in the middle of the month we got a bloody snowstorm! Of course, it was only an inch and the rain immediately washed it all away, but still, come on, a snow storm? Good thing I kept my smartwool winter socks out.
Reading was good. While nothing was super duper spectacular, the fact that nothing was below a 3 meant I could just coast. It is just so nice when your books make your life easier.
The Ruby Knight definitely wins this month’s cover love. And despite Ol’10‘s many protests in the comment section of the review about me lying down on the job, I’d just like to point out that to this day I have yet to see ONE dead monster as evidence of him doing any actual work. His monthly raisin allotment has been curtailed for May. Let that be a lesson to you all! There can be severe consequences to commenting on this blog.
Plans for Next Month:
Since I finished up Yotsuba, I now have to choose another manga to dive into. I think I’m going to take a break in May and look around and see what looks appetizing. So no Manga Monday’s for May.
The Muppet Show Season 2 is on tap and should deliver some nice light entertainment.
Mr Zip is getting a new stuffed companion and he’s all set to make his debut on the blog this month with at least 2 posts. Mr Zip would have been jealous but I bribed him with a bucket of chicken fingers so he’s happy as a monkey 😉
I found an old box of comics and was digging through them to see if they were appropriate for a 12 year old at church. The only series I wasn’t sure about was called Cyber Force. I’m going to be reading and reviewing those. Five issues at 32 pages a pop shouldn’t be hard to deal with.
Other than that, we’ll play it by ear. My goal is to finally get 4 weeks ahead of publishing schedule but we’ll see if I can do that or not. I really like having a 4 week buffer in case something comes up and I don’t want to write.
There was sunshine this month. Actual days where the sun shone the entire day. You have no idea how much that helped me.
♪There is Sunshine ♪ in my soul today!♪
I figured out that part of the issue of why blogging last month wasn’t fun was because of stress. I’m hoping the issues take care of themselves but at least I’ve identified some specifics so if it crops up again I can nip it in the bud instead of letting it drag me down. Took a baby step or two in this direction and hope that was enough to change the overall direction.
I was THIS happy to get so much reading done. I haven’t read 17 books since last September. The only downside was that I had to write 17 reviews but that did mean I didn’t have to write so much fluff. Sometimes I worry about things like that. While I’ll be the first to deny that I’m a “critic”, I still want to take myself seriously and that can be really hard to do when I write things like The First Rule of Secret Skull Club™ Is….. At the same time I do not want to become one of those bloggers who get so serious about their pet subject that they act like they have a stick of dynamite up their backside.
I talked about the cover a little bit in the review for Winter’s Heart. Looking at it right now, Rand’s coat reminds me very much of Vash the Stampede’s coat from the anime Trigun.
Plans for Next Month:
Resurrection Day is next Sunday and I’m planning a slightly different style of post for that than I have done in the past 4 years. Project X, Manga Mondays, Currently Reading & Quotes, those are going to be regularly scheduled as usual. Book Reviews, well, if you’re really good little bloggers Santa Bookstooge might just have a couple of them for you, all nice and shiny! If you’re bad little bloggers, well, I’ll post disco posts where Bookstoogevolta does his thing in that neon green disco suit. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Is the month really over? Don’t toy with me, tomorrow IS March, right? February’s have always been bad for me and this one felt particularly brutal. Weather was horrible with snow, cold, rain, no sun, then some more snow. Work sucked with too much to do, not enough help, office manager being a real jerk. Blogging sucked because I’d come home exhausted and not have the energy to deal with anything online.
By the end of the month I was running on caffeine and that affected me emotionally and that made EVERYTHING seem about 10x bigger than it actually was. Pay a bill? Oh my goodness, talk about the end of the world. 3 loads of laundry when I was expecting 2? Laundrypocalypse and I’ll just go kill myself, thank you very much. Run out of soda? Job obviously didn’t know the meaning of REAL suffering.
Thankfully, by the halfway mark I realized what was going on with me and started to take steps to give me a buffer. I think I started too late though so I was in survival mode longer than I wanted to be. Still am in fact.
This is not the cover I used for my review of the Path of Daggers, but of the 4 covers I’ve seen, I liked this the best. Gateways, Birgette, the Seanchan, this has it all.
Plans for Next Month:
Reviews. And then some more reviews. And just to break things up, another couple of reviews! Having the Gulag off my back has made me feel like a speed reader and I’m taking full advantage of that for as long as it lasts. 📚📕📖📗📘📙
Since I don’t want to overwhelm you all with my overly long and indepth book analyses, I’ll be sure to add a puff piece here and there. Don’t let it be said that The Bookstooge never pandered to the hoi poloi!
In regards to the aforementioned “suckiness”, if things do continue that way I’ll be pulling back from being online as much. Might not be commenting as much in general and might have to save the replies to comments on here to the weekends. Blogging in February felt like a battle and I don’t want that to continue. Blogging is supposed to be fun and I’m evaluating what all contributed to it not being fun this past month.
The Muppet Movie was laughing, grinning, dancing, singing fun! I have a feeling this Year of the Muppets is going to be good for me.
So this month I turned into one of those book reviewers that I’ve come to not particularly care for over the years. The ones that have more non-reviews than reviews on their blog and as you scroll by vapid posts of nothing, desperately looking for a review, your hope dwindles. My minimum preference has always been 50/50. That simply didn’t happen with my read of Gulag II going on. I feel shame. My family feels shame. My cow feels shame!
Ok, with that out of the way, here’s the list, sigh.
What a month this turned out to be. From a national & political level to a personal level, I was glad to see the backside of January. Being bombarded by pure propaganda by the news outlets didn’t help, especially as I was seeing direct parallels to what I was reading in Gulag Vol II. After the second day I just turned the radio off to keep my sanity.
My laptop also just up and died part way through the month. While a smaller thing, it definitely added to the stress of “everything”. Throw in that we found out our car is going to need about $1K of work to pass inspection in a couple of months and well, it all kept adding up. It still amazes me how unsmooth life is. You’d think I’d be used to the bumpy (at best) ride by now. Speaking of rides, better start saving ’cause gas is going up to $5 a gallon way too soon.
And then of course, right at the very end of the month I went dotcom. Definitely a spur of the moment thing but I had been thinking about it for some time. The damnable NSP’s were the last straw.
Ahhh, one final McKillip cover. While it’s not a Kinuko Craft cover, it definitely is aiming for that same touch. Love it!
Plans for Next Month:
My mind was all over the place this month so I kept making, and breaking, plans for February. I finally decided to stop trying to plan and just let stuff happen. So besides the usual suspects of Movie and Manga Monday, my only planned thing is a book giveaway and starting my Project X in earnest. I’ll make up the rest of February as it happens.
Gulag II slowed me down so much that if not only affected January but has pre-emptively affected February already. I’m usually about 3 weeks ahead in my reviews. Now? I’m a week and struggling. As such, prepare for another onslaught of non-review posts like in January. I’m already sharpening my sepuku knife and sword in preparation.
ps, is this format of Monthly Roundups getting stale for you? I realized I’ve been doing this since my Booklikes days, so we’re talking over 5 years now. Just wondering if I need to change things up any.
My book’ish numbers were up from last year across the board. My manga numbers are about the same so it means the books ARE actually up. This is confirmed by the Page Count being up as well. While 0.25 might not seem a lot, it is a significant boost in the Ratings. Overall, I’m happy with how my reading for 2020 went.
I stopped pruning my followers part way through the year and that is the real reason for the bump in followers. I wrote a lot more too and more posts tend to translate into more of everything else. Including the damnable Spanish Spam Bots! Thankfully, that particular issue has been dealt with, even while not being solved.
Right now, I am happy with all of my numbers. If I can stay here and not get any bigger, that would be good. I like this level of activity and it is quite reasonable to handle as a hobby. Any bigger and things would start getting stressful for me. I also know myself and if I were to get any bigger I’d start really obsessing about “stats” and all the other stuff that is beyond my control as a blogger. I don’t need or want that. I’m an airplane and I’m at cruising altitude! Slip those sunshades on, turn on the autopilot, sit back and enjoy the ride.
What a year it’s been here at WordPress.com. Can I just take a minute as we all swear, profusely and at length, about the Block Editor? * clenches fists and swears for 5 minutes *
Ok. Now that that is out of the way, I can talk calmly and rationally about the huge gigantic fuster cluck that the Block Editor was and continues to be. While I am now inured to it and have my routine down (so it doesn’t take me forever to do something like it used to), I have seen bloggers leave because of it. When bloggers leave, you know something isn’t right. WordPress has definitely taken a direction into the “pay for websites” side of things instead of using casual bloggers to increase their reach. The block editor still doesn’t work right all the time, has less capability than the previous editor (where’s my scheduling calendar you flaming jackasses!?!?) and simply isn’t meant for writing. Which makes using it a continually frustrating experience as things seem to break on a weekly basis for no apparent reason. If I hadn’t already sunk in so much time with my Under Construction Project here at WP, I’d have left too. At this point though, I’ve invested enough sweat equity that I don’t see myself leaving WP for anything less than leaving blogging in general.
On the positive side of things. This year has been the best I’ve had at WP since I started full time in December of ’16. My numbers started growing in March and slowly but steadily grew all year. I’m sure Covid19 played a big part, but even with my rather outspoken Christian views on several controversial social issues, the views haven’t gone down. While I wish I could take credit, I didn’t really do anything different, that I’m aware of, than I have in previous years. I’ve just been me. That means the blame is squarely on you. It’s all your fault I had a great year and I hold YOU directly responsible.
Keeping track of my Word Count has been beneficial in that it’s another metric to measure my monthly stats. This is the first Year in Review where I include that data so I don’t have anything to compare it too, yet.
Of course, the Churn has continued to happen. People stop blogging (and not just because of the hated block editor) and I’m continually on the lookout for new people to follow. I change, other bloggers change. It is not a static environment and I think this year I’ve finally come to an acceptance of that. I will enjoy your company for as long as you choose to hang around but I refuse to be anxious in anticipation of you leaving.
Another year on blogger. They changed their editor at the exact same time that WordPress did, so what should have been an easy transition turned into a bloody nightmare because of all the stress caused by WordPress. I’ve got it all settled now and simply put my reviews there. No social posts, no fun post, nothing but the reviews. I consider blogger my blogging backup. I learned, from a young age, not to put all my money in one bank and, when I got older, not to put all my data only on one site. Blogger is my cash hidden under the mattress.
LibraryThing. What to say? They ALSO changed their site near the end of the year. Thankfully, since I’m not invested very heavily, the changes didn’t really affect me beyond some cosmetic look&feel type things. I am still a member of the Green Dragon, but to keep within the guidelines of not discussing Religion or Politics, I simply put links to WordPress in my thread. Not ideal and I’m wondering if it will last through ’21 or not. I only interact with a literal handful of people and after sounding them out, most of them get my WP posts emailed to them anyway. Librarything is a fourth line of backup defense.
Every time that I try to interact in a bigger group, it just falls flat on its face and I get pissed off to no end. Telling people that what they said was idiotically stupid and dumb and just plain wrong doesn’t go over very well I have found. Weird, huh?
I tried Devilreads again to see if the pretty pictures and stats you can get at the end of the year were worth the hassle of using yet another book site, and one that I hate at that. Verdict? Totally not worth it. Will not be trying this experiment in 2021. So long devilreads, don’t let the pitchfork spit you where the Good Lord split you. If it weren’t for the fact that I know so many people who happily use devilreads, I’d gladly wish a hacker death to the site.
Bookhype was just a disappointment. I tried it because a former wordpress blogger (who the bleeding block editor drove away by the way) was trying it out and I wanted to keep in touch. That did not happen. Because bookhype isn’t about the social side of things at all. So I’m abandoning that too.
I have talked about Calibre Here. As I continue work on the blog I tweak the reviews in Calibre so everything matches up. But basically, my Calibre database is up to snuff and it’s more about the day to day reviews now. There have been several major upgrades to Calibre this year (a pretty big jump from 3.X to 4 and then a massive upgrade to 5.X) but I’m holding steady at 4.23 until the de-drm plugin is updated. If none of that made any sense, don’t worry, it only should if you’re vested in using Calibre already.
Best Book of the Year:
Great Expectations This was the Year of Dickens and it was a wicked close thing between this and Little Dorrit. Great Expectations won by a whisker though.
Worst Book of the Year:
Kingdom Come I didn’t have a single book this year that I could turn to and easily say “This was the worst book of the year.” I had no half star books and even the 1stars tended to be more “DNF on Principle” than because I hated them. I chose Kingdom Come because it was the one book (besides Rosemary and Rue) that got a real rise out of me.
PLANS FOR 2021:
I actually don’t have any. Survival Saturday didn’t last very long into ’20 and it wouldn’t surprise me if the #6Degrees series follows that trajectory. I seem to have this built-in limiter for how long a specific blog series can run before I just stop it. That does mean that I need to start thinking of something to fill up a Sunday slot or two each month. Any ideas?
Of course, once having written that I don’t have any ideas, they immediately started creeping in. Doesn’t that just figure. 🤷♂️ (And you all can thank SDMcKinley for any and all use of emoji’s I use from now on. He has unleashed the Beast)
My Beloved Dickens reading journey is coming to an end. As I’d like to keep the classics rolling, I’ll be adding a Complete Works of G.K Chesterton and the Complete Works of the Bronte Sisters. They’re no Dickens but they’re better than Susanna Clarke! (boo, hiss)
I am going to “try”, really hard, to do less re-reading this year. I re-read 45 books last year. That is almost 30% of my total reading. I’m not looking to make a huge change, but if I can swing that number to below 25% and closer to 20%, I’ll be happy. There are SO MANY new books and some have been sitting on my tbr for over 2 years now. So I’m going to make concerted effort to only add re-reads that are essential.
For movies, I am thinking of taking the advice of someone from Librarything and making this a Muppet Movie themed year. Whether actual movies or the 1970’s variety show, it just sounds appealing to me. To bootstrap myself, I’ve bought 3 of the movies (the original Muppets, The Great Muppet Caper and Muppet Treasure Island) and the first season of the tv show from the 70’s. Singing, dancing, disco-balls, 2021 is the Year that Bookstoogevolta (me, anti-carnating as John Travolta) brings back Disco!
I have added a Statcounter to my page so I’m hoping to get even more Numb3rs for next year’s Year in Review. It’s free so it only holds so much data but I figure if I add a section to my Monthly Roundup’s I can get a good cross section for the year. I used it in December and it is quite different from the WP stats, so I’m not sure it will be truly helpful until I have several years of data to compare against but considering how I like that kind of thing, I can wait until I have it 😀
This year. What can I say? It was obviously dominated by Covid19 and yet for Mrs B and I, outside of a few church related activities, it didn’t change OUR routine. It changed everyone around us and thus change was forced on us that way. The stress of it all definitely got to us though. Between people turning into Mask Nazi’s and the inability to interact normally, even I was finding myself snappish by years end.
Work slowed down right at the beginning of covid, but after that, we were gangbusters all year long. I learned that I don’t want anything to do with the office or being inside and I am sure my time is limited before I leave because of general conditions even out in the field. Not worrying about that yet though. I have to survive yet another New England winter and that is about all I’m going to mentally deal with at the moment. Mrs B started working nights around Halloween and next week should be the end of that. I’m probably looking forward to it ending more than she is.
I survived the heat of Georgia for 10 days on Our Vacation. It was sorely needed but a mere month after returning it was like it had never happened. I think we could use a year long vacation!
Our church is still open, our cars are still working, our bills are being paid off and we’re getting fat because we have so much food. And we have more books and movies than we have time to consume. I think that qualifies as a good thing.
Here are the top 5 viewed posts in each of the various categories. It isn’t quite equal, as posts from November and December just don’t have the time to accumulate the views.
What an eclectic mix. On a “just because” note, I started writing this post at the beginning of December and included the top 5 from then. In the four weeks since, this list has changed twice. The Great Divorce and The Most Dangerous Game were narrowly bumped off, which is why I’m giving them an honorary mention here.
Anytime I wrote about the block editor I got a flood of views, so I chose the top one to allow some of the other posts to shine. Obviously though, the wordpress community did not, and does not, like the block editor. Personally, I hope wordpress chokes to death on it. Outside of the Vacation post, most were of the more introspective and navel gazing variety of post. I’m perfectly fine with that, as long as you’re gazing at your own navel and not trying to peek at mine.
I think this section is pretty self-explanatory. I am wondering if WP is somehow messing with me in what I think are my top commentors. Without digging around though, with very blunt and almost useless tools provided to this lowly peon by my Lizard Overlords at WP, I am going to have to go with what they supply me.
Movies weren’t high on my list this year and I ended up watching more seasons of anime than anything. I did want to include the recent Muppets Christmas Carol, but with only a week under its belt, it just doesn’t have the numbers to go against the Big Boys that have been around all year. Better luck next year, Michael Caine!
Work for me and Mrs B went as well as could be expected. I’m really ready for her to stop working the night shift though. Thankfully, that’ll happen next week. I can handle one more week. My work show NO inclination to slow down even though we now have a foot of snow on the ground. It’s going to be a slog of a winter, sigh.
The words absolutely spewed out of my fingers this month as I had a post almost every day. I keep saying I don’t know how I’ll keep up that kind of output and then I keep on keeping up. It definitely helped my stats for the month! I plan on talking about the blog stats a bit more in my Year in Review post tomorrow, but this December is the Best Month I’ve ever had here at WordPress. I guess I have you all to thank for that 😉
Just want to put in a plug for AAA if you’re in the United States. Had to have the subaru towed once and then I locked my keys in it and they had to come unlock it. Between those 2 things, my annual membership was more than paid for. Totally worth it if you regularly buy used cars like we do.
Blood Relation by Dan Willis. If my chin looked like that, I’d be breaking concrete blocks with it just because I could. I do see a lack of suspenders though. Vests might look good, but when they cover up your awesome suspenders, well, your priorities are obviously all wrong.
Plans for Next Month:
I think I need to get through the Year in Review before I even think of plans for January. ♪Tomorrow is ♪only a sleep away♪