Shoulblog Turns Two!

Mardi Gras King Cake, from

It’s Shoulblog’s birthday! Two years ago today (OK, not exactly two years, but it was two Fat Tuesdays ago), this thing launched. This was the first post; you can judge for yourself if I’ve made any progress in that time.

With the anniversary, the blog has a new look. I adopted a new WordPress “theme” (it’s called Twenty Eleven, if you’re into that kind of thing—the old theme was called Contempt), which allows a little more flexibility. One reason I like the new one is the typography; the font seems a little larger, cleaner. The headlines are bigger and better-distinguished from the text. Ditto for the content in the sidebar (which, it seems, you don’t see on individual post pages, but if you click on “Home” or on the header, it’ll be back).

The biggest change is in the header, which now includes a photograph; it’s actually several different photographs, which will rotate in random order with each new page you open. I’ll be adding some smaller tweaks as time goes on.

The Year, In One Paragraph

Looking back over the last year of blogging, the longest (and most important, to me, anyway) thing I’ve written was “You Are Welcome Here,” which traced my return to the church I grew up in, if not necessarily all of its teachings. That post also took the longest to write; I probably worked on it for about three months, although I knew fairly early on that it was probably going to be the Christmas post, so I didn’t have to hurry it. Otherwise, the posts ebbed and flowed through the year. Last February, I didn’t post at all, nor was there much in March or April; partly because I was preoccupied with a speaking engagement, detailed here. (I found that one kind of funny; my son thought it was sad.) It was a lousy year for running—reflected in the fact that I only wrote a handful of times about it—but a pretty good year for list-making; there were several lists about music, about sports, even a list about lists. And I’ve started keeping track of the books I’ve read, both as a way of sharing recommendations and to spur myself to read more; the first two posts in this series are here and here. I did a little bit of traveling in 2011, and managed to write about trips to Northern Illinois and New Mexico, which is my new home, although I don’t live there just yet. December was something of a somber month, with remembrances of my brother Jim and of my mother, along with a plea for quieter and simpler Christmas music. January brought only two posts, including my annual “Pictures Of…” gallery, which seems to be pretty popular. Also along the way in the last year, there were posts about my family history, about the greatest album ever recorded, and other assorted silliness.

Other than the ongoing lists, I have no idea what the next year will bring. OK, well I do have some ideas…

Thanks For Reading!

Thanks to everyone who has commented, or “liked” a post, or shared a post on Facebook. I love the feedback, positive or negative.

By the way, I will usually put something on Facebook when I post here, but not always. Same for Twitter, when I remember to go there (which isn’t often, honestly). And occasionally I’ll e-mail a post to friends who might not see it otherwise. If you want to make sure you don’t miss any posts, you can “subscribe” to the blog by entering your e-mail address in the box at the right—that will get you an automatic e-mail every time I post something, if you’re so inclined. Or you can subscribe via RSS, which allows you to follow one or many blogs from one convenient page. There are lots of RSS readers out there; I use Google Reader and follow about a hundred blogs that way.

As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll come back often!

A Birthday Party

I can hear you asking: John, how is it that you, who are so attuned to dates and anniversaries (more examples here and here and here ), how did you let your blog’s first birthday slip by uncelebrated?

Excellent question, and thanks for asking.

Actually, although I pledge allegiance to the Gregorian calendar — despite its unequal months, its awkward solution to the extra-quarter-day problem and its odd names for the last four months — it felt like the Shoulblog Anniversary needed a more, well, celestial observation. So, following on the scientific wisdom of ancient Christians (that’s a joke, in case you don’t know me very well), Shoulblog decided to adopt a lunisolar dating system.

My first blog post was on February 16, 2010. That was 47 days before the Sunday after the first full moon after the 2010 vernal equinox. With me so far? So we’ll use the same general calculation for all future Shoulblog Anniversaries. That means the big day for 2011 is  … March 8, or tomorrow!

In the future, to avoid having to go through all those calculations, you can get any halfway decent calendar, and look in the spring months for “Ash Wednesday.” Count back exactly one day, and you have our big day. If you have a truly excellent calendar, the day itself will be denoted as “Mardi Gras.” In the future, truly excellent AND hip calendars will call the day what it is: Shoulblog Anniversary!

Here in St. Louis, the World Headquarters for Shoulblog, the anniversary celebration has been going on for a week, and will come to a head tomorrow evening with a big parade  downtown. This follows an even bigger parade held last Saturday. Tomorrow night’s celebration promises to be an exciting and raucous affair: strangers will unite, beer will be drunk, beads will be thrown, breasts will be bared, revelers will fall down … you get the idea.

However you celebrate out there, though, please be careful. We want you around to be reading Shoulblog for years to come!


This is the first post in my new blog.

I’m hoping that a year from now, I’ll look back here and be profoundly embarrassed at how little I knew about blogs and blogging when I started. To be honest, it’s a little intimidating right now. Believe me, I know I have a lot to learn. As time passes — and I know from experience that it does — this blog will improve, in terms of both content and design.

So why do I do this? Well, I’ve been on Facebook for a year or so, and while I enjoy that community, it feels very limited in terms of how much one can express one’s self. For instance, I can do a status about a good run I’ve had, but a status update doesn’t give me a whole lot of room to describe just HOW good it was. And then if I have more thoughts about running the next day and do another status, I start to sound one-dimensional – the guy who just posts about his running (and don’t worry, I DO know how boring that would become).

I also want to use this to try out some different kinds of writing. I deal with words a lot at work, of course, and I do some writing that’s strictly for myself, but I’d like to do more “public” writing that’s, frankly, not about barges.

So this blog will cover a lot of ground: running, writing, photography, politics, and other topics. I’ll try to keep it fresh, but you should know that I do tend to surf various obsessions for a while. I might get into writing for a few weeks and spend most of my waking time thinking about it, and you’ll get a lot of blog posts relating to writing goals, plans on how I’m going to have a novel published within a year, etc. And then something else will take over and I’ll suddenly be writing posts about photoshop techniques or chess openings or something going on in politics. That’s why this will never be a blog “about” anything in particular — but hopefully there will be enough variety here to at least make you want to check back once in a while.

And hey, feel free to comment on anything you see here that you find interesting. I’d love to hear from you!

This first post is on February 16 for a reason: it’s Mardi Gras,  my favorite religious holiday of the year. What better time to start something new? So, as with Mardi Gras, let the good times roll!