Picture Perfect

The nice thing about scaling back on my posting commitments for a couple months is that I’ve been able to comb through the site I’ve built this past year and tweak what’s here, refine how it’s displayed or add completely new things.

Most of this is “under the hood” so to speak, but regular readers may notice a few minor changes I’ve made to castironguy.ca over the last week or so.

One of the big things is photo galleries.

I hastily added a photo gallery plugin at the end of June as a means to do some light updates to the site in between my sporadic summer posting schedule. If you haven’t seen that I’ve been updating a Summer 2021 gallery of random photos a few times per week.

I’ve been fascinated by online photo sharing for a long time now. Fascinated? Well, intrigued and captured by the potential of sharing a medium that I love in a fluid and barrier-free way, I guess would be the better explanation.

For years, in fact, I maintained an online gallery that had thousands of photos grouped into hundreds of albums, ranging the gamut from kid-pics to be shared with the family, all the way through to a kind of semi-professional portfolio of my better, high quality images. The effort got dated, of course, content and software-wise. It was lightly hacked. I took it down, archived it and never tried to replace it.

I did replace it with social media, I guess. Over the last couple years I’ve been active on Instagram sharing photos to various curated accounts, one private for people I know IRL and a couple public themed accounts for everyone else. Yet, social media has lately become something of a tangled mess of paywalls and advertising and fake content and frustrations, so I’ve leaned away from that and other platforms in recent months and chosen to put more effort into private website content like this site.

So having added that gallery plugin I’ve been getting some photos into it, deciding how I want it to look and act, and posting some updated collections. It makes me excited to have a place to post more photos again. Stay tuned.

Dog Days of Summer

It’s officially summer here in Edmonton where I live, and the days are marked by a sharp increase in temperatures and an equally sharp decrease in my motivation to move with any sort of speed … yes, even when I’m running!

Also, it’s been a long, dark winter … at least sixteen months if I recall … and this summer seems more welcome than any of us can put into words, I think.

With the arrival of summer, the re-opening of our world (locally at least) following a long, exhausting pandemic, the end of the school year for my daughter, and the wrapping up of a huge project I’ve been involved with at my real job, I’ve been eyeing the arrival of July with no shortage of excitement.

I’ve been writing this blog for nearly six months, every day, and making it a daily exercise has not only resulted in one hundred and seventy plus blog posts since January, but has given me great motivation to go out into the world more openly, explore more deeply, cook and eat more adventurously. Six months is not long, but it has been long enough to kickstart a respectable quantity and tone of articles that I’m (mostly) proud to have online.

Of course I never wrote about how I intended to keep blogging every day, well … forever. Because… to be honest I didn’t intend that. I intended to write daily for as long as I could manage to keep it interesting for myself and for my readers, and (more importantly) for as long as I wasn’t trading the living of my life for the writing about it.

Summer is short and definitely for the living of life, and with all those simultaneous moments approaching with the first of July, I am in the important moment and existential position of asking myself if I’m following that very rule: I don’t want to sacrifice adventure to the publication cycle of a blog.

You may have also noticed that more than a few of my articles lately have been a bit … um … navel-gazing? Bland? Space-filling? I’ll be the first to admit I’ve phoned in a few posts this month. Gak!

So, here’s the thing…

I’ve decided that I’ll be switching over to a summer schedule for July and August.

This summer we have some mountain vacations planned, some technology-free camping trips in the north country to do, weekends at the lake or on the river to enjoy, and a whole of lot of intention to get away from our screens as much as possible. I will still be posting here, probably more regularly than I should, but look for my posts to be a little more scattered over the next two months as of the first of July.

Expect your daily dose of cast iron guy goodness to resume to full daily schedule in September, and with any luck I’ll have a long list of stories to catch you all up on.

Kinda Secret Projects

I haven’t been entirely forthcoming with my friends and family.

In fact, there are very few people who I know in real life who also know that I write in this blog.

Maybe… say… five people.

I have no real good reason for not self-promoting other than that I wasn’t ready yet. Creativity and personal expression, particularly as you get older, is this balancing act between newfound not giving any effs, and realizing that your interests are straying further and further from popular culture and mass market interests. There is also the whole risk equation tied back to personal and professional reputation, but that’s a blog post for another day.

Also, simply, I wanted to get my legs stable under me before I went telling everyone that “hey, look over here… I’ve been writing a blog you should all check out!”

I’ve done that more than once in my life. Posting to the internet for twenty years often means you’ve racked up many projects and over-tapped the good will of friends and family.

I’m not the only one who does this … is doing this kinda-secret-project thing right now … or so I found out.

One of my colleagues, a guy who reports to the same boss as I do, revealed to the team yesterday that his New Year’s resolution made and kept was to start a podcast.

He has posted nearly twenty episodes of a self-produced audio program… in secret… since the start of the year. The link went low-grade viral around the office chatter and I think he multiplied his subscriber rate by insert-coworker-count-here… speaking of, ahem, professional reputation.

I was momentarily tempted to stick my hand up and say “hey, wanna read my blog anyone?” but the moment passed and he was in his moment, and maybe mine will come, too.

Or whatever.

I’m kinda enjoying my kinda secret project for now.

A Blogging Good Anniversary

I occasionally allude to an interesting-to-me fact: I’ve been posting my thoughts online in the form of blogs for a long time.

To give that claim some context, as of today I have been a blogger for twenty years.

That’s right.

On April 20, 2001, twenty years ago to today, I posted my first dispatch post from a hot little apartment in metro Vancouver shortly after moving there for a post-university job.

I don’t want to sour this post in any way with recollections of why I shelved that blog or mourning all the other little temporary websites that lived for a time online before fading into the obscurity of a backup file on my computer. Needless to say, the digital road from there to here has been long, rewarding, introspective, emotional, and likely worn out more than one keyboard.

I’ve been read by lot of people for too many reasons to list.

I’ve been scraped by content farms stealing my words and photos.

I’ve been recognized by media and linked from news articles.

I’ve been hacked.

I’ve been awarded for words, design, and concept.

I’ve been undermined by people I had trusted for things I’d written in good faith.

I’ve told stories.

I’ve had regrets.

I’ve corrected mistakes.

I’ve learned, grown, shared, and opened myself up.

Literally millions of words have appeared online at times, and as many of those words as I have cared to keep are safely archived and privately backed up in safe digital spaces for my personal future reference.

If you have been reading and enjoying this blog, thanks. It is the latest in now-twenty years of efforts to share my words and thoughts and creative soul online. It has been a big part of my life, mostly for good, and always interesting… well, at least for me.

It has been an outlet and an inspiration to step out of a pandemic-based rut (an even more significant thing to say today as my age-group eligibility for a vaccine starts this morning!)

I write and post, and I write therefore I am. And while this blog may still be young and new, for me personally this is a blogging good anniversary worth pausing to blog about.