Stress-Induced Total Immobility Syndrome: Too Much SITS, not enough getting ‘er done (till now).

Here’s one of my church chums giving the sermon today, in a badass ensemble consisting of a prayer stole or preaching stole and a fine Cubs T-shirt. We’re still in Summer Casual mode at Holy Moly.

When I’m under pressure and feeling overwhelmed, I SITS around a lot watching TV, goofing around on Twitter, and sending texts and postcards to random Congresspeople and government departement secretaries. Yesterday, I was up against a hard time limit and solved a technical issue with one of my website/blogs that’s been frustrating me for months.

So, finally, I went back to church at Holy Moly for the first time since JUNE. I had to, today was the first day the choir was supposed to be “back in black,” hence my self-imposed hard time limit. The church website absolutely had to show updates, or I’d have to deal with more questions as to why outdated posts about EASTER were still visible on the static main page.

My conscience is now clear. You can see the result of much needless agita at St Nicholas Episcopal Church.

Still some cosmetic tweaks needed, but the timely content is front and center, and it’s easy to update. Now for figuring out the easiest way for a couple of more people to have update access. The biggest hurdle is cleared at last.

My extended absence each week kept getting longer and longer, because aside from not being able to figure out a frustrating technical issue with the church website (which is now licked), I had gotten much too slack and comfortable about Sunday morning sleep-ins.

It started out just being “the choir is off for the summer” but it turned into many more things left undone than I could cope with, and I didn’t want to show up until I figured them out.

However, late last night I finally implemented some dang useful tools for administering the Holy Moly website. They are the same tools that I was playing around with here at Blogula Rasa that greatly simplify and streamline the task of writing, publishing, and sharing a blog post to social media.

The problem starts with my own lack of confidence, exacerbated by a tendency to self-distract and hare off into an expending state of spin. If I had to get something done, I needed to get three or four other things done first that “weren’t working right” or bugging me. And those things would generate more and more things that frustrated or stymied me.

Since I have this blog, and a couple of other personal blogs, and the church website/blog to administer, if something stops working on one site, it has to be dealt with at the other sites, which all have different themes and back-end plugins and style sheets to cope with.

Add to that, a disinclination to spend much time at my “home computer” desk, which is a bit of a cobbled-together arrangement that’s not all that comfortable. I used to spend hours and hours online, chatting or fooling around with a 3D design program (which is fiendishly frustrating in itself). But more than a year ago, I stopped going online, and started spending more time discussing the bizarre events of the American presidential election on Twitter and Facebook. I kind of dropped a lot of balls with my online social contacts.

And add to THAT, complete frustration with trying to update my two most important blog/websites on a small mini iPad rather than wrestling with an older laptop that’s badly in need of updating. I use WordPress, and the web interface on the iPAd in Safari is hard to work with, with a maddening tendency to throw a “server not responding, lost connection” error that is related to the wireless keyboard I use. I’d find myself spending an HOUR just trying to write, annotate, and SAVE (save, save, save) a draft. Forget trying to publish, that took at least 5 or 10 tries and required turning off the wireless keyboard and pressing the Publish button for JUST the right amount of time. Sometimes I’d start updating and give up, furious. The desktop was uncomfortable, the laptop unworkable, the iPad a complete torture.

Frankly, it was easier to just post something on Twitter, rather than make my self crazy trying to write anything longer than 140 characters.

Meanwhile, all the blogs used a variety of plugins that were supposed to automate the task of reposting content to various Facebook pages and Twitter. It worked for a long time, and then gradually, some plugins stopped working, other plugins announced they were ceasing to be supported. Don’t even get me started on how Google stopped developing Picasa, that was the backbone of my large collection of seasonally appropriate images for the church website, that also semi automated sending photos to the church Facebook page and Flickr.

I stayed away from church because I got tired of explaining to people why the church website wasn’t getting updated each week; one of my church chums is a solid rock of dependability who sends nicely formatted Constant Comment newsletters every Tuesday without fail; all I have to do is copy/paste some essays, news items, and stock images, and aside from the back-end plugins not working, the church website at least could be a snap. Except that I kept putting off wrestling with it, for months.

For a while I relied on IFTTT recipes to deal with reposting at Facebook (the church likes FB’s ability to show events, photos, etc.) and also reposting to Twitter. But that was cumbersome. I couldn’t face my chums (or Father Manny), so I stayed away.

Then, at Blogula Rasa, I stumbled on to a whole suite of plugins called Jetpack, that everyone else in WordPress-land has been using forever.

One plugin replaced four or five (or more ) other plugins, and solved their weird conflicts and interdependencies. It even simplified how stuff is displayed on the side column (though I’m still using a creaky old method for “sideblogging” that requires me to use the horrible Safari web inteface).

Jetpack made it simple to link multiple blogs to the clean interface at WordPress.com, and also to the vastly improved (and beautifully un-distracting) editor for the WordPress for iOS app. Either way, I write a post that can be saved as a draft, and published, with NO crazymaking “lost connection, failed to save” errors. I deleted all the outdated, superfuous plugins, surrendered to the iOS app, and suddenly, it’s easy and pleasurable to write again. All the little extra doodads and widgets that I had, have Jetpack versions that are powerful, configurable, and a snap.

Once I started implementing and updating at the church website, I had one set of somewhat tedious tasks that I had been procrastinating on.

Even though “recent posts” showed up as links in the Holy Moly sidebar, the folks at church wanted to see news and upcoming events as posts on the main page, which is static. I hadn’t used “sticky” posts, I had been messing with adding excerpts by hand (and it was a pain). I looked at “under the hood” solutions that I didn’t understand, and then found one more plugin for pulling in content that is highly recommended, implemented on more than 50,000 sites, and recently updated.

Now, I have 3 different categories visible as slick sliding menus; I could make them look like a grid, or nested, or whatever. But any post I create in those 3 categories will appear on the main page of the Holy Moly site. As long as I add a featured image, they display nicely without resorting to the macro-keys I used for adding my beloved (but horribly dated) drop shadows. This is another reason I was using the horrible Safari browser interface for blogging, because it had access to my customized editor.

I went to church this morning with a clear conscience, knowing that the front page of the church website has updated content about upcoming events. Never mind about all the stuff I never got around to posting for events over the summer.

As my church chum Bill’s sermon covered forgiving a sinner up to 77 times, I figure I was stuck on 76rpm…right up until I found the way to simplify my process and just get ‘er done. The sensation of not spinning or flailing is wonderful.

No longer immobilized by stress, there’s the matter of my online social and technical obligations to tackle, and a rather big birthday coming up next week. And a new chair for my uncomfortable desk. And more bike riding. And…

Well, that’s enough to go on with for now.

Emmy Awards: Jeffrey Wright @jfreewright deserves to win. #Westworld

Absolutely, hands down, Jeffrey Wright deserves the Emmy for best supporting actor. Will he get it?

Deserves to win: Jeffrey Wright
Critics love him on “Westworld” — he has a magnetic screen presence and the ability to deliver a big twist.

Link: Emmy Awards 2017 predictions: Who will win, who deserves to win and who could surprise us all – The Washington Post

Tweetdeck May Save My Sanity

Spent past 2 days manually excluding retweets, to cut down on duplicate posts. Tweetdeck can do it with one click in a column. Wish I had tried it FIRST.

One of our favorite Twitter clients is so good that Twitter itself bought it in 2011. With real-time scrolling, advanced filtering options, and a host of useful features, TweetDeck is the obvious choice for anyone who wants to take Twitter seriously. Here’s how to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.

Source: TweetDeck Tips and Tricks To Master All Things Twitter

Years ago – I mean 7 or 8 years ago now, when I first signed on to Twitter and started playing around with it, I tried out various Twitter clients. This was pre-iPhone, the gateway drug of my current Internetcontin addiction. Tweetdeck was clearly the best on the desktop, and I set up columns based on topic, had multiple accounts handy, et cetera.

Then I started using the iPhone and a mini-iPad to access the internet, almost exclusively. I rarely sit down at my desktop anymore, because my desk isn’t very ergonomic and I came to dislike spending more than a few minutes of required maintenance sitting at my desk. I spend enough time at my work desk in my home office (which is pretty ergo).

I forgot about Tweetdeck, but on a whim looked it up and wham! Remembered that Twitter actually bought it a while back and it’s now accessed as a sub domain from their main site:

http://tweetdeck.twitter.com

It came up on the iPhone, but it’s not that useful on a small screen. On an iPad, it’s pretty decent and it remembered my settings from the last time I used it on my desktop machine. All was familiar, and thanks to the old article I linked, I discovered the powerful filters and settings for reducing the amount of chaff.

WHY DID I FORGET THEE, O TWEETDECK?

Now I’ve got retweets excluded on several columns – not just people I already follow, but on everyone using any hashtag I choose. I need to add one or two newer single-topic accounts that I’ve never used with Tweetdeck; now I can set them up to filter things down to a reasonable volume, too. Also, there’s the ability to schedule tweets, plus the ability to monitor lists, hashtags, and DMs alongside the main timeline. No constant popping back and forth.

This may save my sanity. I spent so much time lately trying to keep up with events, I felt compelled to try to muscle down the volume by brute force. I was up until 3 am last night doing it the hard way, and when I finally did get to sleep, I had two nightmares (very unusual).

Thank you, Tweetdeck. This will help me get a handle on all things Twitter.

Liberal Christian Ponders Stuff

I haven’t been to church in weeks. Months. This is unusual, because I like going to church, singing, seeing people.

My reasons are very trivial: I am responsible for the church website and it needs to be updated, but to do that I need to sit at my desk rather than recline on the couch or in bed. And I don’t want to dig into my photos, revamp stuff, and create a tutorial for how to update the church website for interested persons who don’t know anything about WordPress. At least, not right now. And I don’t want to be pounced on for not updating the website.

I barely know anything about WordPress, because it’s updated and changed a lot over the years, but lately I’ve been changing things around here, as practice for the changes I need to do over —–> there at the church site. We’re only talking about a few hours’ work, but I just… can’t make myself.

I’m feeling conflicted about the responsibility, and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I need to do just to get ready to revamp things. So instead of working on the church blog on my desktop, I’m dipping a toe in the waters by blogging about things in my particular flavor of mainstream liberal Christianity, the Episcopal Church.

Yes, I’m one of those psalm-singing, Anglican chant-intoning, choral Eucharist types. As a liberal church, we’re barely recognized as Christian by some strains of evangelical Christianity (or we’re seen as a diabolical corruption, but hey, we welcome everybody, so there).

Before diving in I was listening to a podcast on Stitcher (which, annnoyingly, does not provide embed codes).

The first segment really goes into depth on a lot of things, but even if you’re not interested in religion or going to church, you may be interested to know that a specific kind of evangelicals would love to take political power, and think Trump is their nearly-unwitting entree into making America over into their vision of a nation literally under God (meaning, some form of theocracy).

The first segment is about why they embrace Trump as the anointed of God. Unfortunately for them Trump is pretty clueless about religion, because it isn’t about him. Listen here: Stitcher Podcast: With Friends Like These hosted by Anamarie Cox “One God, Under Trump:

After that, the first link is the story of a historic Episcopal congregation with a branding problem: back in the early 1800’s it was called Grace Church, which happens to conform to the “naming convention” of Episcopal churches; they are named after a theological concept, or a saint, or a “feast day.” Episcopal Churches aren’t typically named for people, or places, or everyday concepts.

This particular church’s branding problem is that it’s called Robert E. Lee Memorial Church, because it’s the church where the Southern leader worshipped, confessed himself a sinner, and is buried. Now, it’s a problem for the parishioners in much the same way townspeople have a problem with a Confederate statue – is it merely historic, or does it send a message that people of color had better not cross the threshold? They’re struggling with it, and it’s likely to split the community. The local bishop doesn’t see the problem: just go back to the old name, Grace. Which would imply healing, and forgiveness – but he’s not really local and doesn’t understand the subtleties.

Virginia congregation deeply divided over church’s name honoring Robert E. Lee: [Episcopal News Service] Was Robert E. Lee an American hero or a traitorous defender of slavery? The Confederate general has been called both in the ongoing debate over whether statues, monuments and plaques in his honor should be remain on display in public places, from parks to churches. – by David Paulsen – Tags: episcopal – EDN: Virginia congregation deeply divided over church’s name

The next one is positive – instead of “why I don’t go to church?” It’s “why I go to church.” My reasons for not going will soon be outweighed by the impending start of choir season; I’ll have to update the site, make a start on the tutorial, and show up at choir practice this week. Or next week. 😉 Aside from the music, I like being part of a community. Believing is tempered by reason – science has a place in my faith. The miracles don’t matter as much as the material: be kind, be compassionate, be hopeful.

Reasons to go to church: Marilyn McEntyre writes about why she goes to church: There are lots of stories of why people don’t go to church but she offers some reasons to take another look. Excerpts A healthy church will give you access to a treasury of words and music. – by Ann Fontaine – Tags: episcopal – https://www.episcopalcafe.com/reasons-to-go-to-church/>Episcopal Cafe: Reasons To Go To Church

This last one is interesting to me because I’ve attended a small Episcopal parish (more than one) that’s struggled to do the work with just a few people. Not as few as this one, but something amazing happened to them when they opened their doors to refugees. It’s the tale of what happens AFTER a split – based on the time period, it was probably over the ordination of a gay bishop and the acknowledgment that a LOT of the clergy in the church were (and are) gay. It’s that welcoming thing again. This little church found a way to welcome that completely changed them (which was hard and painful) but transformative in a good way.

‘All Saints’ movie details how refugees saved struggling Episcopal church: [Episcopal News Service] After a split over theology in the 1990s, there were only 12 members of the congregation left at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee, a suburb south of Nashville. The church couldn’t pay its mortgage. By 2007, the church was in danger of closing. – by Amy Sowder – Tags: episcopal – All Saints movie: how refugees saved struggling Episcopal church

That’s it –

A Couple Of Wrong Uns 

Holy shit. Meanwhile, the gumflapper in the White House remains useless.

Kim Jong Un – wrong and bad
Donald J Trump – wrong, bad, and completely out of his depth. They’re both “wrong ‘uns.”

TOKYO — North Korea launched a ballistic missile Tuesday morning that flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, public broadcaster NHK reported. The government issued an alert for residents in some prefectures to take cover.

Source: North Korean missile flies over Japan, escalating tensions and prompting an angry response from Tokyo  – The Washington Post

Priest who left KKK still hasn’t made restitution for cross-burnings

Remember the family victimized when the local KKK burned a cross on their lawn, but they won a lawsuit? President Reagan dropped by to visit them.

Funny thing, they never did collect on the settlement. The leader of the local KKK disappeared.

Many years later, he turned up as a Catholic priest, and NO ONE wants to talk about him. Not his diocese, not his former diocese, not current and former parishioners, no one. The Washington Post did find a few people willing to talk about him, like old schoolmates who were shocked by his transformation from racist skinhead to priest.

He still had some anger issues, though. He seemed to work through them by protesting at abortion clinics, and by “teaching history.”

But hey, forgiveness is freely offered, right?

Last week, some parishioners were struggling to reconcile the priest they knew with his violent past and failure over decades to make amends to his victims, actions the diocese has now offered to broker and says Aitcheson is willing to do.

Maybe the Church needs to stop protecting racists. It looks a little too much like when they move pedohiles around and protect them, too.

Source: Priest who left KKK is testing parishioners’ ideas about redemption – The Washington Post

Trump Org Was Negotiating For Moscow Tower During Candidacy – Sater

If this had gone through last summer, would it have been a deal breaker for the Trumpist base?

Probably not. Make Moscow Great Again!

Nevertheless, the details of the deal, which have not previously been disclosed, provide evidence that Trump’s business was actively pursuing significant commercial interests in Russia at the same time he was campaigning to be president — and in a position to determine U.S.-Russia relations. The new details from the emails, which are scheduled to be turned over to congressional investigators soon, also point to the likelihood of additional contacts between Russia-connected individuals and Trump associates during his presidential bid.

White House officials declined to comment for this report.

Source: Trump’s business sought deal on a Trump Tower in Moscow while he ran for president – The Washington Post

How To President, Part 2 – Visit A Vandalized Golf Course? Not Unless He Owns It

Resident Drumpf may see this item in the Washington Post, but it’s unlikely as his news reading is “curated” for him so that he sees stories that are positive (and mostly about him).

However, since it’s on a golf course, he may feel moved, but it’s not as if it happened at one of his own golf properties, is it?

Source: Swastika found carved into green at Minnesota golf course – The Washington Post