youtube…”to go, please”

YouTube Live

Image via Wikipedia

Have been having trouble adding YouTube videos into my posts for some time now. Thought it had to do with the fact that I wasn’t a subscriber, and YouTube was “cracking down.” No matter that I continued to do what I’d done before, following WordPress instructions. Something changed it seemed, and no one told me.

Thinking it might make a difference if I was a subscriber, I spent a couple of days recently trying to become one with YouTube. It was like trying to break into Fort Knox! Because I’d started on Google’s blogger.com, I already had an account. But I couldn’t remember my password. It’s been over a year since I went there. I guess YouTube is Google’s, so since the “big G” didn’t let me in, the “big Y” said “Sorry…no trespassers allowed.”

Determined to work at the obnoxious task before me, I kept jumping through the hoops. I even left my laptop, and went into the basement family room, which I dislike because it’s so dark, to see if using the computer where I’d signed up for Google made a difference. In fact, that was one of their prompts. No go. No amount of jumping through the same hoops down there made a difference. So I returned to my laptop, and jumped through one final hoop…and presto! I got lifetime membership into YouTube via Google. Don’t ask me how I did it. I couldn’t repeat it if I tried. And truth be told, I wouldn’t try it again if YouTube offered me a singing contract.

Thinking I now had the problem of inserting videos into my posts solved, I confidently tried to do just that. You guessed it! I still couldn’t get those little movie boxes to cooperate. They just didn’t want to come over to my blog, no matter how I tried to entice them. They didn’t care how well I wrote, at least to my way of thinking, nor did they care about all the great photographs keeping them company. Those YouTube videos just wouldn’t budge…so help me.

Funny how the old saying comes to mind, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I think, perhaps, that it’s not so much the inability to learn new tricks, it’s probably that one needs to empty one’s mind of how the tricks were done in the past. You know “Out with the old; in with the new.” So intent was I on trying to add YouTube videos the old way, I wasn’t really reading their current directions about the new shortcut. I thought I was, but obviously I wasn’t. My brain assumed that the words in front of my eyes, said what they’d said the last time I read them. 

Bench Press illustration

Image via Wikipedia

Guess who got me to read what was in front of my eyes? My roommate…better known as my hubby. It may be that WordPress has become second nature to me, that I think I know everything about it. I know I’m kidding myself, but I like to live the fantasy. So when I ran into this technical “brick wall,” I asked my husband to tinker with the problem. Mind you, he doesn’t know WordPress from a bench press. But clear thinking has always been his forte.

Michael Jackson, cropped from Image:Michael Ja...

Image via Wikipedia

After taking him to a YouTube video of Michael Jackson’s career altering moment when he moonwalked for the first time in public, at the Motown 25th Anniversary celebration on TV, my husband figured out, after some hemming and hawing, that rather than copying the “share” URL for the video, he copied and pasted the URL at the top of the screen. The reason being, he said, and which I confirmed, was that the “share” URL spelled “youtu.be,” instead of the usual “youtube.” That period between the u and the b made all the difference in the world. Lightbulb moment!!!

My husband thinks the “share” URL might bring too much excess verbage with it that WordPress would prefer not to have clogging up its system. Makes sense to me. But as I explained to my daughter, I can mimic what’s being said. I can follow instructions…to some degree. Obviously not always. But I don’t necessarily understand the why-fors, where-fors, and what-fors. Or else I’m too impatient to get started, to get on with it, to check it off my “to-do” list. Thank goodness I’m not the breadwinner in my house.

The glass of water

Image via Wikipedia

…we might be subsisting on bread and water…not a bad thing since we’re always fighting the battle of the middle-age belly…hugmamma.

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wordpress.com, working for me

Having blogged on 2 sites prior to WordPress.com, I find that this site is the most user-friendly. Being technologically challenged, I thought I might have given up before now, frustrated that I wasn’t reaching an audience with whom to share my journey. Two months later, I’m still blogging, and you’re still reading, with many more having joined us. There were moments of doubt, but my passion for writing kept me going, as did several handfuls of viewers who said my words meant something to them. Their sentiments went a long way in “stroking my ego,” something we all need to maintain our motivation, and grow our self-confidence. Thanks to them and now, many more like them, I continue to share life experiences which might help those in need of compassion, validation, consolation, laughs and perhaps, hope. None of us are going it alone; we’re all striving, to live our best lives. I’m not Oprah, but I am one voice trying to make a difference, one person at a time. 

WordPress.com has been an ally in my efforts to share my writing. While I’m not one of the famous bloggers on this site, I still feel my voice is welcome. I’m certain I have far less traffic than the Wall Street Journal’s blog, but I’m grateful for the readership I have. It’s more than I would have imagined. Once I established its  look, purpose, technical details, and alerted friends and family to my blog, I began composing my posts.

Along the way I made new discoveries about WordPress.com, some intentional, others accidental. Since I’m anal about details, I always figured my way in, and around, obstacles. When I succeeded, I cheered my own efforts. When I ran into a “wall,” I turned to my husband for help. His assistance was limited however, because I was more familiar with the inner workings of WordPress.com than he. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d know something more about the computer than my husband. Feels kind of good, except when I’m really stuck. The great thing is that I’ve always been able to resolve a problem by consulting WordPress for Dummies by Lisa Sabin-Wilson, or search through the site’s extended inventory of helpful information, or email the support staff.

When I’m blogging the last thing I want to encounter are technical “hiccups.” On Oprah.com I would lose what I’d written from time to time. Because of this I’d first type my draft on Microsoft Word, then copied and pasted it onto my blog site. WordPress.com automatically saves my writing as I’m typing. I’ve published 124 posts, not having lost one in the process. While comments are encouraged, WordPress.com moderators will hold off publishing ones which might be “spams,” letting me decide whether or not they are. This gives me a sense of security, which was a definite plus on Oprah.com. But while both sites had that in common, over time I felt Oprah.com’s moderators were sometimes too involved in whether or not something was or wasn’t allowed. That aside, I might have remained on the site if it hadn’t morphed away from personal blogs, in its transition to Oprah’s new venture, OWN TV.

Crafting the look of my blog was fun, especially personalizing the header with my own photograph. As I became more comfortable with my new “home,” I found inserting photos and YouTube videos relatively easy, thanks to WordPress.com instructions, and my own dogged determination. Growing readership is always a challenge, but this site also assists by “threading” posts throughout their system, as well as offering various other aids, one of which is “stumbleupon” which has garnered additional readers for which I’m very grateful. Early on I took advantage of a link to “Facebook,” which also quickly bore fruit. While typing away contentedly, WordPress.com continually informs me of further services that can enhance my blog experience.

The one disadvantage to WordPress.com is the inability to sell items. Since I dabble in antiques, collectibles, folk art, and crafts, I might look elsewhere to satisfy my retailing inclination. While this feature is available on Blogger.com, the first site on which I blogged, its “no holds barred” attitude about privacy is somewhat discouraging. I understand it’s going through changes to make it more competitive with other sites, so I’ll keep my eyes and ears open. Meanwhile, I’m happy where I am.

wordpress.com, working for me…hugmamma.

another milestone, “mahalo” (thanks)

Not even 2 months since I began blogging on July 17, views are already at 2014. I owe a sizeable thanks to readers who visited from “stumbleupon.” Feeding my posts to that site garnered more than 300 views in 2 days. That certainly caught me by surprise. Visits have returned to normal, now that the “lookers” have left for “greener pastures.” And so while I appreciate their contribution to the spike in my blog, I’m forever grateful for my constant readers, which now include some “stumbleupon” regulars.

Once I return to my own computer, I plan to once again embellish my posts with favorite photos, and perhaps some other tidbits to spice things up a smidge. But for those of you who have religiously followed me, you know that the heart of my blog will always be my passion for writing. Gimmicks are good, but they’ll never be a mainstay for me. Rather than look for greener pastures, I prefer growing and grooming my own lawn.

A celebratory thanks to you who have remained on the receiving end of my blog. Without you my journey wouldn’t be as much fun. So I raise my sour apple martini in toasting your good taste. ha,ha. Actually, I sip to your continued good health, prosperity, compassion, positive energy and to always living life large…in the moment.  

hugs for readers, friends…hugmamma.

family fun, friends too

Our daughter introduced us to a new game she learned from dance friends, which has become a family favorite, “Bananagrams.” It plays like the game “Scrabble,” without a board.

Tiles are placed face down on the table. Players take the same number of tiles to begin play. For the 3 of us, the number was 21. The tiles are placed face down in front of each person. At the same time, everyone flips the tiles. As they do, they begin creating words connecting them to one another as in crosswords. When a player uses all her tiles, she yells “peel” and everyone must take another tile. As more tiles are taken, players can rework their crosswords to make new words. If a player gets stuck and cannot make a word using a tile, she yells “bruised” and trades that tile for 3 from the pile. The game continues in this fashion until the first player uses all her tiles and yells “Bananagrams!”

Great way to spend an evening with family and friends, learning new words, having lots of laughs. And it doesn’t require the internet, a computer, a cell phone, a Black Berry, or any other fandangled gadget. Just good old-fashioned book-learning! Let’s hear it for the “Good old days!” Hip, hip, hooray!!!

now if I can only beat you know who…hugmamma.

a venetian stranger

Remember the advice you heard growing up “Don’t hitch rides.” and “Don’t talk to strangers.”  Well, I’ve done both. (Read my posts “a ride with strangers” and “attitude adjustment.”) Of course I didn’t “throw caution to the wind” until I was older, much older. Somehow it didn’t occur to me that I’d be taken advantage of; I was plump, graying, and sagging… just a little. Aren’t those weapons enough to keep the crazies at bay? Although these days I’m not so certain. Nonetheless I continue to enjoy speaking with strangers. As for riding with them, it depends on how desperate I am to see my daughter. Hopefully, I won’t need to “test those waters” again. I can’t imagine that a second experience could be more amazing than my first.

During our trip to Venice, I had one of the warmest encounters with a total stranger. Having left St. Mark’s Square after a couple of very informative, very historical tours of St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, we meandered through the small, back streets surrounding the Square. We were in search of a couple of shops recommended by Rick Steves in “Venice 2008.” On the hunt for a gift for one of my daughter’s male dancer friends, I found “…two fascinating mask and costume shops. The Ca’ del Sol… and Atelier Marega…” While I didn’t purchase a mask from either, I did wander through both, “oohs” and “aahs” spewing forth. The only other time I’d seen a proliferation of masks was in American theme parks, like Disneyland and Busch Gardens. And believe me, they’re not the same.

Venetian masks are serious business.  “In the 1700s, when Venice was Europe’s party town, masks were popular–sometimes even mandatory–to preserve the anonymity of nobles doing things forbidden back home. At Carnevalle (the weeks-long mardi Gras leading up to Lent), everyone wore masks. The most popular were based on characters from the Low-brow comedic theater called Commedia dell’Arte. We all know Harlequin (simple, Lone Ranger-type masks), but there were also long-nosed masks for the hypocritical plague doctor, pretty Columina masks, and so on. Masks are made with the simple technique of papier-mache. You make a mold of clay, smear it with Vaseline (to make it easy to remove the finished mask), then create the mask by draping layers of paper and glue atop the clay mold.” Perhaps I should have kept up mask-making when I left kindergarten. Maybe then I wouldn’t be here attempting to eke out a small income from writing. But it’s better I do what I do best, and leave mask-making to those for whom it is obviously a passion. I found such a person in Barbara Lizza.

Being too overwhelmed by the tremendous inventory of beautiful masks in the shops recommended by Steves,  I wandered in and out of smaller ones. The offerings were fewer, but no less gorgeous. Unable to commit, I asked my husband to continue on and scope out more shops, while I tried to make up my mind in the ones at hand. A few minutes later he returned saying there were no others across the small bridge just ahead. Returning to a tiny shop where I’d been earlier, I was pleased to be the only customer. Moving about more easily than before I admired masks resembling story book animals, hanging from the low overhead beams. They were so charming in their pastel shades, a frog, a pig, an alligator, a rooster, among others. Assuring myself they were probably pricey and inappropriate for dancers in their mid-20’s, I pressed on in my search for the right mask. Sitting on a shelf about knee-high, were exquisite eye masks. They were a matte black, with glitter sprinkled thickly around the eye holes and on the leafy extensions that swept upward on either side. Unable to select from ones bearing silver, gold or red glitter, I picked up all 3 and deposited them near the laptop where purchases were made. Hunched over the computer was a pretty, young woman. Straightening herself, we made eye contact and smiled at one another.

Breaking the silence, Miss Lizza took the mask framed in red glitter and placed it to her face, so that her eyes peered at me through the holes. Ripples of laughter bounced off the stucco walls, as we made small talk. I told her that the masks were for my daughter and her friends who were dancers. That elicited a confession that she’d been a ballet dancer for several years. Rushing to a small room off to the side of the main shop, the young woman rifled through packages on a shelf. Finding what she sought, she turned back toward me carrying a plastic bag filled with used pointe shoes. She removed a pair, proudly showing them to me. I joined in her excitement as she spoke of bygone days. Eager to tell me about her days dancing, she struggled to find the correct words. I admired her fortitude for pressing onward.

It seemed Miss Lizza might have pursued a career in dance, but was dissuaded by family. So while she might have been disappointed, she forged a new career in mask-making. From what I saw of her work in the shop, I expressed great pleasure in her obvious talent. As I am wont to do, I rummaged through my handbag  pulling out a picture of my daughter, cut from a tourist booklet printed in the town where she resides and dances. I showed it to Miss Lizza who gasped, exclaiming how beautiful my daughter was and how proud I must be of her. I then explained that there was a video of my daughter dancing on the internet. Miss Lizza quickly bent down typing away on her keyboard, asking me where she could find the video. We had difficulty bringing it up, but she did find my daughter’s name and Facebook page. Asking if it was okay to “friend” her, I consented.

As this young, Venetian, former, ballet dancer attempted to compose a message, I marveled at what was happening. A world away, a stranger was on the verge of making my daughter’s acquaintance, sight unseen. I was becoming emotional so that when Miss Lizza wrote “Your mother is standing here beside me and…” I began to cry and then bawl uncontrollably. I missed my daughter very much and felt her presence in this young woman perhaps 10 years her senior. As she and I hugged, I felt like I was holding my own daughter in my arms. Miss Lizza comforted me, telling me she could sense how sensitive and sympathetic I was. We laughed in spite of my tears, for we were behaving like long-lost relatives unexpectedly meeting in a shop, with people wandering in and out. After several attempts at saying goodbye, I turned towards the door to see a very tall, very broad young man staring at us looking dumbfounded. Miss Lizza announced that he was her boyfriend, explaining to him in Venetian what had happened. Passing him on the way out, I told him he was very lucky to have a beautiful, charming girlfriend.

Venice remains special for me, and I will never forget that young woman who felt like a daughter,… if only for an hour or so.

ciao bella…hugmamma.