Blog Tag: When I’m not doing SEO

Kim Krause Berg tagged me for the meme “When I’m not doing SEO…” which was started by Shimon Sandler a few days ago.

What I like most is looking at the way connections are made, online and off. For the last few years my offline life has been shrinking, but if I get really quiet and squint just right I can still see signs of life separate from the online connectivity of “SEO.”

I Cook

Slow cooking is a good way to anchor a long day. I like to start a batch of something in the morning and baby it off and on throughout the day, as I work my way through a project connected with my online life. Winter favorites are home made soup, yeast bread or a turkey. I like multi-day projects that can be frozen in meal-sized portions. One recent experiment was a four cheese manicotti with spinach and toasted walnuts – yummy, though a bit of a pain to stuff without splitting, so next time it will be cannelloni or lasagna roll-ups.

I am a Sci Fi Couch Potato

I’ve probably seen every episode of every Star Trek related thang at least five times, and though I have a rotten memory for real people’s names I am a sponge for sci fi trivia. Did you know Carol Burnett was in an early 1960’s episode of The Twilight Zone, long before she was famous? Or that the father of Next Generation’s Q was a serious oboist? For some reason I do!

Other Stuff

I do a little bird watching, and a little knitting and sewing. I garden, which involves a fair amount of negotiating with deer. I walk. I read, browse art and photography, and draw. I love learning, researching and inventing.

For “When I’m Not Doing SEO”, I tag:

Miriam Ellis-Loraditch
Yuri Filimonov
Lee Messenger

The Rules

1) Say who tagged you, and link to them.
2) Tag 3 other bloggers.

Pole Dancing, or Cheesecake?

How’s that for (link) bait? ;-)

In honor of something a little goofy that I said over at Cre8asite Forums about writing ideas, I’m offering an upgrade from pie. Here’s a 100% original, made-up-by-yours-truly-in-a-past-life recipe for a cheesecake that has been served in ritzy restaurants.

Where’s the pole, you ask? I’ll leave that up to your imagination. Seriously, though, if a SEO/M conference after-party can have pole dancing… hey, what’s a little cream cheese, and sugar, and rum in a blog post?

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cheesecake filling:
2 lb cream cheese, room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice and cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons dark Meyers rum, optional

5 eggs
About 16oz well-drained pumpkin puree – a 15 ounce can (1 3/4 cups) is fine

For crust and garnish:
crushed gingersnaps
toasted pecans or hazelnuts
whipped cream

Optional topping:
1 1/2 cups sour cream mixed with 2 Tablespoons sugar

Butter a 10″ spring form pan. Dust with crushed gingersnap cookies. I you like, press a 1/4″ layer of crushed gingersnaps and toasted hazelnuts or pecans into the bottom of the pan. Leave dry or moisten with a little melted butter, and bake just long enough to set and color.

Combine dry ingredients with cream cheese. Do not whip. Incorporating air will encourage cracking and make a less creamy cheesecake. Add flavorings, then slowly add eggs one at a time. Stir in pumpkin puree.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for between 60 and 85 minutes. Time to bake will depend on how cold your ingredients are. To test, gently giggle the pan. The center should wiggle, but have lost that jello-like quiver. The surface should be dry.

If a sour cream topping is your thing, remove the baked cheesecake from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before spreading on the topping, then return to the hot oven for another ten minutes. I like to skip the sour cream, in favor of the wanton festivity of whipped cream.

To minimize cracking, move a baked cheesecake directly from the oven to the refrigerator.

Refrigerate at least 12 hours before removing from the pan.
Serves about 16

Enjoy! My favorite way to present this is with a little drizzle of rum on one side of the plate and a healthy “wallop’ of unsweetened whipped cream on the other. Complete the effect by connecting the two sides with a trail of crushed, toasted pecans, or of gingersnaps if they are good.

Variation: Sweet Potato Cheesecake

Cheesecake filling:
Add about a Tablespoon of orange zest
Replace rum with bourbon
Replace pumpkin puree with an equal amount of cooked, mashed garnet yams.
Omit allspice, cloves and nutmeg
Add 1/2 tsp each ginger and cardamom

For crust and garnish:
Dust pan with ground, toasted pecans.

Nice with a graham cracker crust that is about half pecans, or with a pecan-studded sugar cookie crust. Use any shortbread cookie recipe, with half the usual amount of sugar and butter, adding as much chopped, toasted pecans as you like.

Prepare and serve as for pumpkin cheesecake. If you’re feeling extra decadent, drizzle a little bourbon on top of the hot cheesecake as you pull it out of the oven. If you’re feeling extra extra decadent, go for a little too much vanilla bean ice cream instead of that wallop of whipped cream. Also nice is a plate-side garnish of bourbon-spiked orange marmalade.

Happy Holidays!

Plugging Plugins

I am a plugin junkie. Here are a few that I like to install right after setting up WordPress.


The quinessential WordPress comment spam stopper, Akismet is part of a WP base install. In addition to installing Akismet, go to Options > Discussion and decide how much control you want over comments.
By Matt Mullenweg.
Go to Plugins > Akismet Configuration to enter your free API Key.

Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not. You need a API key to use it. You can review the spam it catches under “Comments.” To show off your Akismet stats just put in your template.

Google XML Sitemaps

Never say never to Google. Make sure to enable Update Notification, especially “Modify or create robots.txt file in blog root which contains the sitemap location.”
Configuration Page By Arne Brachhold.
Configuration is at Options > XML Sitemap

This plugin will generate a compatible sitemap of your WordPress blog which is supported by, Google, MSN Search and YAHOO.

Subscribe To Comments

Very handy! I seldom appreciate signing myself up for a mailing list as much as I appreciate getting notice of an ongoing conversation in a blog. Blog comments have become an important part of online community-building. Subscribers can manage their own subscriptions. If you use this, be sure to add a line to your privacy policy or comment policy about how you use any collected email addresses.
By Mark Jaquith.
Configure at Options > Subscribe to Comments
Manage subscriptions at Manage > Subscriptions

Allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry. Based on version 1 from Scriptygoddess.

Top Level Categories

I use this because I like stripping off layers, and WordPress likes to make available lots of lists or how posts might be grouped. If I wanted a table of contents for categories, I’d put it in sidebar navigation or a sitemap.

By Filipe Fortes.
No configuration needed, simply activate.

Removes the prefix from the URL for a category. For instance, if your old category link was /category/catname it will now be /catname.

Ultimate Google Analytics

Sure, you can just paste your tracking code to the footer.php file. Why not let Google Analytics do a little more?
By Wilfred van der Deijl.
Configure at Options > Ultimate GA.

Enable Google Analytics on your blog. Has options to also track external links, mailto links and links to downloads on your own site. Check for version updates.

WordPress Database Backup

You need this, because accidents and disasters happen and it’s not nice to be without a backup. Database backups can be created on demand or automatically.
By Austin Matzko.
Configure at Manage > Backup

On-demand backup of your WordPress database. Navigate to Manage → Backup to get started.

All in One SEO Pack

Do you need it? Maybe, maybe not. Do you want to play with it? Come on, of course you do.
Let the plugin fill in the blanks for you, or choose specific titles, keywords and descriptions for each page and post, or do a little of each.

By uberdose.
Configure at Options > All in One SEO.

Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog.

cforms II

Cforms is fun to use. Use it to create multiple forms with distinct purposes. Includes help files, examples, and way more configuration alternatives than you’ll probably need for any one form.
By Oliver Seidel.
Configuration and more at the CformsII tab.

cforms II offers unparalleled flexibility in deploying contact forms across your blog. Features include: comprehensive SPAM protection, Ajax support, Backup & Restore, Multi-Recipients, Role Manager support, Database tracking and many more.

Sweetness Endures Like Iron

One of the coolest things I learned in school is that the iron in our blood comes from stardust scattered by supernovas. The pressure from something that massive is how stellar nucleosynthesis creates iron from lighter elements. When a massive star goes boom the dust scatters and drifts, and some of it, still iron, becomes part of you and me.

Look up at the sky and see whatever you see – mystery or science, astronomy or astrology, fate or history – and you also experience some of the connections and distances between all people. A thousand years ago someone looked up at the North Star and thought of their friend, lover or ancestor also seeing that same star. I can know nothing about that person and still share a natural bond.

The really big forces of human nature are like that. We can have metamorphosis and explosive stress, childhood and maturity, and still find ourselves with some same basic properties that may have always been there.

All Grown Up and Still Here

I thought about the stars when my daughter called last week. She’s 20 and on her own. She’d found a new incarnation of a years-closed bakery that I used to take her to when she was a tiny little toddler person, and left a message for me while munching on a cinnamon roll, remembering.

Her call took me back to when her eye level was just barely up to a table top. I was a single mom, always on the lookout for hands-on, low-cost experiences to share with an active kiddo, and active she was. As an infant, the first time she managed to roll from her back to tummy to back again she looked up at me with a grand thrill of power, knowing she’d achieved locomotion. A few days later she was rolling down the hall and around the corner like a little race car. She was doing back flips off of my lap before she was walking independently. This was a child who did everything in a big way, from giggling with delight within moments of birth to the biggest “no!” any li’l honeybee babe ever gave her mommy.

I took her to that bakery a lot because they had some pretty good open mic, back in the day, and I was always on the lookout for ways to help her see life, “live.” We took picnic breakfasts up lifeguard chairs at dawn, went to concerts at the zoo, and ran around on the beach a LOT. At the bakery, the cinnamon rolls were big enough to share and the atmosphere was open – there was room for a child to dance. She loved it.

When my daughter called last week she thought I would appreciate knowing that the bakery had joined forces with a book store. Books are a big thing in my family. What hit me most deeply was that she remembered (sensed?) some of what her mom was like when she was a very small child, as if remembering a common language. Amazing. Heartwarming. Almost like looking at stars and feeling connected with an ancestor. A little like hearing that long lost cousins have led parallel lives that each would appreciate.

Here’s to shared experience.

Thanksgiving, Nerd Style

A little of that feeling comes up for me when I google. Seriously. If you’ve ever searched for some common term and wondered if the search engine’s snippets are providing a good user experience, you’re there in the room with me.

And then there are the forums. Cre8asite has become part of my home, full of people who are natural to remember on holidays, though I’m about as likely to meet most of them as I am to journey to Cassiopeia. On the other hand, there is a feeling of community that gets into the blood, or may be it always was there, like iron and stardust.

I hope you and yours had a good Thanksgiving. Look up at the stars for me some night and think of snippets, and snips and snails and puppydog tails, and ancestors.

A New Look

I finally got my site out of tables and into WordPress.

I started with Bruce Gardner’s Blue Zinfandel Squared Enhanced theme, because I am learning WordPress and I like his detailed approach to CSS. I’ve found that working with other people’s code is a good way to learn, and both Blue Zinfandel Enhanced and Blue Zinfandel Enhanced have a layout structure I like, plus lots of thoughtful details to play with.

Sometimes, half way into the process, I’ll decide that the original theme author’s sense of organization is hard to work with. That’s when the real restructuring starts. In this case, under the skin, much of what I left is almost exactly like the original author’s. My biggest structural change was to swap out the #wrap div to help me make the header area go full width, while the rest of the page stays at a fixed width. Just for fun, to the center area and the footer I used a border radius that will make rounded corners in FireFox. In case you’re interested, here’s an example of the radius CSS:

#wrap {border-radius: 10px; -moz-border-radius: 10px;}

And that’s all she wrote. Fun stuff, huh? One line of code, no cutting up little circles of the inner and outer color, and presto zappo you get curvies.

These curves won’t show in some browsers, and without curves the design looks a little too plain for my taste. Adding a 1px light gray border helps to add a little definition. I may add a background gradient or an image for shading, but what’s there seems fine to me for now.

Other changes so far have been to add a background color, some image-based bullets, and switch some fonts. In the future I will be experimenting with blockquotes, the date image, and doing more with the comment box styling, and I want to adjust spacing around some of the text elements. In the meantime, what I have already is fine.

Presto zappo and “Hello World,” we got theme.

Hat tip – if you haven’t seen Bruce Gardner’s Revolution Theme, check it out. Smooth!