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blogging, Photography

Travel photo

Su at zimmerbitch invited Ju Lyn to join her and other bloggers to post one favourite travel picture a day for ten days without explanation and also to nominate someone else to participate. Ju Lyn kindly nominated me on her post.

And in turn, I will nominate a blogger but there is no obligation with this. Another blogger may have already nominated Drake, but I commend to you his blog, if you have not visited. It is worthy of a travel photographic visit.

Drake and I have “followed” each other for some years now, perhaps too many to mention.

remote scandinavia

I usually do not nominate another blogger in these challenges and with Christmas looming I may not make the required ten days, but for now I have met the requirements which makes me happy!

Have fun and join in too?

Mental Health, Motivational

Free to Change Ourselves

An ever so slight adaptation of a quote from William James.

When things are grim for Christmas in your part of the world, it may help to ponder an old Norwegian saying: “behind those those dark clouds, the sky is always blue”. The old Norwegians did not have an easy life through the long, harsh, unforgiving winter. One group of settlers died out, literally starving to death in Greenland, but even so they balanced their negative thinking with such a positive saying.

In olden times, a negative attitude may not have been conducive to a successful community. They may have had to put emotions on the back burner and concentrate on sourcing or rationing meager food supplies. Life priorities were vastly different and yet, all that time these old people were fostering self-reliance and resilience to adversity.

We can learn much from their attitude if we are open to it.

What do you think? Is action correlated with our level of happiness?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Norwegian hytte at Christmas in Telemark
blogging

Christmas Hygge Challenge

Over at the Cove, Cyranny has thrown out a Christmas challenge.

As Friendly Friday is in recess till the end of January, time permits my joining this fun challenge. As it is now the 15th January, I mean December, (thanks Sandy), I have some catching up to do. Here is 15 days of postings.

Crafting time and a fun way to recycle paint strips into a personalised Christmas card.

If you wish to try out this DIY, the Christmas trees don’t have to be shades of green; red; pink; purple and grey paint strips would look great with a coloured or white card.

Christmas craft
Day 2 : Christmas Crafts
Day 3: Not my all time favourite Christmas song, but it is up there and suits our tropical Christmas weather
  • Denmark
  • shopping art
  • singapore
  • kristina ohlsson book review
  • Dancing at Christmas time in Skansen museum, stockholm
  • lights

Here is the list from Cyranny’s cove for the Hygge Challenge

I have to admit I am stumped for Day 7: holiday movies. It is not a tradition here to watch television at Christmas or to watch a particular movie or show. Australian traditions are all outdoorsy things – hey, it is summer here at Christmas!

Think barbeques, pool parties, trips to the beach, so who has time for movies?

But everyone has times for gifts at Chrsitmas.

candle gifts

Join in with the Christmas challenge and get in the festive spirit at Cyranny’s Cove.

blogging, History & Traditions, Mental Health, Motivational

Sunday Sayings – Emotionally-Driven Thoughts

We spend a lot of time in our own headspace, either at work or at home relaxing. In lockdown, some of us might be alone with our emotional thoughts, much more than we have ever experienced before.

This level of introspection, or mulling over problems, can get to a person, especially if they are a deep thinker or highly sensitive.

Concentration, Energy and Motivation

The extent to which we are occupied by our emotional-driven thoughts is often the extent to which energy is diverted away from our working memory, our concentration and motivation. We find it hard to concentrate on our work when we have something on our mind. The monkey mind, it is often called.

bewellplace.com

Caught Up in Our Emotions

We talk about being caught up in our emotions and it can feel like being trapped inside your own head. At these times, it is hard to re-focus on matters at hand. Our worry or frustration centres switch on and at times, go into, ‘overdrive.’

But those thoughts in our worry centre, are not reality-based thoughts. They are magnified, exagerrated, skewed or biased. We are so much more than those thoughts. Thoughts are not who a person is. Yet we give them power over our moods.

Just like a loud noise that bothers us, trying hard to block it out, will inevitably make the noise appear louder. This is because our focus on the noise has increased. We might even become angry and frustrated.

If we can’t remove the offending noise, we must decrease our focus in order to tolerate the annoying noise, or the many frustrations of our lives. If our attention is diverted away from focusing on the noise or the frustrations, we tend not to notice it and its persistence wanes.

Practising Mindful Strategies to Prevent Worry

Similarly, we can re-focus our attention away from the abyss of introspection, by practising ‘Mindfulness‘ techniques, which are designed to assist us in staying within the present moment. The only time we can act and live is right now, in the present moment. Everything else, the past and the future is only a construct of our minds, so focus on the here-and-now.

The Glennon Doyle and Buddha quotes may have been at odds, but one might assume their objectives were the same.

What do you think of this Sunday’s quotes?

Australia, blogging

How is Australia like Europe?

Often time in comments with other bloggers, we compare our lives in various parts of the world. People approaching retirement seek a lifestyle change. Country folks who have farmed all their lives will often move to the city whilst city dwellers move to the beach or a quiet country areas.

In selecting where we live and thinking about lifestyle benefits, can we really compare our lives given that our demographics are vastly different?

The acutely different rates of population density compared to land area in different countries, is startling and naturally, has far-reaching implications. Nevermore so in the management of social issues, chosen location and perhaps, even more importantly, also in the management of the Covid pandemic.

Consider the differences between a large city in Europe/UK, Australia and India.

Is it useful to compare apples with apples? ie. Two large centres. Let’s pick Shanghai and New York. What does that reveal?

There’s more space in China, but population density remains the same.

Let us also look at a smaller European city compared to the largest city in Australia. Population density appears the same as London, Delhi and New York.

Comparison Copenhagen and Sydney by area and population

comparecities.org/en/compare/

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Urban Living

Australia has been touted as the land of wide, open spaces. Is that always an advantage?

  • Distances between centres necessitates a heavy reliance on petroleum-based transport options which exacerbates climate change.
  • Urban sprawl impinges on animal habitat resulting in loss of species diversity and extinction.
  • Decentralisation strategies struggle to keep up with population growth. In cities with slowing population growth, an ageing population has economic ramifications for future properity.
  • Large cities offer a range of facilities and services, and more choice of products and resources, but can be as socially isolating.
  • Traffic is a nightmare and commutes are long and time-consuming.
  • Mental Health and Social services are exponentially in demand.
  • Rural Areas have poor access to services, eg. specialist medical and ancillary
  • Communication is more difficult in country areas – at least in Australia.

Given the world as it is today, where would you rather live?

A small, dense city, country area or a large metropolis?

Me, I am pretty content here at the Home by the Sea.

seachange
Home by the Sea
schnauzer dog in pupsnaps bed
blogging

Has the World Gone Entirely Crazy?

As if Covid isn’t enough to contend with, have you ever had one of those days when nothing seems to go as it should? Where it seems the forces of the Universe are set against anything going smoothly? Yes, it was one of those.

Things happened.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Chaos Rules or Life by Crisis Management

  • A friend I haven’t spoken to for over a year sends a message, out of the blue, with only the words, “How are you?” There was no other context to her message and yes it was her – I did check. A little odd or, perhaps, spontaneous. She was just wondering how I was, she said. After a year with out communication!
  • My daughter rings to make an appointment at a medical specialist doctor and the Receptionist asks her to supply a full length photo for a the appointment. Weird. Full length?
  • Three out of three kids then had mini breakdowns of sorts on the same night, unrelated to each other, sending us scampering from one to the next in succession. It was a busy night.
  • That same night the neighbour sent me a message at 7pm that he wants to come sit on my garden bench for a while. Did he have a fight with his partner, I wonder? This is out of character. I only saw the message at 9pm whilst scampering to and fro to said kids.
Schnauzer dog

Finally late on the same day as ALL of the above:

We discovered the new pup had eaten the TV remote control, yes, the plastic controller part. The Moth’s favourite activity is to watch television and you can imagine what the Moth said when it became apparent he could not change the channels or adjust the volume. Not to mention the possible harm to the puppy, which resulted in my daughter having to check the poo for remnants of plastic when she walked the dog around our estate, for the next few days.

Not so strange, I suppose, but given that we live in an area where there are lots of tradie workmen building new homes, you have to imagine the strident scene of strange stares and comments when they see a pretty young teen, now adult, picking up dog poo on the footpath, then examining it closely, feeling it and squishing it around in her hands, (inside the doggy poo bag of course)!

It seems she has a penchant for chewing anything. Here’s more evidence of her dental disasters.

And the final piece of news – we have “worms.”

Not in our bodies thank goodness; we’ve merely purchased a batch of garden-variety, soil-improving worms and installed them in their new home at the Home by the Sea.

At least the worms aren’t having a personal crisis or feeling chocked up with plastic remote controls.

“There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.”

– Richard Bach
#WQWWC
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blogging

Removing Ads on Free WordPress Blogs

Those pesky ads that show in the body, and the end, of a WordPress Post; do they annoy you? As a reader, would you prefer not to see them? I am vacillating between paying to remove them and leaving them as they are.

business workplace
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

So I think it is time to ask the Blogger Brains Trust, all of you clever people in the blogosphere:

Should I pay to remove ADs shown on my blog posts?

To help me in my decision, I would love you to answer the below poll.

Ad Content for Blogs

Worth remembering is that we, as bloggers can not control the content of the ads according to WordPress, particularly if we have a free plan. Interestingly, WordPress hands this important decision over to their advertising software:

We screen the ads we display for mature or illegal content. Sometimes, however, you or visitors to your site might still see ads you object to — for example, ads for political causes or products you oppose. We do not endorse the content of any ad, and we encourage you to inform your audience that ads are not selected by site owners, but rather generated by our advertising software.

https://wordpress.com/support/no-ads/

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rosemaling fabric
History & Traditions, Photography

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Red and Green

Origins of the Traditional Christmas Colours of Red and Green

In many parts of Europe during the middle ages, Paradise plays were performed, often on Christmas Eve. They told Bible stories to people who couldn’t read. The ‘Paradise Tree’ in the garden of eden in the play was normally a pine tree with red apples tied to it.

whychristmas.com/customs/colors-of-christmas.shtml

Final Photo Prompt for 2020

For the final Friendly Friday Photo Challenge of 2020, show us your version of photos of Red and Green.

Join the Friendly Friday Challenge

Write a post of your own celebrating ‘Red and Green,’ and ‘ping’ or link back to this post, leaving a comment below, so we can find your own Friendly Friday Post.

There are more detailed instructions on how to join in with the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge here.

These photos are taken in Japan in 2019, during the Crimson leaves season. The final two photographs are taken with #No filter.

The Friendly Friday Challenge team will be enjoying a well earned break, from weekly Friendly Friday posts, over the festive period. The challenge will resume in the New Year on Friday 29th January, 2021.

Friendly Friday

Friendly Friday Challenge in 2021

Your Friendly Friday Hosts Sandy and myself, (Amanda) will post a new format for Friendly Friday, going forward in 2021. One that we hope will encourage and support those wonderful bloggers who have been posting Friendly Friday posts throughout this, a most difficult year for the world. Of course, we also welcome new participants to the challenge.

All are welcome to join in.

God Jul til Alle Sammen and Merry Christmas

Christmas tree
blogging

A Double Tragedy hits the British People

I was saddened to read of the tragic death of Prince Harry. The young Prince and Father killed in a horse-riding accident in the early hours of this morning. Only hours after the news of the Prince’s death broke, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, choked on a cucumber sandwich and couldn’t be revived when ambulances arrived at his home. The world is in shock.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

Then again, I could be making the whole thing up, couldn’t I?

Would you believe it?

It is so easy to post misleading information. A few twitter or facebook posts and a monster takes form, spreading like wildlfire across social media.

Apparently:

  • Taylor Swift has been declared dead in news reports, three times, but remains alive and well.
  • Some people stridently believe Paul McCartney died in 1966 and all appearances by him since, are mere look-a-like impersonators designed to keep the lie going. Confirmation for them is a song, by John Lennon and George Harrison which, when played backwards says, ‘Paul is dead, miss him, miss him, miss him.’

These examples are ludicrous, but is evidence that many folks will BELIEVE certain things about ANY subject.

Can we be certain just where our information comes from and whether it is grounded in fact or hearsay?

Person 1: Why are we still in lockdown? The Corona virus is nothing more than a cold.

Person 2: People don’t generally die from a cold. We must keep the borders closed.

We all have different opinions and perspectives and that makes for vigorous discussions around the world; discussions that sometimes affects our relationships. That is no less true for topics such as Climate Change and Corona.

Do you think about where your information is coming from?

Is it verified by authentic sources? What do you consider an authentic source?

A scholarly article backed up by studies? Anecdotal evidence? A blog post?

Photo by Life of Wu on Pexels.com

Confirmation Bias and the Dunning Kruger Effect

Is our upbringing, values, political persuasion or faith blocking our understanding? Are we only seeking out information that supports what we already think? This is known as Confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias is even more pronounced in a world where we can use our social media to filter out information we don’t want to absorb and where we follow influencers who reinforce our existing beliefs.

Rebecca Huntley

We all struggle with something outside of our experience level, says J. Marshal Shepherd, an American Meteorologist. Because of this, scepticism and individual biases can block our understanding and skew our opinions.

Rebecca Huntley states that focus group participants, with no scientific training or credentials, will pick apart facts and figures regarding climate science. This is referred to as the Dunning-Kruger bias.

This human tendency for people to think they know more than they actually do, as well as underestimate what they don’t know, is called the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Cognitive Dissonance

Once people encounter a viewpoint that is at odds with what they perceive to be true, they experience discomfort, or cognitive dissonance.

Rebecca explains that when this occurs:

They then try to resolve their discomfort by arguing away the new evidence until it’s consistent with their own beliefs.

rebecca Huntely

Inadvertantly they reinforce the skewed perspectives.

Is Your View the only One?

So next time you read or hear a report:

Question the accuracy of the information and be aware of what it is that might be shaping our views and perceptions, (or misperceptions), about science and the world?

Ask Yourself What News Sources You Rely on?

Photo by Joshua Miranda on Pexels.com

Check Your Bias?

  • Take an inventory of your own bias
  • Read broadly
  • Evaluate your sources
  • Share this information with others

More about determining misinformation here.

blogging logo
blogging

Having Trouble Using the New Editor?

I have had many blogger friends comment that they are having issues with adding images or aligning images with the new block editor.

blogging
Photo by Andrea Davis on Pexels.com

I’ve been using the WordPress Block Editor since it was offered as the Gutenberg trial a year or so ago. Now I can honestly say I cannot remember how I ever used the old Classic version. In fact, I had much more trouble with images that were not in alignment using the Classic editor, than I do with the new version.

There are some changes, but there also are some great features I have not tried before.

For example, I really enjoyed using the new image compare block which I featured in a recent post.

I also like the new options for adding galleries, slideshows and the increased flexibility with media and text options. The best part of all is the ability to move blocks up and down. I do this all the time when writing a blog post.

Is it just me that does this?

Adding an Image to a WordPress Blog Post

Add an image to your post using the + button to add a new block, select image, then choose whether you wish to upload a new image by:

  • Selecting a photo from your own media library
  • Uploading a new photo from your computer
  • Selecting a photo from Google photos
  • Selecting a random photo from Pexels free stock photos (see above)
  • Copying a URL for an image found at another site (right-click on the photo to grab the “copy image location” on the photograph and press CTRL V or paste that URL into the prompt box provided on your post and click enter.

N.B. In sharing from Google photos you may need to check your privacy settings in Google photos or the image may not appear correctly.

Re-sizing or Adjusting Images for WordPress Blog Posts

A useful tip for new bloggers is to resize your photos to an optimum size for uploading.

There are many types of resizing tools on the net; I use a re-sizing app on my Android phone as most of my pics are taken with the mobile these days. Imgur is another useful tool for blogs if you are looking to add GIFs or internet memes.

I have found 800 x 600 px is a good size to aim for. Detailed pictures are awesome to see in high quality, however, they take too long to load. Slow loading of photos and therefore your site, is something that may turn readers off. This is especially true, if your site is photo heavy, as photography/travel blogs tend to be.

water fountain lights
This photo is approximately 800 x 600

I also adjust images on the sidebar on the right. There is a drop-down under ‘Block.’ You can choose a default normal presentation for your photo, or a rounded corner view, and set the size or enter certain image dimensions. You will even find some advanced settings such as AMP for viewing on mobile devices.

Who doesn’t use their phone to read blogs?

Do you have a favorite re-sizing tool that you use?

Add a Featured Image in a WordPress Blog Post

Adding a featured image in the “Post” settings on the sidebar, of your draft post, gives your blog a professional look and secondly, gives a visual indication of what the post might be about to the person reading your blog. It can grab the attention of new readers who are skimming through the WordPress reader and you can secure a new follower, if that is your aim?

The featured image should have a size of at least 1200 by 675 pixels or you will have a blank white section around the photo in the header. (NB. This is theme dependent).

Using the Columns block in WordPress

Anne mentioned she had trouble using the columns block.

I haven’t used this much, but always lamented that a free WordPress blog plan did not offer columns.

Columns might be especially good for posting recipes if you are a food blogger.

There is quite a choice of size presentations once you select the columns block. This one I am using here is 70/30 [text versus image].

And don’t forget to add your favorite blocks to the

re-useable blocks for fast access. It is quite handy.

How do you find the new WordPress editor?

I’d love to hear how long it took you to adjust to the new editor, or if you are still struggling, what it is that you dislike about it? Let me know in a comment below.

Are you tearing your hair out?

Do you find the Blocks Editor easier to use?

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beach at low tide
blogging, Philosophy

Is Life Getting Harder?

If we only look at things through one filter, one lens, they will always seem the same.

seeing

Never forget that no matter what anyone does, you are responsible for how you feel.

The brain is a powerful filter that moulds experiences and perceptions of reality. If you think the world is a dangerous place, your brain is wired to hunt for evidence of danger. 

If you believe it’s a loving place, you spot more loving opportunities. 

What you focus on, you get more of.

Marc and Angel
Norwegian proverb life

I enjoy finding inspirational old quotes and sayings. Their wise words so succinctly contain good counsel and recipes for life, if we are open to learning from them.

Livet er fullt av store ting for dem som evner a omgas de sma ting fortrolig

Life is full of great things for those who have the innate ability to enjoy the small.

Norwegian proverb

Do you agree with these old Norwegian proverbs?