Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What is a good length for a blog post?

I have been reading a lot of blog posts lately. One thing I notice is that I go into skimming mode when someone gets too wordy. When I look at my own posts, they meet the criteria for too wordy.

I know a preacher whose sermons are too long. He says he doesn't pay attention to length. How long a sermon lasts is simply how long it lasts. I use the same philosophy for my blog posts. I write until I've said what I want to say. That usually ends up being enough to fill a full page in a word processor. Just as my preacher friend ends up with too many words for his listeners to absorb, I end up with too many words for people to read.

Maybe I need to think in smaller chunks, corral the loose thoughts, trim out the fat.

New goal: for today, for this one post, I will not create a scroll bar in my posting window.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

You can tell a lot about a person ...

I have heard multiple times over the years that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their checkbook. These days I would guess that for those under 30 you can mainly tell from their checkbook that they are under 30 and don't write checks. Maybe that goes up to 40. Actually, I am 53 and don't write many checks. You'll have to look at my Quicken files to find the information that used to show up in my checkbook.

Rather than my checkbook, what you really want to see is my blog feeds to find out what I'm like. I might even be finding things out about myself. I just deleted a couple of blog feeds. Too much doctrine, too long, too frequent, not enough personal observations. The benefit per word just wasn't there. I also added a couple of new ones -- chatty blogs by young adult Christians observing life. I actually read several posts from one and then closed the window in which it was open before realizing I would like to see more from that writer. I tried to follow the path back from current subscriptions to the new candidate and couldn't remember how I got there even moments after making the first trip. I had to look at my browser history to get back to it. I think the original path included a random post from a blog collective, a profile for the writer of that post linking to another blog with comments linking to the third. Or something like that.

The blogosphere has been particularly active and interlinked lately with reaction to a new book by megachurch pastor Rob Bell -- Love Wins. Much of the reaction is negative. (The book's current #1 ranking on Amazon on the subject of faith and #4 ranking overall would support the maxim that there is no such thing as negative publicity.) The comments and comments on comments and links to other comments are good for weaving one's way through the jungle of blog entries. Those who respond with thoughtfulness, grace, and good humor to the negative comments catch my interest. I'm interested to read not only what they write but also what they read.

I haven't ordered the book yet. I will probably read it eventually but have no sense of urgency. I may even wait until I can borrow it from a library rather than making the choice to own it. After all, do I want such a controversial book in my personal collection? What if someone judges me by the books I read?

Okay, that last part was a joke. Anyone looking for evidence on my bookshelves that I might appreciate the writing (and preaching) of Rob Bell wouldn't have to look far. Although I don't see any of his books in my line of view at the moment, the half dozen books by his friend Brian McLaren might be a clue. I may have given away the only Rob Bell book I have purchased and not bothered to replace it. Along those lines, my reasons for not buying the book have more to do with concern that it might not contain enough groundbreaking material to earn a permanent spot on my shelves than fear of what others might think to see it there.

I see from recent posts and responses that a few of my Facebook friends consider Rob Bell a heretic. This is one of the reasons I don't feed my blog into Facebook. Back in the old days, I didn't publish my checkbook register for all to see. These days, I publish thoughts such as these in public places such as this but try not to wave them under the noses of those who see them as evidence that I'm straying from the faith. Fortunately, my profile is low enough that not many of those trying to rid the church of all Rob Bell influences will bother including me in their sweep.

Friday, March 04, 2011

She's plenty able to do what she WANTS to do!

So I'm lying around pampering my body with its closed-up incision and doing only what I either feel like doing or want done enough to do it. And I keep hearing an echo in my mind of the words in my title. There is definitely a huge "want to" factor weighed in to my choice of activities.

What I'm finding is that I have little tolerance for stress and unpleasant tasks. And it doesn't take much activity at all one day to put me off my feet the next. If I force myself to take on unpleasant tasks, I end up quickly exhausted. But I'm sure it looks selfish and inconsiderate from an outsider's point of view.

Scene #1
"Are you interested in going to Walmart to pick up some groceries?"

"No," I reply in a weak voice, "that would be way too big an outing. I'll just stay here on the couch and focus on getting well."

Scene #2
"The sun is out. Would you like to go walking?"

"Sure! Let me get my pillow and walking stick and shoes and socks and I'll be right with you. I'm thinking I can do two miles this time out."

Obviously, I'm able to walk. Why is it so refreshing and healing to walk two miles on our country roads but exhausting to ride to Walmart and walk through the aisles there? Why did I go back to church twelve days after surgery and enjoy two hours there but a couple of days later walk away from less than an hour back in my work environment with less physical activity completely exhausted?

There's a lot more than physical stuff going on here. Fortunately, the words in my title are only echoes in my mind. Less than three weeks after surgery, people aren't applying pressure for me to make their priorities mine. It's just interesting to notice how much the "want to" affects the "able to."

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Listening to my body

Yesterday was two weeks after surgery to remove my kidney. I have been wearing a pedometer constantly other than the two days in the hospital when I didn't have a waistband on which to mount it. And I've been doing a lot of walking. Walking is refreshing, particularly when soft spring breezes start to blow.

Monday I walked 5,800 steps, some inside the house while doing very light housecleaning, others outside, strolling along at my slow post-operative shuffle. It was a good day.

Yesterday, I also walked 5,800 steps. But it was a very different day. I made an outing in a vehicle. It was a short outing. I was never more than two miles from home and wasn't gone much over an hour. The two stops along my route mainly involved pick up and delivery. I declined to be involved in a third stop which was a social gathering. Too much, too soon. I could see that. What I didn't anticipate is that when I said no to the social gathering and mentioned my plans for the day, it would prompt a couple of people from the social gathering to meet me at one of my destinations. Oops. Now I was dealing with well-wishers while upright rather than while sacked out on the couch at home. And for some reason, that didn't work out well. It wasn't according to my plan. I hadn't signed up for that level of interaction in that setting. Plus, the pick up and delivery involved more load than I anticipated. I had to deal with two eccentric door locks I didn't expect to find locked. And, okay, I drove two miles to my destination and the two miles back home. Which wasn't bad in and of itself, but was definitely an extra challenge. Together, those things added up to more energy expended than I expected. Then I took a walk with a companion and ended up walking faster than I would have on my own.

Now it's Wednesday afternoon. I have logged 350 steps today. I'll likely do more before the day is over, but, obviously, I have barely moved for the past eight hours (actually the last 18 hours). And I'm just now to the point where moving seems like a reasonable thing to consider.

Such small things. Locked doors. A pile of mail. A slightly faster pace while walking than the day before. Social interaction that tapped my energy while away from home in an unanticipated manner. A heavy car door to open and shut multiple times. I don't think it's so much that I overestimated my energy level as having so little reserve for unexpected drains. Thankfully, all activity is optional for today so I don't have to push.