What I’ve done since the last time I blogged (last week just before #DigitalFreeSunday) – a long strange trip it’s been

It’s been another hell of a week, but I knew it was coming. So I planned accordingly.

Quite a few things fall by the wayside when my life gets too busy, but the first thing’s blogging.

I’m still writing, of course. Both professionally and privately. I’m working on a project right now that’s a dating book. Not kidding either.

My friend wrote a book, that I helped him on, and it did so well, he’s writing another. It’s a trip, actually. A long strange one.

To be candid, I should be over there working on his stuff right now. Instead I’m here – telling you about my crap week.

After my emo tirade last weekend, in which I created a title with predictive text. now I’m just purposely making weird hashtags in order to maximise the SEO and all that.

See, I purchased a book about becoming an awesome blogger, which I am not.

Most certainly.

Not.

It said to use a lot of #hashtags that my reader could find me.

Tell me, dear reader. Did you find me via #hashtags? Or do we know each other in real life.

The book also said comments are important. I don’t know why comments are so valuable. Is this a dialogue? No, it is not.

I’m a benevolent dictator here at the miscellaneous blog, but I’m not too benevolent.

The right amount of benevolence is what I preach here.

However, the book informs me that comments mean people are engaged with the blog.

Please don’t become too engaged with the blog, though. Please.

Leave your little comments and be on your way. You’re testing my benevolence, by the way.

This online marketing lark has been just that. A long trip going apparently nowhere.

Signifying nothing. A long strange trip, after all.

(This post is dedicated to Phil Leah)

Oversharing about overspending & belt tightening & why Andrea’s question has me writing this to begin with

I’ve been accused of oversharing, but then I always remember my friend who shared a photo of her naughty bits on twitter to make a point. Why do I mention that? Well, I suppose I do say things online that others wouldn’t.

And when I do so, it sometimes makes the people I love cringe. That moment I’m sure they read what I’ve posted and they think to themselves: Why does he have to talk about that? Is nothing sacred? Don’t we have a private sphere anymore?

I heard a podcast earlier this year in which there were parents discussing how much they shared of their children’s lives online. What kind of photos were acceptable and essentially where each parent’s parameters lay, which made me glad I didn’t have to concern myself with such things.

I’ve got enough trouble worrying about my own online presence without having to try figuring out someone else’s. Teaching a young person how to navigate the web? Gives me night sweats just thinking about it. Uggh…

So, here goes.

Andrea (aGirlfromMontrose), who’s a friend from high school you’re going to hear me talking about more, because I love her blog, asked me a question.

I promised her an answer in blog form, so here goes.

Oh, another thing before I forget: I’ve resolved to use this site more as a tool for a few things.

Recently, WordPress asked me if I wanted to keep up with the blogging lark. Well, actually they were more crafty, which I respect. They said: Your site’s being renewed. You needn’t do anything. We’ve got it taken care of.

But being the overthinking sod that I am, I considered just pulling the plug on the whole damned thing. Starting from scratch with something more conventional.

Lahikmajoe is a terrible name for a brand. It regularly baffles people when they first see it. How’s it even pronounced? Where does it come from? Why should I read something or follow links to such a site?

So there’s that…

Let me go back to the story with Andrea, though. It’s a narrative that’s easily followed.

She saw me jet off to Kraków and take the train to Venice a few weeks later. Then I was in Spain on the Camino showing my mother my favourite spots in northern Spain, as well as exploring Madrid for the first time.

There was Easter in a big Ferienhaus (a group of us rented a whole house) up in the Austrian Alps and photos of Asians taking photos of each other (& of my dogs #EllaandLouis) while we spent a day in Hallstadt.

There was essentially some sort of trip every few weeks, and when we finally ended up on holiday in Italy this summer, Andrea had had enough.

In comments on some post, she demanded: What do you do exactly? How can you afford all this travel? I want that life. What do I need to do to get to motor round like that and see all that stuff?

Well, here comes the oversharing:

I can’t. There’s been too much outflow and not enough income. I’ve overspent on travel this year, and now it’s time to do some belt tightening and get back to fiscal basics.

The funny thing is, though, I’ve got it under control, because while my freelance work often dries up in summer, it turns out autumn is regularly quite busy.

There’ll be a period around Christmas until Epiphany, when I can’t work anyway, so I’m already planning a trip stateside. I’ve not been to Vermont since college, when a couple of Deadheads and I drove from Albany to Burlington on a whim, but there might be Yuletide in the Northeast Kingdom (a place whose name I’ve always thought was rather magical). Then if things go as planned New Year’s in New Orleans and time with my people in coastal Texas.

That bastard Hurricane Harvey, who devastated the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana last week, has made me uncharacteristically homesick, which is a feeling I nearly never experience, so pardon me if this blog becomes a bit Texas-flavoured in the coming weeks.

I promised Andrea a blogpost explaining what I do, so here it is. I overshare. I tell people online what online marketers insist you shouldn’t. I tell my readers too much and it’s both cathartic and a little daft.

Because I’ve thrown in for another year on WordPress, I’m going to get my money’s worth. I’m going to use my blog the way I used to do my teablog:

People who drink tea used to read my blog about the brown liqueur, the leafy goodness. The drink that fuels my adventures since I gave up on John Barleycorn years ago. Yet the astounding thing was how many people who didn’t even drink tea told me they loved my blog.

Just the writing. Whether they even drank it or not. Some regular readers even insisted they couldn’t stand the stuff (I never trusted those people — just seems suspect to me). For now on, there’s going to be regular content hereabouts, but this time with an editorial calendar and a better eye on my audience. Most importantly there’s also going to be a goal.

I want this place to be where people come for something whimsical. A bit of the ridiculous in an otherwise serious and grown up life. Again, that’s why even non tea drinkers read my earlier site. It was certainly about tea, but barely.

Some days it was about what was pissing me off, but most of the time it was my inspiration. Whatever caught my fancy. Whatever bliss I was tapping into, as Joseph Campbell was talking about.

The thing that made me want to leap out of bed in the morning? The thing that made me want to do it again and again? I want more of that in my life. I’m assuming you do too.

On a side note, I quit watching or reading the news while in Spain. American news, in particular, just had me anxious. I realised that the more attention I gave Trump and the whole “he said she said” nonsense of the two party system over there, the more irritable I was getting.

Walking along the trail on the Camino de Santiago in the Rioja region of Spain, I reminded myself:

None of that really matters in my day to day life. I take voting seriously, and I’ll do my civic duty when it’s time to do so.

But watch another debate like we seemed to all be doing in 2016? Life’s too short for that shit. There’s too much living going on around, as I hear Lyle Lovett’s voice singing in my memory.

Be good to one another, will you? I’m trying.

Curating for @I_amGermany and reminded why I used to enjoy twitter

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-09-39-07

Quite a week here in Munich. The Oktoberfest is waiting impatiently at the gates like heathen hordes. The skeptical and easily spooked locals are sure terrible things are going to happen at this year’s Biggest Beer Festival in the World.

All the while, I’ve been curating the @I_amGermany account over on twitter. I don’t talk much about this platform here on my blog for quite a few reasons, but the biggest is this:

The people on twitter already get it. Those who aren’t there can be weird about it and often react to its being mentioned with bafflement. However, they have clearly seen twitter mentioned as a source in the media.

It’s the folk who’ve set up an account over there, taken twitter for a test drive and found it a big disappointment…with these people? It’s been best to avoid the topic entirely. I’d try to compare them to former smokers being the biggest anti-cigarette crusaders, but I’m not prepared to wade into that one.

If you’re one of my readers in the last category, you might want to come back for the next post. Not that I’m going to go on about twitter necessarily. Well, not more than I already have.

However, the week I’ve had over at @I_amGermany has been so enjoyable that I felt I had to make some mention of it. If you’re so inclined, go take a gander. Oh, you want a link? Go here: https://twitter.com/I_amGermany

Here’s what a guy in Berlin wrote after his experience doing it a few years back: http://www.uberlin.co.uk/tweeting-for-germany-what-i-learned/ He describes some things I can undoubtedly relate to.

Why did I used to enjoy twitter, though, and what has this week reminded me of? It’s more than just the immediacy of it, but that’s a great advantage. In this case, I’ve connected with seemingly limitless people here in Germany, or who are somehow interested in Germany, and I’m skeptical we’d ever have *met* otherwise.

I’ve rattled on elsewhere about the meaningfulness of meeting such people virtually, so I won’t go there again…not now at least. Might dig back into that soon.

In the meantime, there’s the little local beer festival I mentioned above. The heathen hordes I mentioned are ever closer. The smell of their breath enters my nostrils and I can sense it’s going to be an eventful few weeks.

My beautiful heathen

 

drinking tea with My Beautiful Heathen

 

Nearly as long as I’ve been blogging, I’ve been trying to avoid talking too much about twitter. For one thing, it’s incredibly boring if you’re not already there. So many people with whom I interact in my daily life ridicule the medium, and I gave up long ago any hope of changing their minds.

I did have a blog before twitter and like many blogs, it simply died on the vine. I had some decent content there about living abroad and whatnot. Curiosities and my personal take on anything that struck my fancy – the blog was read by very few people and I suppose that’s the nature of many people’s first forays into blogging.

Then there were a few years where I primarily blogged about tea. When people hear that, they often give me an incredulous look and ask if that’s even a thing. Indeed, it is. There’s quite an active community of tea bloggers the world over, and because of the above-mentioned writing, I know a good number of them, albeit virtually.

Tea people didn’t read my tea blog for information on tea. As a matter of fact, my writing very rarely provided any useful information on the subject. I was specifically writing to the non tea drinkers to attempt to lure them over to the leaf. And my unorthodox approach to tea blogging didn’t hurt me in that community either. There were plenty of informative blogs about how long to steep your tea; I was offering something entirely different.

Because of the stereotype of little old ladies drinking their afternoon tea, there was a rather whimsical moment in which a fellow tea blogger struck upon the idea to aggregate the musings primarily of us more masculine tea lovers. Without consulting us, he created a page called the Beasts of Brewdom. It still exists if you insist on going and looking for it. You might even find some of my long lost posts over there.

Oh, look. I found a link: Beasts of Brewdom

Recently, I was asked to contribute something and here I’ve finally gotten round to it. It was a writing challenge, which I didn’t entirely understand, but my challenge came in the form of a tweet. Here it is if you’d like to see the original:

The offending tweet

If you couldn’t bother to click through, it said, ‘…ohh Beasts! I challenge @lahikmajoe to write with ‘My Beautiful Heathen‘.

Well, if you know anything about heathens, you know they shouldn’t consume too much caffeine. My tea cabinet is almost devoid of any herb tea, but this is one of the only exceptions.

Hamburger Schietwetter Tee…for an ugly rainy day. A perfect opportunity to stay indoors with just such a cuppa.

There. Challenge accepted and fulfilled. For those of you who might be confused by this blogpost, I’ll be returning to the regularly scheduled Miscellaneous Blog in the next several days.

the best red dogs on the planet turn eight today!

IMG_3267
doing what they love most…Ella and Louis will definitely spar like this at some point on their birthday

On 13 January 2005 the best red dogs on the planet were born. I went into detail about all this last year at the same time, but I just wanted to share this photo. If I let myself, I’d blog about their love and what an honour it is to take care of them on a daily basis.

My heart doubles in size when I see Ella and Louis playing. These dogs have quite simply been the single most reliable thing over the last several years.

Am thrilled that photos of them bring joy to so many people I know only from the internet. I’ve been using the hashtag #EllaandLouis for a while over at twitter if you’d like a sampling of the joy they bring. Have at it.

starting and ending in the front room on the Tottenham Riviera

sometimes you gotta pack up all your stuff

The trip to London is like a huge chunk of molten ore from which I’ll be mining blogposts for a long time to come. Were I to show you my itinerary, you’d be astounded at how much I packed into such a short trip. Big ups to @elaine4queen for meditation-related help and conversations of the highest order.

I got some business taken care of, and there’s big news on that front when it’s more concrete. Don’t count chickens before they’re scratched, or whatever. And I met Robert Godden, who’s also known as The Devotea in teablogging circles. That was an event. To say the least. Here’s a document of that auspicious occasion:

Whatchyou talkin’ ’bout Robert?

If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Robert either online or in person, you know that he’s passionate and just the other side of sane. It’s one of the myriad of reasons we get along. I also met the infamous Lady Devotea, but was sworn to not publish the photos I took of her. Perhaps once she sees the way I respectfully portrayed her gent, she’ll relent. But until then, I must respect her wishes.

Then, I was introduced to Bloom Tea, which I’ve already mentioned over on the teablog, but bears repeating here. They have five different blends for different times of the day. It’s a clever way to sell tea, so I’m sure I’ll be talking more about this brand in the near future. Here’s a photo of the sample I was given:

the five phases of Bloom Tea

The mornings in London were exactly like they are back here in Germany for me. I get up relatively early, so I can plan my day properly. It means that when others get out of bed, I’ve already been at it for several hours. It’s all rather disconcerting if you think about it. Because I know my level of energy can be a bit off-putting, I attempt to tone it down as best I can – with varying results.

afternoon tea with some of my favourite people who I’d not previously met

Finally, I’d like to share one of the best photos of last weekend. It’s got some wonderful characters in it, innit? I’ll not bother listing them all, although I should at least make a passing reference to a certain Vic Darkwood, who you’ll see on the far right of the shot. Purportedly, he’s an artist of some renown.

I’m just glad to say we now know each other on twitter. I hope when he gains international fame and glory, that he remembers us little people.

Like I’ve said, I’m sure this isn’t my last London-themed blogpost. There’s tonnes more to tell.