Tag Archives: Writing

Thoughts About WordPress Reader

Update: 2015 Nov 28 The points made in the original post below no longer apply. WordPress changed Reader again.


by Melanie and Jim

Do you use the WordPress Reader to keep track of your followed blogs? We do. Lately, there have been numerous ‘enhancements’ to Reader. In general, the Reader is going to a one-size-fits-all approach in order to fit content into the small mobile screened world.

Changes in recent weeks were not announced. They simply showed up for us to learn. Some of it has been confusing and illogical. We’ve been quite busy and might have missed the rollout announcement. Was there one? What follows are a few of our reactions to those changes.

Random Reader Views

We were both confused by the views presented by Reader when we clicked on a blog post. It seemed there were two possibilities. For some blogs the click went to a barebones view of the post, with white background and text and pictures. All of the widgets (sidebar information and links), related posts, tabs, and other formatting were removed, as well. Some other posts in Reader went directly with a single click to the actual blog set up by the writer showing the theme with the look-and-feel they had worked to present.

Here is an example, showing the difference between the view directly accessed from Reader, and what is seen as designed by the blogger. If I click on this (within Reader)

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 7.27.02 AM

it takes me to this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 7.28.29 AM

See how it is all white space? The actual blog looks like this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 7.28.46 AM

There is nothing obvious at all about how to get from the white-space view to the blog. It was especially confusing because for some blogs, clicking from Reader would go directly to the blog, skipping the white-space version. Why were some treated differently than others? It appeared random.

As it turns out, another click on the post’s title (not the blog name — that doesn’t help!) in that barebones white view took you to the actual blog. Yes, there were links that would take you to their blog in one click. We didn’t notice them at first.

Eventually, we found a clue. Check out these two screen shots of one of our recent blog posts as presented in Reader. Notice one is slightly different in the red oval. Why is that?



By clicking the title or body text of the first one, Reader presented the simple white-space view and did not actually go to the blog. By clicking the title or body text of the second one, Reader presented the actual blog post showing the theme.

Speaking of Theme

Why put a lot of effort into selecting a theme so it looks the way you want? Why make the effort of adding tabs or sidebars with more information? Was Reader bypassing those efforts of many bloggers with the simple white layout? Why do that?

Changing Your Settings 

As noted above, if in Reader your blog shows “Visit [your blog] for the full post” clicks will go directly to the blog. This action is controlled in Settings on your wp-admin page. Choose Settings —> Reading. Then select Summary view in order to have Reader direct to your blog without the black on white view. Remember to Save Changes.


The Reader App

We have not found a way to view and read the actual blog site using the Reader app on iPad. Maybe someone knows how to do that. For us, it always presents a simple text on white view. No themes show for us.



Ruminations on personal writing

by Melanie in IA

You know how I write, partly to make sense of things? You know how I reveal a fair amount, but fairly quietly? Sometimes I don’t want to do that. Sometimes I want to be really forthright, loud, say it out loud. Sometimes I’m tired of censoring and being restrained and editing my words so someone unseen won’t take them wrong. Usually that unseen person either a) won’t read them at all or b) doesn’t matter at all. Why censor myself for them?

Why not just say exactly what I think, how I think it? Why not explain exactly what happened, about ANYTHING, and how I feel about it? Why not name names? Why not burn bridges? Why worry what anyone else thinks?

I wish I could go all out like that. I think I would be a better writer if I learned to be more bold. If I felt comfortable like that. But I don’t trust enough, ironically. Trust only goes so far.

Seeing clearly/grief or suffering

by Melanie

This spring I’m taking a writing class called “Writing Our Spiritual Lives.” I’m not a religious person, and my spirituality is based on connection — how we are connected as humans, and how we are connected to our environment. Still, as a writer, there’s value in a class that pushes me to think more deeply about this, and that helps provide insight into others’ thinking.

During class we have two short writing exercises. The instructor provides prompts, and off we go, writing as much nonsense or sense as we can in the short time allotted.

Last night’s first prompt was to write about seeing clearly. With only five minutes to frame the prompt, compose a theme, and write, it’s pretty rough stuff. Here’s my take, cleaned up a little but not revised.

It crystallized in those moments, the hate or disdain. I’d had it all wrong. I’d thought of him as an ally. He was not.

“There will be a train wreck,” he warned. It was a train wreck of his own making. His wish to control me, my husband, overwhelmed anything that made sense.

We’d pushed at each other some over the months, but I thought I’d gained his respect. He added me as an editor, congratulated me on my milestone. I thought he was glad to have me around.

Do you remember the old show from the 1960s with Chuck Connors? “Branded.” It was about an Army officer in the Old West who was deemed a coward. Stripped of his epaulets and brass buttons, sabre broken in two, he was sent from the fort with great ceremony, his reputation in tatters.

No ceremony here, but thanks to my enemy — no ally he — I was branded, unceremoniously kicked to the curb. No mystery remained about our relationship. He is my enemy, a man who does not deserve my respect.

The second exercise allowed about fifteen minutes to write. The prompt was to write about grief or suffering.

Pushing my eyes open, the darkness doesn’t change. Enveloping me, painting the room, darkness. I stretch slightly, easing the muscles of my lower back, noticing my toes as they brush the nubby sheet above them. Thick as the darkness is the silence.

No birds sing at this hour. Of course the barred owls could call any time of day. But they are absent, and I note their silence again.

Blinking, the room brightens for me. I can see the contrast between ceiling and wall. I note the soft green glow of the night light in the bathroom. But the silence persists.

I should know the difference by now. Cold silence sounds different from warm. While I know that now, while I am here with you, I do not know it in those waking moments. It is always cold silence, and empty, and alone.

My mind turns to welcoming the girls, calling our son, arranging for music, for a eulogy. I think of how to announce this. Odd how the quiet turns my mind to the noises of comfort. Daughter’s soothing voice, smooth and velvety; Son, stoic, never wordy. I see Jim’s face overlaid on his. I hear Jim’s laughter when he laughs.

The music, blues guitar, some of the favorites. Griz will play, as Jim played most evenings for several years. Only Griz will play better.

I hear the condolences through the silence, including from those who love us and those who have hurt us.

And blinking again, I can see the light beginning to peek through curtain edges. I shift again a little. The warm silence breaks. Jim stretches and turns. My grief, objective as it was, ends. And we reach for each other under the sheets.