Postcard from 38,000 Feet Above the Sea of Labrador – January Blog Wrap

Newfoundland Coast from 38,000 feet

I’m writing this monthly blog round-up on an early afternoon trans-Atlantic flight from Munich bound for Toronto, and find myself distracted by the massive sheets of broken ice on the fringes of the Sea of Labrador that gradually transform into the frozen landscape of the northeasternmost reaches of Newfoundland.

We’re about 250 miles north of Goose Bay. From 38,000 feet, it’s serenely beautiful, but even that vast distance can’t fully conceal the landscape’s unforgiving nature. It’s barren and icy. I can feel the cold with my eyes. A shiver snakes its way up my spine.

But it’s still inviting. I want to be down there, forging a path through that desolate -50 degree setting. It’s a ludicrous notion of course –I’ll never convince the pilot to land our 777-300ER on the frozen river that worms its way towards the horizon. And I don’t have the right shoes.

But I am plotting a way, making mental notes for a trip there, or some place very similar, somewhere in the not-so-distant future. It’s part of what I call my traveler’s high, one fed by an insatiable urge to go, wander and explore. It’s a jolt strong enough to wake me from my post-nap daze and set my mind in motion and the wheels spinning on this look back at the what transpired –the nitty and gritty— on Piran Café in January 2014.

Highs and lows

January provided some of the highest highs and lowest lows since I begin dabbling with the blogosphere at the tail end of 2006. The latter?

What was to be a weekend migration project to the self-hosted platform turned out to be a mini-disaster that would take the better part of two weeks to fix. Hundreds of photos were lost during the transition which meant manually uploading and republishing them all –once it was discovered which ones were missing in the first place. That in turn meant going through hundreds of posts one-by-one. The new layout presented separate challenges, which meant more post-by-post fixes than I care to count.

But the biggest personal frustration was that I was largely kept from preparing the posts I had planned for this month, and kept from posting live on the new host for nearly two weeks.

But there were highs, too.

A post kicking off my new Urban Canvases series –-15 Street Art Snaps from Santiago, Chile— was a Freshly Pressed Editor’s Choice on WordPress.com early in the month, giving both site traffic and my subscriber count a considerable boost. The ripples are still being felt, nearly a full month later. Thanks again!

StumbleUpon was also a major source of traffic, helping to launch this daily pic to the month’s No. 1 spot, surpassing even the Freshly Pressed post.

It all somehow conspired to make January the second busiest month ever on the blog, with 5,188 visitors and 8,535 page views. Starting the year with this kind of bang, despite the problems behind the scenes, was the biggest high of all.

Top five posts for January

So what were the month’s Fantastic Five?

5. On the Bus, Revisited, a monochromatic take on one of my favorite photos.
4. The Penguins of Martillo Island, a short video from my walk with the Magellanic penguins on this small island on the Beagle Channel.
3. Five Ways to Find Authenticity on the Road, a quick rant about what is real. (A secret: everything is.)
2. Urban Canvases – 15 Street Art Snaps from Santiago, Chile, a survey of some street art and graffiti from the Chilean capital.
1. The Tobacco Seller of Istanbul (Pic du Jour), a flash portrait of a vendor on the Eminönü side of the Galata Bridge.

Socializing

Despite the unplanned radio silence, January witnessed a steady increase in all social media connections, and an explosion in one.

I began the New Year with the explicit intention of spending more time learning, using, reaching out and connecting on Google+. In January I spent the majority of my SM time on G+, an effort which has already reaped dividends.

Contrary to the word on the street, Google+ is no ghost town. Over the past month my connections on Google+ more than doubled to 4,554, a number that includes people from dozens of countries and all walks of life.

Given its built-in link to the world’s most popular search engine, it’s hardly rocket science to figure out that the potential here is staggering. I’ve been keeping notes and will be putting together a post, a beginners’ guide of sorts, hopefully before the end of the month.

For the record, the numbers, as of Monday night 3 February, are as follows:

Google+ followers: 4,554. Up from 1,853 at the end of December and 1,261 at the close of November.
Twitter followers: 1,184. Up from 1,098 (927 end of November)
Piran Café Facebook page fans: 468. Up from 392 (327 end of November)

Note that the previous numbers were from 7 January (and before that 7 December), so the totals here reflect a period of just 25 days.

Looking ahead to February

The delays caused by the site migration produced their own ripples. I was planning to further organize and edit more video and photos. Those, like my South America manuscript, sat largely untouched. I’m not sure how much progress February will bring on those fronts as I’m now on the road until about the 20th. First a ten-day visit to northeast Ohio where a celebration of my parents’ 50th anniversary awaits. On the return I’ll be flying to Munich, and then spending four days somewhere in Bavaria. I’m open to suggestions.

Post-migration, there is still a problem with notifications reaching those who subscribed via the wordpress.com reader. As of this morning Central European time the problem still hadn’t been corrected. And I just received word that a fix hasn’t yet been found. [The progress can be monitored here.]

That’s the primary reason why I’ve postponed the weekly Urban Canvases series after just two installments. Its inaugural edition attracted a large number of new subscribers and I want to make sure they’re made aware of subsequent editions. Pending the notification fix, the series will return on Tuesday and will remain an early week weekly fixture.

A New Year resolution that’s still going strong!

But under a new name.

On 2 January I introduced the Piran Café Out & About Daily, a simple Day in the Life collection of mobile phone snapshots taken wherever I happened to be and stored in daily albums on my Google+ page.

Frustrated with the limits of my telephone’s camera capabilities –and given my fondness for and attraction to street art and graffiti—I changed its focus and name to the Piran Café Wall Scrawl Daily.

As of yesterday (5 February), the project has appeared six times per week since the beginning of the year and has collected nearly 200 examples of street art and other scrawls in and around Ljubljana. As far as I know, there is no other similar living repository chronicling street art in the Slovenian capital. As my base, that will be the default setting, but I’ll add snaps from wherever I happen to be.  You can find the directory/archive here.

Thanks for reading, keep in touch.

Peace,
Bob

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