Category Archives: Blog

The Unicorn Clarified

Today is National Unicorn Day, which is always a day of celebration for my blog. I wish everyone a Happy Unicorn Day! And may we all be very successful catching unicorns today, and every day.

Newcomers to this blog may wonder what I mean by “unicorn,” and sometimes I worry they may get the wrong idea. So be advised, newbies, that I define a unicorn as anything that is unique. There are many other definitions that are quite valid elsewhere, but not here.

For instance, there’s the classic definition, of the mythical beast with one horn. And in fact, I use that beast as a symbol for uniqueness. But it’s just a symbol. It isn’t the uniqueness itself.

Other animals have also been called unicorns. For instance, there’s the Hercules beetle, which has a horn-like prominence on its head. And then there’s the Schizura unicornis caterpillar, which has a large horn sticking out of it’s back, near it’s head. And as for flying unicorns, there’s the Kamichi, or Unicorn Bird (also known as a Horned Screamer).

A pod of narwhals.

As for swimming unicorns, in the Arctic sea we have the narwhal, which has a single-horned tusk sticking out of it’s forehead. During medieval times, these tusks were often passed off as unicorn horns, and were considered to have magical properties.

In the swinger world, a unicorn is a polyamorous woman who loves threesomes, as such women are considered to be very rare.

Given that unicorns are often associated with rainbows, the unicorn has become a symbol of the LGBT+ community.

The unicorn label has been applied to a person with three or more skills, in a new field of expertise, or to any exceptional employee with rare qualities, just due to the rareness of such a worker.

And in finance, a unicorn is a startup company with a valuation of over one billion dollars, that has not gone public yet.

This is just a small sampling of the many ways the term “unicorn” has been bandied about. It seems to be a very versatile word.

Therefore, for the sake of clarity, let me emphasize that this blog is not about exotic animals, polyamorous women, the LGBT+ community, skilled employees, startup companies, or anything else, except where that thing is rare, novel, unusual, weird, odd, unheard-of, or otherwise unique.

So here’s wishing everyone many unique and enjoyable experiences on this National Unicorn Day!

Blogoholics Anonymous

“Uh . . . my name is T-Tippy. And . . . um . . .” This was so embarrassing. I looked toward my sponsor sitting in the front row. He smiled and nodded as if trying to encourage me. I continued, but it wasn’t easy. “Um . . . I’m a . . . um . . . I’m a blogoholic!”

I just blurted it out. I wanted to shrink into a tiny little mouse and scurry out of the room. But then, to my amazement, everyone in the audience smiled and said in unison, “Hello Tippy! Welcome to Blogoholics Anonymous!” That one bit of encouragement steadied me. I stood up a little straighter. My embarrassment drained away. I smiled, because I knew at that moment that they were one of me, and I was one of them. It was almost as good as getting three dozen likes on one of my posts.

I confessed my whole story. I told them how I’d started out blogging seven years ago. I testified to how harmless it felt , and how I rationalized to myself that this was the best way possible I could spend my time. And it was not much time. Just a little bit at first. Heck, I only posted once every couple of weeks. And I hardly ever commented on anyone else’s posts.

But then, little by little, I became entangled in the Gordian knot of blogging. I posted more and more frequently. My brain excogitated more and more often about what I could post next. I ventured into commenting more frequently on other blogs. And down the vortex I was swallowed. I tried resisting, but it was all for naught.

Eventually, every waking minute was monopolized by my blogging habit. If I wasn’t writing a post, I was thinking up a post. Or I was haunting my blogging buddies and trying to come up with a funny clever thing to say on every single one of their posts. Every single one!

Yes, I confessed this. I confessed it all. And you know what? They understood! It was like, been there done that for them. They shared their stories too, and I recognized the same blogging bug in them that I had been infected with.

At the end of the meeting my sponsor gave me a warm hug, and shook my hand. He told me how proud he was that I had finally taken that big step and admitted to being a blogoholic. He had other things to tell me too, but I couldn’t stand around talking much longer. I had to go, so I begged off learning these other things until the next meeting.

You see, I was so excited about this new experience at Blogoholics Anonymous, that I couldn’t wait to get home and write a post about it.

10 Block Editor Tips

I’ve been struggling up the learning curve of WordPress’s infamous Block Editor. I like the Block Editor, but it took about three calls to the Suicide Prevention Hotline before I finally became comfortable with it. Now I’ve almost entirely abandoned the Classic Editor.

Goodbye, Classic Editor! You were a class act, but now there’s a new kid on the block.

WP has done a very good job at hiding some useful features, some of which seem like very basic features. Such as, how to add a line of text directly below the current line, while staying in the same paragraph. Poets and listmakers would appreciate how to do this.

Google has been helpful, and I’ve discovered other solutions by accident and trial-and-error. There’s much more to figure out, so I wouldn’t consider myself an expert.

If you have any questions, I recommend trying Google. I can’t be anyone’s personal tutor because I’m still piss-poor at this, and even worse at explaining technical things to others. Besides, I’m impatient with people who are as slow at learning things as myself.

Nevertheless, I thought I’d pass along, to the best of my doofus brain’s limited ability, ten of my most useful discoveries. I hope this will benefit anyone else who’s been battling the Block Editor.

10 Block Editor Tips

  1. To add a line directly below a line, within the same Paragraph Block, such as when you’re typing a poem or compiling a list, press the Shift+Enter keys.
  2. To change the text color of part of a Paragraph Block, rather than the entire block, select the text, then hover over the down arrow in the top menu, which will reveal the words, “More rich text controls.” Select that down arrow, then select “Text Color.”
  3. To make text wrap around an image, select the image, then hover your cursor over the various, funny-looking boxes in the top menu, until your cursor displays, “Change alignment.” Click here, then choose a left or right alignment. You will also likely have to reduce the size of the image. How to do this should be fairly obvious, after you select the image.
  4. If you copy and paste text to the Block Editor, and it appears with the ugly gray, “Classic Editor” background, hover over the box to the left of the up and down arrows, in the top menu, and your cursor should display the words, “Change block type or style.” Click on this box, and then choose “Transform to . . . Paragraph.” This will remove the gray background and convert the text to Paragraph format.
  5. To add a new Paragraph Block, without having to go through all the rigmarole of clicking on the Plus “+” sign box, position your cursor at the end of an existing Paragraph Block, and press the “Enter” key. A fresh, new, blank Paragraph Block will appear directly below.
  6. To move a block of text, or an image, or any other type of block, select the block, then click on the up or down arrow in the top menu.
  7. To instantly delete a block, select the block, then press the Shift+Alt+Z keys.
  8. To undo some dumb, fool thing that you just did, press the Ctrl-Z keys.
  9. To save text as a reusable block, click inside the block, then click the three vertical dots in the top, right menu. Choose, “Add to Reusable Blocks.” To name or delete the block, click the Plus “+” sign in the top-left menu. Then choose the “Reusable” tab. Then click on the “Manage all reusable blocks” link.
  10. To insert a reusable block into a post, click the Plus “+” sign in the top-left menu. Then choose the “Reusable” tab. Then find the block with the name you’ve assigned to it, that you’re looking for, and click that block. It will insert into your post. If you want to edit it within the post, you must immediately choose, “Convert to regular blocks” in the top menu. Do this immediately, or this option will disappear from the top menu. Then you’ll have to delete the block and start all over again.

Here’s a very useful, 20-minute YouTube tutorial on how to use the Block Editor. It just covers the basics, but I found the information very helpful at transitioning from the Classic Editor. And a big shoutout to the Widow Badass, for bringing this tutorial to my attention:

Interblogging

I thought I was the first to use the word, “interblogging.” Then I discovered it had already been thunk up by a bunch of other people. The Urban Dictionary defines “interblog” as something of a portmanteau, used by those who haven’t a clue about blogging and the internet.

Interblog: When discussing blogging and the internet to a much older person, who knows nothing of the web, they get confused and combine them.

Urban Dictionary
Comments are the heart of interblogging.

To cover up my stupidity, I came up with my own definition, which I think is much more sophisticated. I now define interblogging as the involved interaction that occurs between bloggers, mainly in the Comments section of their posts. And really, that’s what I’ve been thinking the whole time I’ve used that word.

I like my definition, because it makes me look less stupid. But more importantly, it puts a label on a netherworld of blogging that exists just one level below the surface of the blogosphere. It refers to an inconspicuous passage that bloggers can travel through. A wormhole of sorts. A hyperlink, that leads to a speakeasy world of free-form forums and direct interaction.

Some bloggers just seem to be putting out their message, without interacting much with the public. They’re what I call “broadcast bloggers,” engaged in one-way communication. Some of these broadcast bloggers can be popular. They have hundreds, or thousands of followers. Some also receive a large number of complimentary comments to their posts.

But their responses seem taciturn. They say stuff like: “Thank you.” “Thanks for following.” “I appreciate it.” “You’re nice.” I wonder if they copy and paste some of these remarks. It seems obvious they’re not looking for a conversation. And maybe that’s because they don’t have much time for chatter. They’re too busy posting.

Then there are the interbloggers. When you check out the Comments, it’s like opening the door into some sort of wild party. Well, not always so wild, but at least something less tame than an empty library full of cobwebs.

The commenters are doing a whole lot more than just complimenting the post, if they’re complimenting it at all. Hell, they could be insulting it. But mainly they’re offering their own profound insights and experiences, debating issues, making smart-alecky remarks, telling a joke, or just shooting the shit.

And the author of the post is often responding with thoughtful or unthoughtful remarks going well beyond a two or three word sentence. It’s an actual conversation. It’s involved interaction. It’s what I call interblogging. At least now I do.

I’ve been interblogging for over six years now, thanks to a long-time blogger named Cranky Pants. Six years ago she had a blog called Gibber Jabberin’, and the interaction that occurred on her site was the quintessence of interblogging, in my view. Gibber, er, Cranky, inspired me, and so I shut down my broadcast blog and began a new one, called Golden Daze, where I put an emphasis on interblogging.

But the theme of Golden Daze didn’t quite feel right to me, so after about a year I shut it down. Exactly five years ago, on January 25, 2016, Chasing Unicorns was born, and I’ve stuck with this blog ever since. Today is Chasing Unicorns fifth birthday. And after five years I’ve managed to almost reach 1,000 followers (994, at latest count). It was up to 999 a few days ago, but I think I might have pissed a few people off. As usual.

Yes, I realize that 95% of my followers are just trying to sell me something, but I’m still proud of my illusory fame. And yes, I’ll admit the growth has been slow, but I don’t follow other blogs just to get them to follow me back. I follow them because I genuinely want to try reading them for awhile. And that doesn’t happen very often. Even more rare is me continuing to follow a blog. I’m very picky.

Most of my followers don’t interblog much, if at all. But a few do, and they’ve made this endeavor worthwhile. I appreciate the friendships we’ve developed. And I invite anyone who’s been reading from the sidelines, and who’s interested, to join the fun.

I think interblogging is the most enjoyable way to run a blog. I’m sure I would have given up on this shit a long time ago if all I did was broadcast blog. Interblogging brings blogging to life. It turns it into a human experience. And it’s a lot more fun, with all the smartasses that leave their smart-alecky comments. I’ve made good friends from interblogging. And a few good enemies.

So thank you to all who follow my blog, and who put up with the smartass remarks I leave on your blog. Thank you for the good badinage and the bad goodinage. You make it fun. I wouldn’t do this without you.

Masscots

Vic, at Cosmic Observation, has suggested that this blog needs a mascot. I thought a jackass named “Jack” would be an apt mascot, since we have so many smartasses that drop comments here. But then she suggested a female mascot. Perhaps a jackass named “Jenny.” She pointed out that Jenny is the animal husbandry term for a female jackass.

First of all, now that I know this, I feel sorry for any woman named Jenny. And I also feel sorry for any husband that has to marry an animal. But if I had to marry an animal, I think a jackass would be my first choice. They’re cute, and ornery, and funny, all at the same time. Just what I like in a spouse.

Back in the Old West days, many a lonely desert prospector considered their jackass to be their best friend. And who knows what went on between them, in the name of animal husbandry. So if a scruffy old desert prospector can marry a jackass, I think it’s only fitting that we smartasses choose the jackass as our mascot.

As Chancellor of Jackass University, I hereby make the choice, without objection, for all of us. I nominate our new mascots to be jackasses.

Only I’m calling them “masscots,” with two s’s. And their names are Jack Ass, and Jenny Ass, from the Ass family.

If anyone objects to this nomination, please leave your smartass comments, below. If necessary, we can hold an election. And then we can contest the results of the election. We might even take it all the way to the Supreme Court, and leave it up to its nine jackasses to decide the matter.

And now I introduce to you, our nominees. Our two prospective masscots. Our symbols of the hallowed craft of smartassery. Here, ladies and gentlemen, are Jack and Jenny Ass . . .

The Perfect Spam Recipe

Yesterday, Carolyn, at Nuggets of Gold, usurped the title of King Spam from Colin, and became our newest Queen of Spam. Remember the Silly Spam Game we played back in May, where the challenge was to submit a silly comment that my spam filter would catch? Colin, from A Dog’s Life? (Stories of Me and Him) won that challenge, with one comment that he masterfully crafted with a good spam recipe.

Meanwhile, none of Carolyn’s recipes worked, so she lost the contest.

But yesterday, a record four of Carolyn’s comments got snagged by my spam filter, and I had to stick my hand through all the yuck and muck and dig them out.

But I think I now know why some comments from pre-approved commentators on my blog end up on the spam heap. In other words, I think I’ve figured out the perfect recipe for making spam.

Occasionally after reading a comment, I get in an all-fired hurry and try replying to it without putting my cursor in the Reply box and clicking the mouse. Of course it doesn’t work, and WordPress just sits there and ignores me until I put my brain in gear and figure out what I did wrong. That is, unless the first letter I attempt to type is a capital S. Then the comment is instantly vacuum-sucked into the spam filter, with no warning or message telling me what is about to happen or what just did happen.

Compliments of WP, we have a shortcut key-combo of Shift+S, designed to instantly open up the trap door beneath an obnoxious commentator, and drop them into the Spam Dungeon. But if you are unaware of this shortcut key-combo, you may inadvertently send a good commentator into the Spam Dungeon. And that is not how to make blogging buddies.

Not only that, but once you drop someone down there, they remain there. Apparently, that’s what happened with Carolyn. A few days ago, I inadvertently opened the trapdoor with Shift+S, and down she dropped into the oubliette. I said to myself, “What the hell? Now, where did Carolyn go?”

I finally found her, wan and wasting, in the deep dark depths of Spam Prison. Of course I freed her, because she gives me lots of Golden Delicious apples.

But somehow, WP didn’t get the notice of her parole, and it kept sending her comments down to Spam Hell, even without Shift+S. That’s very nice of you, WP, to try to read my mind like that.

After manually approving four of her condemned spams, er, comments, WP seems to have finally figured out that she’s a good commentator (relatively speaking). And now WP has stopped doing me the unsolicited favor of filtering out her comments.

Carolyn is Queen Spam!

But not before she snatched the royal spam title away from Colin. So congratulations, Carolyn. Today I crown you Queen Spam!

Ta-ta-da-dahhh!

By the way, Carolyn, I promise to be good from now on, lest you use Shift+S too, and drop me down into those dark depths from which few return.

King Spam

Yesterday we played the Silly Spam Game. I challenged my followers who were pre-approved commenters to make silly comments that my spam filter might catch. Thank you to all who tried their hand at spamming. Unfortunately, only one succeeded.

Colin, from A Dog’s Life? (Stories of me and him) created the perfect mix of spam, with a comment that looked sort of like something from a mad Russian hacker. And my spam filter grabbed that comment and stuffed it deep into its hidden spam dungeon.

Colin is King Spam!

And so, Colin, you are the winner. Today I crown you King Spam.

Ta-ta-da-dahhh!

A runner-up who I think merits mention is the Nowhere Tribune. He created a comment that consisted of three successive links to his blog. My spam filter didn’t quite stop it, but I did have to approve his comment before it would appear.

And so, Nowhere Tribune, you came in second. I crown you Viceroy of Spam.

Ta-dahhh!

Joyroses13, nrhatch, and Gibber, thanks for trying so hard. But it looks like you’ll have to eat more spam to improve your spamming skills.

And me too, because try as I may, I couldn’t even spam myself.

The Silly Spam Game

A few months ago, joyroses13, one of my more annoying pleasant followers, made the following silly comment: “…..!!!!” In fact, she made three such comments. All three were caught and flagged by my spam filter. As far as WordPress was concerned, joyroses13 was a spammer.

This left me wondering what the heck is going on with WP? Doesn’t WP realize she’s an approved commenter of my blog? So why would WP flag any comment from her, or any other of my approved commenters? Because this sort of thing has happened to others, as well.

There’s something fluky going on with WP’s spam filter. And that gives me inspiration for a little game. How about if we use this post to see how many silly “spam” comments we can make?

The way this game works, is rather than make a normal comment, try to make some crazy kind of silly comment that WP might flag as spam. Because this blog is about unicorns, which are unique creatures, your comment has to be substantially different from anyone else’s. So you can’t cheat and repeat joyroses13’s “….!!!!” comment.

Whoever makes the most amount of unique, silly “spam” comments, that are flagged as spam by WordPress, wins. How about if we make the prize a photo of a can of spam? I can post it tomorrow, with the name of the winner beneath it, along with a link to the winner’s blog. Wouldn’t it be a great honor to win such a fabulous prize?

And I’m going to see if I can spam myself, with this silly comment: &&&&$$$$whoooowheeee?????….

Alright everyone, let’s get on with the Silly Spam Game. Try to spam me.

Go ahead. I dare ya.

Business As Snoozual

In yesterday’s post I hinted that some changes were in the works for Chasing Unicorns. Yessirree there are. Because I’m not a business-as-usual kind of guy. Nosirree.

But I hope I didn’t leave you with the wrong impression about me. I do like change, this is true. Change is wonderful. I love the refreshing novelty of doing something new. But what I don’t like is having to work hard to achieve change. That’s because I’m a business-as-snoozual kind of guy.

This is me, trying to dream up a new post.

I want to rest and relax and let other people achieve change for me. I want to enjoy all the neat, new things people provide. As long as they don’t disturb my nap. That would be anathema. (And you know what anathema means, don’t you Just Joan 42?)

They say the smartest people are the laziest. That’s because they come up with all kinds of ingenious ways to get out of work. So, lazy as I am, I put on my thinking cap the other day and tried real hard to be smart. It hurt. Thinking is not a practice I approach lightly. I don’t allow myself to think this hard except maybe two or three times per year.

But ala kazam and zippedy doo! What do you know? A 14-watt, LED 100-watt equivalent light bulb switched on above my head. I got an idea!

My idea is to let my followers help me out with my blog.

My blog is about chasing unicorns. Unicorn is code for unique. So the purpose of my blog is to chase after uniqueness.

That’s why my posts tend to be eclectic. One day I might post about fabric softener. Some other day I might post about Trump, or a national park I visited, or something historical. I aim for variety. I try to keep my posts unique, just like a unicorn is unique.

And when my lazy, lame brain can’t come up with anything unique, I steal a unique quote from some unsuspecting celebrity.

Uniqueness is all a part of change. The more change we experience, the more uniqueness we experience. This is where you, my followers, come into my brilliant, 14-watt, LED 100-watt equivalent idea. You can provide change to my blog by submitting unique things, that I will post for you.

For instance, if you have a unique question, or a unique idea, or maybe you’re in a unique situation, you can submit it to Chasing Unicorns. Or let’s say you’ve had a unique experience, or you recently learned something unique. Or whatever the heck it is, as long as it’s unique, you can submit it to this blog.

I’ll post it for you. And I’ll even post a link to your blog, to give you some free advertisement. Then the rest of us can look at the “unicorn” you sent me, and make smart-ass wise-ass dumb-ass unique comments about it. In this way, we’ll be creating more unicorns, with our comments.

There will be no rules, except the ones I make up as we go along. And I’d rather not make up any because I’m too lazy to enforce rules. So please try to keep it halfway civilized.

This I think, could be a perfect plan. Just let my wacky, nutty, crazy followers write my blog for me. What could possibly go wrong?

There are two new pages at the top of this blog that explain the whole unicorn submission process in detail. The page entitled, What’s a Unicorn? will hopefully give you a better idea of how I define a unicorn. And the page entitled, Unicorn Teleporting Pod will explain how to transport your unicorn to my blog.

But if you’re as lazy as me, and don’t want to read those pages, I’ll make it real simple, right here. Just send your unicorn to the following email address:

And I’ll take it from there.

Alright, enough of this chit-chat. It’s time for my nap, and it’s time for you to start chasing unicorns. Get on out there and catch some one-horned beasts for me, and teleport them in. Hopefully the fun can begin tomorrow, with a brand new, unique post from a follower.

I’m really looking forward to the changes you add to my blog. But as for now I’m feeling sleepy. So it’s time for me to get right down to some business.

Business as snoozual.

Movin’ On Up

Chasing Unicorns is movin’ on up. I’ve upgraded to WordPress’s Premium Plan.

After eight years of freeriding off WordPress, and four or five or six different blogs—heck I can’t even count them all—I’ve finally stumbled into a blog that I’ve stuck with longer than it takes snow to melt from a hot pile of manure.

For some reason Chasing Unicorns has grown on me, and I think I’m going to keep it around a while. So why not reward this blog, and my loyal followers, by bedizening it with an upgrade?

The Premium Plan costs $96 a year. I’ve felt a little skeptical about what I could get from prying my wallet open that wide, and that’s one thing that was holding me back.

But so far it seems worth the dough. One of my favorite things is the unlimited Premium themes. These themes, that you have to pay for, seem to come with more versatility and better artistic design.

I opted for the Broadsheet theme. It’s priced at $79 for those with the Free or Personal Plan. But it’s nothing extra when you’re a Premium Plan subscriber.

I love the Advanced Design Customization. You can tweak the hell out of your theme, and come up with all kinds of unique designs. In fact, I’ve tweaked my Broadsheet theme so much, you’d swear I was a meth head.

I also got a new domain name. Now my blog can be found under two domains–the one I’ve had all along, and a new one with “wordpress” removed. And so now you can find me at https://unicorniks.com, as well as https://unicorniks.wordpress.com. It ain’t no big deal, just snob value, really. But somehow it seems to add legitimacy to a website. By the way, you can also get this feature with the Personal Plan, which only costs $48 per year.

I get 13GB of storage space also, as opposed to the 4GB that comes with the Free Plan. This helps me relax. I use a lot of photos and have been getting worried about bumping up against my top limit.

Something that puzzles me is that I’m now paying for “Advanced Social Media”. This allows me to schedule my social media posts in advance. Hmm, I’ve been able to do that all along, with the Free Plan. Has WordPress just not noticed, and let me get away with something? Or has WordPress hoped I wouldn’t notice that I’ve had this feature all along, and they think they’re the ones getting away with something?

All in all, I’m very happy with the upgrade. And I hope you will be too.

And now that Chasing Unicorns is upgraded, it’s also going to change directions a little. Sometimes you have to zig, zag, and jink around to catch more unicorns. This change is still in the works, but I think I’ll be introducing it very soon.

Thank you from the calcified chambers of my heart for following me. I hope you’ll enjoy the new flavor of my blog.

Please stay tuned, and always keep up the chase!

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