Blogging for SEO

by Kelly Posted in About the Blog, Writing | 1 Comment »

Unfortunately, I don’t typically follow my own advice or best practices on this website and write blog posts that will generate large numbers of clicks through something known “in the biz” as search engine optimization (SEO). If I did, I could probably generate all kinds of Internet traffic, unique page views and web page hits, just like I did last December when I blogged about the racist soap.

Of course, when you load up your blog posts with lots of keywords, Google could cast a wary eye on you and stop indexing your website. So it’s important when blogging for SEO to make sure your keywords, tags and categories are germane to the topic on which you are blogging.

For example, if I wanted visitors to come to this website exclusively to hire me as a writer/editor, I would make sure my blog posts were always loaded up with “skilled Indianapolis writer/editor,” or something like that. “Skilled Indianapolis writer/editor” would be a keyword phrase I would use in my first sentence, and perhaps even in the title. I would also use that keyword phrase, “skilled Indianapolis writer/editor” in the “excerpt,” which would function as kind of a teaser when the website contents were displayed on sites like LinkedIn or Google.

Blogging for SEO follows a different cadence of writing than say, an essay, because of the need to emphasize keywords at the top end. It’s as though every website post written for SEO is wearing a double-D. Forgive the metaphor, but I’m so plagued here with spam I tend to forget there are people out there interested in topics that have nothing to do with penis enlargement meds or treatments for tinnitus. (Back at you, suckers.)

Why I blog: Blogging functions as a creative outlet as well as a workout for my writing muscles. It’s a place to store things, like my Slow Food Files, which will one day be compiled into a recipe book. On the blog I can rant, though not without consequences, as the silly soap incident taught me. Finally, it’s a calling card. It’s a way of doing what I say I can do and of walking my talk. Darn the cliché, but sometimes the formula fits.

Zeus socks it to us

by Kelly Posted in Rant | 1 Comment »

At present, the only evil blob in the entire USA is sitting directly over Indiana (see above)—conjuring images of Zeus hurling lightning bolts upon us for our incredible stupidity.

We are sullying the one event that is perhaps Indiana’s greatest claim to universal fame outside basketball—the Indianapolis 500—by inviting the crazy infamous blowhard Donald Trump here to drive the pace car.

Can I even describe the many ways this makes me want to take a shower. This man is not someone who endeavors to make the world a better place; rather, he is adept only at self-promotion, and lately, at outrageous accusations devoid of Truth.

Trump’s ignorance is on full display in a letter he sent to New York Times Op-Ed columnist Gail Collins. Click here to see Trump’s letter and here to see Collins’s column from today’s paper, in which she unpacks Trump’s outrageous claims and outright lies against President Obama, regarding the president’s citizenship and birth, with verifiable, sourced facts.

Nothing Trump does falls within the realm of civil, respectable behavior that is the hallmark of Hoosier hospitality. Much has been done in recent years to “clean up” the “show us your tits” culture of the Indy 500. Now, unfortunately, with cynicism and ignorance on full display, we’re showing a lot worse. Trump’s appearance here on Race Day brings shame on the Indy 500 and on the City of Indianapolis.

Slow Food Files: Fast, Cheap, Hearty and Delicious

by Kelly Posted in Food, Recipes | Comments Off

I know these are called the “Slow Food Files” and it may seem hypocritical to post something quick and easy in this category. I will defend myself only by pointing out that when I started the Slow Food Files I defined slow food as “food you cook yourself rather than schlepping up to the drive thru for” (or something like that. This dish is apparently a Hoosier favorite. The first time I had it was at my sister-in-law Karen’s house, and it is defined by all the adjectives in the above title: fast, cheap, hearty and delicious. I would also add a qualified “healthy and nutritious,” if you look past the sodium in the canned green beans (which you need to flavor the dish) and the fact that it uses smoked sausage (how healthy can that be, really?). Anyway, it’s a terrific way to enjoy a home-cooked meal in 30 minutes, you can keep these ingredients on-hand, and most important, everybody loves it. Serve in shallow bowls with hot peppers on top for that “John’s Famous Stew” effect. DO NOT ADD SALT… the broth is salty enough!

Hoosier Smoked Sausage Pot
1 50-oz can cut green beans
1 lb. skinless smoked sausage, diced into bite-size pieces
4 russett potatoes, diced into 1-inch cubes
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Throw the chopped sausage, potatoes and onion into a large pot or dutch oven. Throw on top the green beans with the liquid. Grind a whole bunch of black pepper on top and give the thing a quick stir while you’re bringing it to a boil. Cover and simmer at a lower temperature about 30 minutes, until potatoes are soft. Enjoy!

anima sana in corpore sano

by Kelly Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

 

It is to be prayed that the mind be sound in a sound body.
Ask for a brave soul that lacks the fear of death,
which places the length of life last among nature’s blessings,
which is able to bear whatever kind of sufferings,
does not know anger, lusts for nothing and believes
the hardships and savage labors of Hercules better than
the satisfactions, feasts, and feather bed of an Eastern king.
I will reveal what you are able to give yourself;
For certain, the one footpath of a tranquil life lies through virtue.
–Juvenal 

Slow Food Files: I’d rather be baking!

by Kelly Posted in Food, Recipes | Comments Off

Tax time means aggregating tons of data and crunching numbers in mean old computer programs that are NOT friendly to writers. Spring can be a hard time of year–unless you’re a duck or an accountant–and I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing I could be doing something besides battling the elements and dealing with spreadsheets!

There’s practically nothing I enjoy more than whipping up something delicious in the kitchen. Every July, I purchase a 5 lb. box of blueberries on sale and put up 1-cup portions in the freezer to use for baking all year. This past weekend I bid adieu to the last of my frozen blueberries in pursuit of one more batch of blueberry muffins. I’m a little ahead of schedule, as I usually like to have frozen blueberries on hand all year, and I refuse to pay $3-$5 for a little plastic container of roughly 16 berries.

The recipe below is based on one from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion, which is not only a great cookbook, it’s an excellent resource for all kinds of ingredient information and baking techniques. Instead of mixing up cinnamon sugar each time I bake these, I mix it up ahead of time and keep it in the cupboard to sprinkle over other things, like toast. If I have other ripe fruit, sometimes I’ll substitute it for part of the blueberries. This time, I sliced an apple that was a little past its snack date and stuck a wedge into each muffin top before baking. The result was delicious!

 

Classic Blueberry Muffins

1 stick of butter (8 oz.)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups frozen blueberries, drained (if using fresh, mash half of them before adding)
cinnamon sugar (use fresh Vietnamese cinnamon for extra flavor!)

Set oven to 375°
Line 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners; spray each well with PAM.
Put stick of butter into large mixing bowl and microwave it on high for 1 minute. Add to bowl the sugar and salt; beat well, then beat in eggs one at a time. Add the milk and vanilla and stir until well mixed. Add the flour and baking powder on top, muddling the two together before beating into the wet mixture. Mix well. Stir in drained blueberries. Fill muffin cups until full and sprinkle each generously with cinnamon sugar. Bake 30 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before removing from pan. Store leftovers in the fridge. Enjoy!

In defense of gratuitous argot and emoticons *\O/*

by Kelly Posted in Writing | Comments Off

In today’s New York Times: letters regarding an op-ed from last Sunday: “Teaching to the Text Message,” by Andy Selsberg.

The letters reminded me that when I first read Selsberg’s essay a week ago, I intended to comment, but was waylaid by work and then beset by an upper-respiratory affliction so severe that I have been utterly tormented and unable to put a sentence together for four entire days. At last, however, the faint light of Hope glimmers ahead….

Selsberg wrote that he instructs the students in his freshman English class to write captions and product descriptions en route to learning longer-form writing, such as essays and research papers. The point of these exercises is to “reward concision” and encourage “economical and innovative” use of language. However, Selsberg takes off points for “gratuitous argot and emoticons.”

OMG. And to think that this very week, the Oxford English Dictionary LEGITIMIZED these very “popular Internet slang terms” by adding them to its hallowed lexicon. (See AP story here.)

As anyone who has studied language surely knows, it’s not untouchable or static. Language is constantly evolving because the speakers of languages interact. Back in the olden days of chain mail and swords — the lyfe so short and the craft so long to lerne — interaction happened by force and conquering. Then as people spread across the globe, languages spread with them, and we ended up with everything from outright adoption of languages across cultures to pidgin forms that marked entire societies.

Today we have TECHNOLOGY spreading language across our flat world instantly. And we have flattened our interactions with this new code they call  “popular Internet slang.”

Why do we punctuate our emails with a :)? What’s the point of LOL? If I sign off with <3, is that less amorous than “I love you” but stronger than XXX?

I know in my communications, particularly with some colleagues, a message is sometimes softened with a :) much more easily than by using words. Text communications lack the inflections and facial cues that mark in-person communications. So emoticons are a way of adding personalization. “Initializations,” or abbreviations, also have their utility, adding loads of meaning without the bulk.

It’s not that I think we should completely abandon Standard English and replace it with these abbreviated and symbolic forms. I’m every bit as much of a snob about some abuses — like people pronouncing “nuclear” as “nucular” — as the most buttoned-up grammar maven. But the goal of language is to communicate, and no one can argue that Internet slang doesn’t do that, both economically and innovatively.

So *\O/* (cheer)!  <3 (heart) the dynamics of language. And have a good day :)

Reflections on a bout of the crud

by Kelly Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off



Robitussin DM — $4.74
Puffs Plus with Lotion, 124 Count — $2.49
Turner Classic Movies — fraction of the overall Comcast bill
Chicken noodle soup from Shapiro’s Deli and the sister-in-law who brings it to you?

Priceless

Slow Food Files: Make something sinful tonight

by Kelly Posted in Food, Recipes | Comments Off

Under the weather today in more ways than one, I got an early start on supper to soothe the bronchial beast within and deal with the fact that — hyacinth and calendar aside — spring hasn’t quite yet arrived. Jolene Ketzenberger today wrote about comfort foods in her IndyStar column, so I got the idea for chicken and dumplings. This recipe is so easy and so good, and if you’re a cream of mushroom soup snob, get over it. You won’t recognize it in the finished product. I like it with a plain steamed green veggie (we’re having broccoli) and a glass of Chardonnay:

Chicken and Dumplings

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Oil for frying
Flour for dusting
Seasoned salt to taste
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can refrigerated biscuits (10)
1 soup can milk
1 soup can water

Add oil to frying pan and heat. Put a small amount of flour into an old bread bag and add chicken thighs you have rinsed and patted dry. Shake until chicken parts are well coated. Add chicken to heated oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Brown thoroughly on one side and turn, season again and brown thoroughly on second side. Briefly flip back to other side. Chicken is fully cooked when it’s brown and begins to “sweat.” Remove from heat. In a Dutch oven or very large pot, combine soup, milk and water; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Pinch biscuit dough in thirds and drop into the boiling mixture. Cook about 10 minutes, until dough is cooked through. Add the soup-biscuit mixture to the frying pan, give the whole thing a stir and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the gravy is cooked down, about 30 minutes.

Sympathies to Jolene on the loss of her mother.

Have a great evening.

Do Indy’s potholes reveal migration routes of ancient settlers?

by Kelly Posted in Infrastructure | Comments Off

Archeologists may find cultural relevance or historical significance in the stratification of the various layers that make up The Modern Pothole — road surface, prior road surface, cobblestones, migration routes of ancient settlers — but when I peer into those gaping holes, I feel as though I am staring into the depths of hell.

Back in our pre-recession, happy halcyon days, before our roads and highways took on the characteristics of third-world countries, there was a stretch between Kessler and Westfield Boulevards on the north side of Indianapolis that could jolt you wide awake on both ends of your commute.

At the southernmost flank of that pockmarked road there lurked one final, massive pothole next to the concrete bridge that spans the canal. Seriously deteriorated, the bridge was crumbling and exposing steel rebar, which snaked out menacingly onto the road.

Eventually, I found myself in a poetic mood and sent a note to the MAC. (That’s “Mayor’s Action Center,” for those who are not familiar.) The missive went something like, “No doubt there are better roads in Afghanistan than the ones Indianapolis commuters are forced to endure each day on our way to work.” I went on to point out that the bridge looked as though a minor temblor could fell it, and that perhaps it would be a good idea to make some repairs to the bridge and to resurface the road.

I have no idea how many others complained, or what critical mass of nasty poetic letters landed in the email in-box of the Department of Public Works. All I know is that months later, the road was resurfaced, lipstick was put on that pig of a bridge, and my son christened the project the “Kelly Jones Sharp Memorial Highway.”

Back then, that was the worst road on my daily commute. Today, nearly every road in town is equally as bad, or worse. Which brings me to my encounter with a pothole crew today.

The city has hired independent contractors to fix the holes! Potholes were being fixed in my own neighborhood this morning! The contractors used “hot patch” (they said) and there were only two of them (versus the five or six who showed up last year to fill two potholes down the street)!

Which has made me reflect on an editorial cartoon by our own Gary Varvel of The Indianapolis Star, circa 1999. See above. LOL. And not.

Indeed, I have often contemplated whether the homeowner filling the pothole in the cartoon could become a reality, particularly as resources continue to dwindle. Yes, I know we’re selling off stuff to finance infrastructure and road projects in Indianapolis, and the temporary signs posted across town that improvements are on the way are reassuring. Near and far there are cities grappling with worse crises (like Detroit, Hartford, and Camden), and when you consider that, a few potholes don’t look as bad as a lack of law enforcement and emergency services or “rabbits, pets or meat.”

It’s something to remember when we’re peering into the depths of hell. They’re only potholes, unless you’re an archaeologist.

Where the energy is, and where it ain’t

by Kelly Posted in Food, Trends | Comments Off

The Marsh Supermarket weekly sale flyer has landed in my mailbox, and its tired ”Ten for $10″ — mostly on all things packaged and processed — seems like confirmation of my uneasy suspicion that the supermarket is a dying model.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my little Nora Marsh, and the fact that the same checkout clerks and baggers have worked there for years. I’m a fan of the guys who staff the meat counter, who know my name, share recipes and chit-chat and work diligently every spring to get our whopping order of ribs just right for our big party. I like the fact that Marsh is a good citizen of this community, and that they initiated a reusable sack credit long before other retailers caught on to the trend. I appreciate the flower folks who are always helpful and conversational.

But, over the years I have also  found myself at Whole Foods – just a block away — to purchase several items each week, including organic produce, organic whole milk and better eggs. I can’t afford to shop there exclusively, nor would I want to, but I’m on the scene often enough to notice a trend.

Hamburger Helper, Suddenly Salad, Diet Snapple and Totino’s Pizza Rolls – all “Ten for $10″ this week at Marsh – will not be the foods of popular choice in the future. The packaged, processed so-called “food” of our supermarket golden years, tainted with high-fructose corn syrup and trans-fats,  is going out of style.

On any given day, visit Whole Foods and Marsh, and you will see where the energy is, and where it ain’t. You’ll see where the people are, and where they are not. Moreover, you’ll see what shoppers are finding attractive, and what they are not. We are not finding processed food attractive anymore.

Thanks to food advocates Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser and others, there is more social consciousness about the food we eat. More people are cooking and growing their own vegetables. We’re canning and preserving; some are even keeping chickens in their backyard. We’re going to farmers markets and buying local. The supermarket offers very little that fits into that evolving model, and I predict it’s on its way out.