Where Have I Been
I decided to jump on the trend of listing places visited. For my list, I’m limiting it to locations where I spent meaningful time (ex. no airport only stops).
- United States of America 🇺🇸
- Mexico 🇲🇽
- El Salvador 🇸🇻
- Honduras 🇭🇳
- Jamaica 🇯🇲
- Cayman Islands 🇰🇾
- Lithuania 🇱🇹
- Latvia 🇱🇻
- Belarus 🇧🇾
States within the USA
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
- New York
- Washington D.C. (not a state)
I’ve spent way more time than I care to admit in Frankfurt, Germany (Interpol mixup, for real); London, England; and Seattle, Washington (USA). But they were all limited to airport adventures.
Introducing the Tiny Theme for Micro.blog
Recently, I’ve been working on a new theme for Micro.blog for my personal use. Others have expressed interest in using it on their site, so I decided to make it available for anyone. I hope you enjoy the Tiny Theme.
My goal in making the theme was for it to be as functional as possible while also being lightweight and blazing fast. It doesn’t include any added scripts or custom fonts. On the CSS side, it’s fully responsive without size related media queries. In fact, the only media query used is for dark mode.
Tweaking the Design
You can easily tweak elements of the design by going to the Micro.blog Dashboard and navigating to Design → Edit CSS.
- Use CSS variables to make wholesale changes to the colors used throughout the site.
- Change the sizing of the entire site simply by changing the body font-size. Everything automatically adjusts to fit your preferred font-size.
- Easily hide categories from single posts or the bio section in the header.
- And infinitely more possibilites!
- Uses Micro.blog’s built-in “Edit Footer” feature (Design → Edit Footer)
- Works with @sod’s Conversation on Micro.Blog plugin
- Works with @sod’s Reply by Email plugin
- Includes tweaks for @manton’s Search page plugin
- Includes tweaks for the default Photo page feature
- Includes custom styling for comments (enable on the Design page)
- Includes custom styling for the replies page (enable in Pages)
- Includes custom styling for the archive page (enable in Pages)
If you have any problems with the Tiny Theme for Micro.blog, you can contact me for help. If you’re the Github type, you can also report stuff on the repo.
Get it now
You can install the theme directly from the Micro.blog plug-ins page (login required).
If you decide to install it on your blog, let me know in the comments.
A Few Thoughts on My Blogging and Social Media Setup
Even before the Elon-Runs-Twitter era, I was starting the process of creating a more seamless and less time consuming online strategy. I knew I wanted to keep my blog. I knew I wanted to limit my social media exposure without completely leaving it behind.
The first steps were easy:
- Delete my Facebook profile along with the Facebook and Messenger apps
- Make my Instagram account read-only, private, and largely inactive
But What About Blogging?
I wanted a place to put my thoughts and writings, even if it didn’t get as much attention as it would’ve in other places. And I wanted to own it.
I’ve tried just about every blogging platform and method out there, so I’m familiar with the options. I was an orignal Micro.blog kickstarter backer, so I decided to return. I set everything up and began blogging again.
I use MarsEdit on Mac and the official Micro.blog app on iOS (although Gluon has seen some use lately).
Twitter and Mastodon
Micro.blog has solid cross-posting features that allows me to send all posts to a variety of places. For me, that meant Twitter and Mastodon.
So my next steps were simple:
- Setup crossposting to Twitter through Micro.blog
- Setup crossposting to Mastodon thorugh Micro.blog
I’ve been largely happy with this setup. I do have some wishes (consolidating replies as comments on my blog, for example1).
What about Micro.blog’s Mastodon Support?
Micro.blog does offer limited support for Mastodon directly. This is different that cross posting. What happens is Micro.blog creates a username for you without an actual Mastodon Instance. This means that Mastodon users can follow your blog within their Mastodon app/instance without issue, but you can not do much more from your side.
If they reply to your post, it’ll show up as a comment on your blog. That’s awesome! You can reply back to them from within Micro.blog (although it’s a little buggy), and they’ll see it. Again, awesome. However, there is no instance for you to login and manage the specifics of this account. This is great if you want to make your information readily available to Mastodon users, but don’t want to manage your own profile/account.
In my case, I have enjoyed having a separate Mastodon account that can crosspost from my blog and allow me access to the full Mastodon experience.
Note: You can follow Mastodon users from within the Micro.blog apps. While it works well, I would say it’s for low volume consumption. If you want to follow a significant amount of people, similar to Twitter, it’s not a viable solution.
Preferred Mastodon Instance
I started out at mastodon.social. Next, I setup my own private instance and quickly realized I didn’t need the extra work. After some research and suggestions form others, I decided to move to one of the only instances I could find that includes a monetization plan. Social.lol, powered by OMG.lol. Now’s a good time to take a minute and follow me on Mastodon.
I’m currently using a few beta apps for Mastodon, but am most excited about Ivory.
I’ve gone back and forth about whether I want to truly replace Instagram. After all, I can simply post photos to my blog. I’ve experimented with Glass, but that’s not exactly what I want. Pixelfed has a different approach that seems intriguing, but I don’t see myself posting there often as of now.
For now, I’m just leaving this open.
The Wrap Up
- I have a blog, powered by Micro.blog ($5/mo)
- It crossposts to Twitter (where I can fully interact)
- It also crossposts to Mastodon (where I can fully interact)
Micro.blog’s built in Mastodon support can do this, and there are third party services (Bridgy, etc) that attempt it. But, in my experience, they are limited at best. ↩︎
How to Show Micro.blog Bookshelf on Any Page
If you’re using Micro.blog and the accompanying Bookshelves feature, you can show a book (or selection of books) on any page of your site. Use the code below and follow the directions to get started. See my home page for a live example.
Have questions? Let me know in the comments.
- Copy and paste it into your theme
currentlyreadingto the name of your selected bookshelf
- Style using
cssto your heart’s content
Notes About Taking Notes
Thanks to a short post (and a long thread of comments), I decided to re-think how I capture daily notes. I’m hardly a heavy note-taker, but I do have times when they’re needed.
- Weekly Executive Staff Meeting
- Monthly All-Hands Staff Meeting
- Desktop Scratchpad
- Everyday Notes
- Digital Notes
- Bonus: Writing (Pens)
Let’s take each one of those individually. But first a heads-up…you’ll notice one product line keeps popping up.
Weekly Executive Staff Meeting
This is an informal touching base type of meeting. There’s almost always something for me to write down, but rarely more than a few lines. In the past, I’ve used a variety of Rhodia notebooks, but I was looking for something nicer and more consistent.
Result: Studio Neat Standard Totebook
Monthly All-Hands Staff Meeting
This meeting is much more involved and frequently requires more notes. Fortunately, it’s something that the same notebook can easily handle.
Result: Studio Neat Standard Totebook
While I’m working, I jot down things throughout the day. It could be reminders, a checklist, an idea, a quick sketch, etc. No limits. I’m not making any changes here, as I’ve been using the same thing for a couple years. It’s the product that first turned me on to Studio Neat. A relationship was born!
Result: Studio Neat Panobook
This will be the biggest change for me going forward. Over the years, I’ve tried out a lot of products. While I do like Field Notes, they just wear down quickly for me. Maybe I’m rougher than others? Maybe it’s the hot/humid climate where I live?
In any case, I’ve decided to test a few products going forward:
- Yamamoto Notebook
- Rhodia Pocket Size Notebook
- Life Noble Notebook
- Studio Neat Mini Totebook (obviously)
I’m confident one of those will work.
There’s no avoiding digital notes for me. I have a large quantity of shared notes with family and co-workers. Beyond that, there are times when having a digital note just makes the most sense (for ease of access or longterm storage).
I’ve tried almost every note taking app ever imagined. Obsidian? Not for me. Same for Notion and Workflowy and Minimal and Bear, etc. The list is endless. So where have I landed?
Result: Apple Notes
There’s one other critical element to note taking. You have to have a writing tool! While I enjoy a nice fountain pen, I’m not the type to care and clean for them well enough to stick with the high end ones. These are the pens I use the most.
- Meetings/Etc: Uni-ball Signo UM-151 0.38 with Blue/Black Ink
- Desk: Studio Neat Mark One
- Carry: Studio Neat Mark Two
- Alternate Desk: Lamy Safari Rollerball
- Fountain Pen: Lamy Safari Fountain Pen
- Pencil: Uni Kuru Toga Roulette
I’m pretty happy with where I’ve landed so far. I’m sure there are improvements that can be made. It may surprise you to know I’m interested in trying out the Studio Neat Mark Three Pencil.
One product I would love to have that I’ve been unable to find is a proper note taking index-style card. My desires would be 3”x5” (or 4”x6”), subtle dot grid, medium weight paper, double sided. Maybe I can get Studio Neat to make it?
GoRuck GR2 26L
I’ve always been a believer in having a nice bag when possible. Often times, people put thousands of dollars of equipment (laptop, phone, iPad, Kindle, chargers, adapters, batteries, cameras, books, etc) in a $40 bargain basement bag. It just doesn’t make sense!
There are many solid options in a variety of price ranges. Today, I’m going to take a quick look at the GoRuck GR2 26L.
These bags are almost indestructible. They’re frequently used by ruckers (hence the name), soldiers, and the like. I am none of those things. In fact, my primary use cases for the bag revolves around daily office use and light travel.
You can find countless reviews on the durability and functions of such a bag, so I’m gonna skip past all that. I’ll simply try to answer the question: Does it work for me?
The Good Things
It’s built to last a lifetime. I won’t get into the material specifics, but you can rest assured that it’ll handle whatever you throw at it. It has a lay-flat opening for the main compartments that I love. This is especially great for travel. Accessing what’s on the bottom of the bag is as easy as getting what’s on the top.
The laptop compartment is well built, close to your back, and out of the way of other things. The straps are perfect once they’ve broken in (they’re a little stiff initially). Unlike other GoRuck Bags, this one offers a good bit of organization.
Lastly, it looks and fits well on a variety of people. Here’s how it looks on me (6'3"):
Here’s how it looks on my wife (5'4"):
The Lesser Things
Honestly, there are no true negatives. It can be a little rough on some shirts if you wear it all day, but that’s the nature of these types of bags. Accessing the laptop can be annoying if it’s something you do multiple times per day.
The biggest drawback to these bags is the price. At almost $400 for a new one, you might think twice. However, this is a case of “you get what you pay for.” It really can be the last bag you buy.
How to Ship
Ben Brooks at Brooks Review (link is behind a paywall) recently posted some tips for shipping items. I do a lot of the same things he does but with a few slight differences.
My process is the best cheap/easy combination I’ve been able to find.
PayPal has a solid built-in integration with Shipstation, but you have to jump through a few hoops from time to time to make it work (particularly if you don't use Goods & Service or Purchase Protection). I think what I use is better, PayPal or not.
The most important part of the process is using Pirate Ship. You create a free account and don’t have to worry about any extra fees. The only money they make is through their partnerships with USPS and UPS. Because of that, they have the cheapest shipping rates you’ll find..
Pirate Ship also has the easiest and most straightforward process for getting from I’ve packed the box to the label is on and it’s ready to drop off.
Here are the products to have on hand:
- Half Sheet Shipping Labels - Buy a bunch and use them for years.
- Package Filler
- The Best Tape & Dispenser - Shipping tape can be such a hassle to deal with. This tape is strong enough and the dispensers are best in class (you never have to find the end of the tape.
- Small Bubble Mailers
- Large Bubble Mailers
- Save Small Boxes - Recycle all of those smaller Amazon, etc boxes you get.
- Mail Scale - Knowing the correct weight will save you time and money.
- Measuring Tape - Any measuring tape will do, but having one of these makes it so much easier.
I ship a lot of things, so I bought one of these roller carts from Target (IKEA has a similar one) to use as a mobile shipping station.
Lastly, if you live in an area that doesn’t have restrictions on the types of mailboxes you can have, I suggest grabbing one of these monsters. It’ll help you save countless trips to the post office, and your mailman will love you too.
Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links for products I use and recommend.
Calm before the hurricane.
A quiet beach getaway with @kalena.