My blog

Blog Tinkering

I did a bit tinkering with the blog to update it for the theme change and to revise the sadly dated About page. The big change visually was to make the footer more compact and to add my Creative Commons license grant at the bottom. The CC grant is a carry over from the old theme.

About revised.

The second thing I did was to revise the About page. It was sadly out of date so I revised it to reflect what I was doing with the blog now. It really changed its mission after I retired. Now I write mostly about hobby-related topics but try to write about them in ways that are different from the more common content on commercial sites and YouTube channels. I try to fill in the gaps between product announcements and detailed procedural guides.

  • Why use this at home?
  • How to use this at home?
  • Why do I have this gadget?
  • How does it fit my goals?
  • What did I consider when I chose this particular gadget?

Menus revised

The third thing I did was to fix the menus. They were just plain boneheaded. All of the site content is now in posts assigned to categories. This is deliberate so I don’t have to maintain a page tree of static content. You can find things using the site search and categories. The “Menu” is really just a list of the high count categories that WordPress generated for me. It is static though so if I start writing about budgies (parakeets) a lot, I’ll have to add a menu link for the topic. What the menu does is to filter the posts appearing on the home page to those in the category.

My blog Site changes

A New Look and a New URL

I’ve used for the blog since I retired. After using the Dismal Manor story on Twitter for a couple of years, I decided to rebrand the blog to be consistent with the dog’s Twitter presence. So I registered and changed from the 2014 theme to the 2020 theme which works better with the new WordPress block editor and has a cleaner layout on phones, tablets, and large and small home displays.

The blog remains under the management of Retired Moocher Dave, alias, The Dismal Wizard. We call our corner of the 757 the Dismal Regions and our residence is variously Camp Dismal in the summer or Dismal Manor in the winter and during hurricanes and thunderstorms.

My blog

Blog Makeover

While porting to WordPress, I learned about WordPress short codes. Short codes are magic strings that cause WordPress to insert content in a post or page.




As I began writing the blog, I had a bit of a dilemma: where did I put something? If it was a blog post, it disappeared into the archive after a few posts. If I made a page, the material never appeared on the front page. I encountered this first when I decided to torment my aunts with the Yankee Greens recipe. I needed to keep it around so I could make it again.

WordPress offers a solution

You can assign a post to a category. WordPress can retrieve posts by category. There’s a widget for that in the primary sidebar to the left. But did you know that WordPress can insert stuff into posts for you? Well, It can.

WordPress short codes let you do this. Short codes are magic strings inside square brackets that tell a WordPress plugin to do something for you. One of the things it can do is display posts that match a criterion like “Category”. Interestingly, I had been assigning my posts to categories.

WordPress plugins make short codes available. With luck, the plugin’s documentation describes the short codes that it offers and explains how to use each. The reference provides a list of of short codes available in a site with links to the user instructions for short code.

The display posts short code plugin causes WordPress to retrieve a list of posts by category that it inserts into the post or page. Short code arguments tell the display posts plugin what to retrieve, how many to retrieve, and how to format the results. Problem solved. Write a page that pulls post excerpts by category. Now I had a page with abstracts of each post assigned to the category.

Other short codes let you interact with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others. You can have a lot of fun amazing your friends with creative use of short codes in pages, posts, and text widgets.

New Navigation

As I began making new top level pages for each category I wanted to feature, I discovered that I had way too many of them for the main menu. So I made a page about the Moocher’s interests and made the category pages subpages of it. Now folks can find stuff I think is important that I’ve buried in the the compost heap of the blog.

My blog

Blogs I follow

This New Years Day I decided that I should list some of the blogs that I follow on my blog. The list is somewhat eclectic including some interest blogs and some friends.

Blue Virginia

Blue Virginia is a blog about Virginia politics written from a democratic or progressive point of view. It is a good source of news about the doings of the Virginia Commonwealth legislature and the state officers. This blog does not have many kind words for the Virginia Republican Party or the national Republican Party. Sorry about that.

Energy From Thorium

Kirk Sorensen, former NASA engineer working on power systems for space exploration, writes this blog. Kirk Sorensen is an engaging speaker and an engineer’s engineer. He left NASA to form FLIBE Energy, a start-up company working on development of the thorium fuel cycle and molten salt liquid fuel reactor development.

This is an important future energy technology that can be taken commercial over the next decade. Because the fuel is molten, the reactor has already had a meltdown. It is designed to work that way. Because molten salts are extremely stable, there is no danger of a fire or other processes that would disperse spilled fuel. And because of the choice of fuel, U233, no bomb suitable isotopes are formed and the reactor transmutes long lived isotopes. Spent LFTR fuel need be stored for only 100 years or so for radiation to decay to background levels.

Dick and Libby

Dick and Libby Mills are retired friends cruising the US east coast, Great Lakes, St Lawrence Seaway, and US Gulf coast. Dick is a former power engineer holding key patents for overspeed protection of utility scale steam turbine generators. Dick was also a pioneering developer of nuclear power plant operator training simulators working on the Dresden I simulator while at GE. Dick’s last gig before retiring was as energy management system manager for the New York Power Authority, the New York State independent system operator responsible for distributing electric power within the state.

Adrenaline Racing

A fraternity brother (50-ish) is a world class dingy sailor ranked in International 14 boats. Kirk competes at the national level and is ranked in the top 20 or so sailors in the class. In 2014 he and some mates bought Adrenaline, refitted her, learned to sail off shore, learned race planning, and raced the boat in the 2015 Transpac. The blog is about their adventures in the 2015 race.

Bella and Friends

Samantha Whiting in Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK — the middle kingdom, writes this blog from the point of view of Sam’s BellaBob, her greyhound. Sam does a good job — keeping it simple, staying in character (mostly), and never lapses into bad dialect. Great fun teasing BB on Facebook where she has a pet page. BellaBob is famous for her doggerel. And silly selfies. And Charlie the Yorkie Terrier and Miffy the scratchy cat.