I have a nearly-full slate of articles to discuss for our twentieth edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal. As usual, we covered various unrelated subjects in our weekly content.
Last week, I mentioned that I was considering switching from Tinyletter to Buttondown to send newsletters. I did not have time to test Buttondown in the past week, so I will use Tinyletter for at least one more week. I will provide an update in the 21st next Sunday.
Yesterday, Victor returned with an article after a long hiatus. He . You will find an external link in the first paragraph of the article pointing to their recording on SoundCloud. In the text, Victor explains that he and his father had thought, based on the song, that Johnny Cash actually served time behind bars. As Victor discovered, however, the only time Johnny Cash visited prisons was to perform shows for inmates. Credit to Gurbo and Caserta for what is one of the more humorous images to appear in
After taking Monday off from full article posting, I published an that I took in November 2018. This golden maple leaf managed to find its way to my Juliet balcony, and I staged a picture of it before it shriveled, as fallen leaves tend to do. Fun bonus fact: I performed a reverse-image search of my picture using Google and all of the results returned were of leaves actually made with gold. That amused me.
For Wednesday's post, . The topic this time was White Day, a Japanese commercial holiday that occurs in March 14. In Japan, women give presents on February 14, and men return the favor on March 14. The dialogue involves Justin explaining to Justina why her boyfriend owes her a present on March 14, notwithstanding the fact that they are not in Japan.
My Thursday post was based on an interesting find. Lacking a ready-made article, I searched through old magazines on for a topic. I in an 1896 issue of The poem was authored by the then-editor of Margaret E. Sangster, who was also a well-known poet in her day. Her poetic ode to Washington is simple, but I found its unabashed praise for Washington and his many virtues to be refreshing.
On Friday, . One day, while walking down the street, I head a young lady say "Like... and like... yeah..." before giggling. No laughing matter, as I explain in my post.
Finally, I just published our tenth Around the Web article. Today's topic was inspired by decision to ban Australian news outlets in response to proposed legislation in Australia. Rather than focus on the debate over Facebook's measures, however, I make the case with ample external resources that discerning news and information consumers should not rely on or similar services that treat them as products. What's the better way? I suggest RSS feeds, supplemented by a bookmarking service.
At the top, I noted that I still have to test the Buttondown newsletter provider before deploying it here at That is just one thing on my to-test list.
I bought a cheap video capture card. In theory, this will allow me to capture video on my computer from any device that uses HDMI output. If it works well, I will use it to record the that I am having with Victor. Speaking of which, I should really work on my team for that...
I started testing an interesting Goodreads alternative called Inventaire this week. Like Goodreads, Inventaire allows users to maintain an online catalogue of their book collections. Unlike Goodreads, Inventaire does not have book ratings and reviews. Instead, its focus is on sharing and lending books. I am not too interested in the sharing and lending aspect, but I am interested in the fact that Inventaire is open source and privacy-friendly. I just started manually inputting my library after discovering that Goodreads tends to not record ISBNs for ebooks. Inventaire looks sleek, and I am still learning the features. You can expect a review somewhere down the line. I .
Speaking of books, I am starting to use my Pocketbook Color more. Pocketbook is the third largest e-ink ebook manufacturer in the world behind Amazon and Kobo, and it is the only one that currently provides a color e-reader. I set up my Adobe Digitals account on the Pocketbook so I can read DRM-protected books, and it worked flawlessly with an ebook I purchased from the Kobo store. Pocketbook Color will be another review project down the line - as I mentioned in an earlier newsletter.
I am working with Victor to test two very interesting peer-to-peer social networking platforms - Patchwork and Manyverse. Both of these platforms are built atop an oddly-named protocol called Secure Scuttlebutt. They can be used in such a manner wherein the only people who can see your account at all are those with whom you exchange contact information. Interesting concept, but we still need to figure out if we can connect the desktop version (Patchwork) to the mobile version (Manyverse). We will have a review of one or both at some point in the future.
Finally, I have a couple of ongoing game review projects. First, I am close to completing my review of Flood of Tears, a little-known indie Japanese visual novel from 2001. Before I complete the review, however, I want to contact the translators to see if I can obtain a copy of the short article they wrote about the project in 2006. That article is no longer online, and I was not able to retrieve it through using the Wayback Machine. Second, I will work on a review of an American visual novel that I played many years ago - Save the Date. Save the Date is an odd one, but it left more than enough of an impression for me to want to play it again and share it with you. As an added benefit, Save the Date is easy to download, whereas procuring the Flood of Tears torrent these days is a bit hit or miss - I was probably lucky to download a copy after about 48 hours.
Thank you, as always, for subscribing and reading. You can expect a relatively short newsletter next week since I will publish our month in review post on Sunday. For that reason, I may move next week's Around the Web post to Saturday.
Happy Valentine's Day to our beloved Newsletter Leaf Journal subscribers. Today I will lead off with some news about the newsletter before diving into our articles from the week that was and brief site update news and concluding with news about site additions and improvements.
I am considering switching our newsletter service from Tiny Letter to a provider called Buttondown. The earliest I would send from Buttondown would be February 28. In the interim, I will test Buttondown on my own to ensure that it will work. I am considering the switch because it appears to have a superior editor to Tiny Letter and also has good privacy practices and values. If I switch, you will continue receiving the newsletter without interruption. I will provide an update next week if I am going ahead with the change for February 28.
I published one article every day since the last newsletter. Because the last two articles were Valentine's themed, let us work backwards since it is Valentine's Day.
I published an article this morning about my greatest (or sole great) photo-journalistic accomplishment - . I had taken these pictures in 2015, but decided last year to sit on them for the proper occasion. What better time could there be to publish the squirrel romance story than Valentine's Day? In the post, you will also learn how the pictures almost fell victim to a corrupted SD card.
Yesterday, I comparing and combining two old English-language summaries of the classic Noh drama, Takasago. Takasago is a traditional Japanese play about two lovers who met under an evergreen pine tree, and spent their blissful evenings laughing together on a couch of pine needles. They died in old age after a long life together, but they were allowed to return to that pine tree every full moon in recognition of a life together lived well.
I published one other love-themed article this week, the first . I found that LoveChoice has very charming and aesthetic art, and its story shines through its somewhat clunky English localization. LoveChoice is not without its flaws, but its merits and low price of $1.99 - earned it my recommendation.
On Friday, I followed up last week's article about with an . I would not have thought to write an article about Iroha Isshiki's hair color if not for the fact that I had just read about real hair color issues in Japan. Nevertheless, it ended up being an interesting project.
It would not have been a week at without bird content. On Wednesday, I continued by review of the birds from the January 1897 issue of with . The next day, I posted a reaching for a natural snack, despite the pigeon's being a bit too heavy for his or her plant-perch.
I conclude with my first article of the week - a that I photographed in August 2008. With all the winter around us, I thought it would be good for a brief summer respite.
Astute readers may notice that I reorganized our site's sidebar area - this should appear beneath the content for mobile readers. We now have a microblog. Why a microblog? (For reference - think of something like a Twitter, but on your own website.)
A few weeks ago, I read an , the founder of Wikipedia, calling for a WordPress microblogging solution. His arguments are sound, and I referenced them favorably in a .
Mr. Sanger noted that the one dedicated microblogging plugin in the WordPress repository has not been updated for a decade - meaning that it is effectively dead. Furthermore, try as he may, he could not find a good modern solution. I looked too, and I agree with Mr. Sanger.
I am following Mr. Sanger's project to create a new microblogging plugin, and I look forward to seeing if it may fit in However, that project does not seem imminently close to completion, so I decided to see if there is any way to implement a test microblog on our site. I did discover that there is a way to publish short posts to the sidebar by using something called "Asides," but I quickly concluded that implementing that was beyond the scope of my ability, and I do not have time to learn how to do it.
On a whim, I decided to try the ancient microblogging plugin in the WordPress repository. You can now see the result. It works exactly as it was described more than a decade ago and it formats well in our theme. Furthermore, I have detected no negative effects on our site performance.
The microblog is in testing, and I am still evaluating whether it is compatible enough with our current version of WordPress for all normal purposes. I will keep it for the time being while studying the issue.
does not have article comments enabled. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I don't want comments attached to the articles. Secondly, if you saw the amount of spam we receive in the Guestbook, you would immediately know why I don't want to sift through spam on 200+ articles.
The provides an elegant comment solution. Instead of having comments on every article, all the comments go to one place. Furthermore, people can use the for comments that are not related to a specific article.
When I visited another site that also had a I saw that the admin had posted a field under his article explaining that his site does not use comments, but visitors could submit their comments in his Guestbook instead. I felt rather dumb for not having done that myself. Accordingly, you will now find a link to the under every article.
The past week was a good week for on two counts. To begin, we produced a variety of new content, posting articles every day except Saturday. Second, we achieved our three highest all-time single-day visitor counts on Sunday, Monday, and Saturday. Good signs, to say the least, although we still need more content with search engine hooks. But as the saying goes, content is king. Below, I will review our content from the past week, explain a change in philosophy for our Sunday article recommendations, and conclude with some general news and notes.
I began the week with my sixth bird-in-review article from the this article . I vote for it as the most striking bird we have covered thus far, only rivaled by the resplendent trogon. The content includes quite a bit of external research, so be sure to give it a read if you enjoy learning about our feathered friends. You can expect the seventh bird article sometime this week.
I was not done with bird content this week with the cock-of-the-rock post. On Wednesday, I published an , using an 1880 article from as the prompt. The post examines when and why sparrows were introduced to the American northeast and how they were viewed when they came here. Be sure to take note of the charming story therein about a sparrow family that was unexpectedly taken to sea after two parent sparrows made their nest on a boat.
In between the bird posts, I decided that the readers of might be interested in an explanation of the GameStop and Robin Hood situation. Rather than handle the task myself, I yielded the floor to Justin and Justina for their eighth dialogue post. Instead of explaining "stonks," however, Justin launches into , including his formative meeting with "Blob Dylan." "Blob Dylan"? Is it not Bob? I left that issue for .
After last week's heavy snowfall in New York City, I went around and took some pictures of snowy sites in Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights. You will find on the aftermath of the snow, along with some complaints about e-bikes. I already have another snow article scheduled for the near future, and perhaps there will be more after today's snow-fall.
I published our ninth Sunday recommendation post this morning. For the first eight posts, Victor and I recommended several articles from around the web with brief comments on each. While I like the idea of those posts, one issue for me from a site administrator perspective was that most of them had no clear search engine hook. For that reason, I designated most of them as "no-index," meaning that I told search engines not to list them at all. I pondered the issue and decided that it would be interesting to try something new for our next batch of posts.
Going forward, at least for the today's Sunday recommendation post and the next seven, we will do recommendation posts centered on a specific topic. That is, we will still recommend content from around the web, but all of the content will point to a common idea.
To lead us off, today's Sunday recommendation post is . Many Japanese schools prohibit students from dying their hair. Underlying those rules is the premise that nearly all Japanese students have black hair. This can lead to difficult situations for and misunderstandings about Japanese students and foreign students who have naturally non-black hair. Perversely, some schools forced Japanese students with naturally non-black hair to dye their hair in order to conform to the rationale behind the prohibitions against hair-dying. If you find this confusing, you are not alone. My post examines several articles on the topic and includes an anecdote from my own American high school years.
I will follow up this post with one example from Japanese media of a Japanese character with naturally non-black hair. It's more than possible, rare as it may be.
I do hope you like the new Sunday recommendation format, and I will look for some interesting topics to bring to you over the next couple of months. However, after nine consecutive Sunday posts, the recommendations series will take a break next week. Why? Read on to find out.
Because next Sunday is Valentine's Day, I will work on some Valentine's-themed content for the next two weeks. I have a special post prepared for Valentine's Day based on a series of squirrel photographs I captured a couple of years ago. For now, I will say no more, but be sure to check back with us next Sunday for the heartwarming pictures.
In furtherance of the theme, I am also working on a review of a new visual novel on Steam called LoveChoice. It is short and charming with some wonderful art and music. While it is not without flaws, it was an interesting game to play through. The review should be up sometime this week.
Also in the works for the next two weeks:
Some of those articles will be posted this week. Others may be pushed to the week after. Victor and I will also be working on additional content not listed here. In order to produce more content that may be amenable to search engines, I am also working on some topics for reviews. Over the next few weeks and months, I plan to review the PocketBook Color e-reader and several interesting computer applications.
Thank you for subscribing to and reading I look forward to another week of researching and writing unique content. Until next Sunday.
I covered much of the content that would have otherwise been in this edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal in the January Review post that I published yesterday. For that reason, I will keep today's newsletter brief in order to avoid redundancies. You can see the month in review article for a full recap of this month's content and some things to look forward to in February.
For the I will review our content from the past week and conclude the post with a brief story.
I published five articles this week in addition to the aforementioned January Review post.
I began the week with the . In this piece, Justina expresses her confusion about a blog post I covered in an earlier article recommendations post. Justina understood misery to be the point of big tech social media. Do others understand it differently? While she goes on and on, Justin plays the straight man in the conversation for once.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, I published articles based on recent news stories. First, I published a post on . Second, I published an article about an . I included "Interesting" in the title of the article, so I could not be anything but.
On Friday, I continued my series on birds covered in the January 1897 edition of a bird magazine for children. . Why "parrakeet" instead of "parakeet"? I took a brief digression in the article to study questions about the proper spelling of parakeet.
Finally, I published article this morning. While I cannot say for sure, I am confident that it is the only list of recommended articles that you will read that includes cicadas in New York, roosters in Japan, and natural gas in Turkmenistan.
On January 22, I published an . The other day, I saw a small hawk on the sidewalk in downtown Brooklyn. I did not take a picture for two reasons. First, I did not have my phone or a camera. Second, it flew away with what appeared to be a sparrow in its talon about fifteen seconds after I first saw it. Mark that down as the most unusual thing I've seen in 2021 thus far.
I stumbled on an . Peekier is a privacy-friendly search engine. But unlike other engines, it shows a website preview in its search resorts, allowing users to see an entire page or a large snippet of a page without opening the link. It appears to rely exclusively on search results from Bing. I am interested in writing a full review of it later in February, but I will first contact the team to learn a bit more about how it works. Not to mention - . I think he would be sad if I did not send a few questions.
Thank you as always for subscribing to and reading January was our busiest month by a wide margin, and, as I explain in the January Review post, I am exploring ways to grow the site in the months to come while continuing to post virid content.
N.A. Ferrell -
I sent the fifteenth edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal with a typo in the title. While "Bess" is a name, I meant to say "Bees." I'm no stranger to typos.
Since I switched from Windows to Linux in August, I have had to learn how to do some things in the Linux terminal. Certain actions require root privileges - which means I have to type "sudo" followed by whatever the command is, and then my user password. About 1/4 times I try to type "sudo," I type "sudp" instead. This morning, I tried to start my VPN. The command to automatically connect to the fastest VPN server is sudo protonvpn c -f. I inadvertently tried something new this morning: sudo protonvon c -f. Apparently I can hit "o" instead of "p" just as easily as I hit "p" instead of "o." Terrible stuff.
But I digress. I published content on every day but one this past week, so let us review the week that was and look forward to the week ahead.
This morning, I published our . I led the recommendations up with an update to my . The extension underwent a change in ownership, and it now tracks browsing history by default. I posted the assessment of the extension and referred readers who might be curious or concerned.
I published the fourth entry in my January 1897 bird series yesterday - . While the Golden Pheasant article in the magazine was a bit shorter than the previous bird articles, the Golden Pheasant is no less impressive than the early birds.
On Tuesday, I published a bonus anime series recommendation as article from December. The post looks at the curious case of , a recommendable anime, but one with some baggage from the underlying manga (comic) series. The post also includes an additional anime recommendation with no such baggage - Sweetness and Lighting.
On Wednesday and Thursday, I published two articles about bird photos that I took. The first , Brooklyn. The second covered a . In the falcon post, I reveal that I thought the noble bird was a hawk until I sat down to work on the short article.
Finally, returned to Pixelfed on Monday to . The post explains how you can follow on Pixelfed without making a Pixelfed account. If you do not know what Pixelfed is, .
I still have six bird articles to publish on birds from the January 1897 issued of in addition to a bonus article on two bird poems in the magazine. Unsurprisingly, the project will trickle into February, although you can expect multiple articles for the series this week. If I have time this week, I will publish a book review that I had planned to post last week.
I recently purchased a PocketBook Color e-reader. PocketBook, based in Switzerland, is the world's third-largest producer of e-readers after Amazon and Rakuten. PocketBook's e-readers only recently became available in the United States on Amazon and Newegg. Its Euro-centricity is evinced by the fact that all the book prices in the PocketBook store are displayed in Euros. I have not had time to do too much with it yet, but I will review the e-reader here at in February or March. I can say that the e-ink screen is quite impressive.
Thank you, as always, for following and subscribing to Next Sunday, I will publish our month-in-review post along with our content recommendations, so you can expect a shorter newsletter since much of the content I would cover in the newsletter will be addressed in the month-in-review.
Culminating with today's Sunday content recommendations post, we published new content every day for the last week for the second week in a row. Below, you will find summaries of new content, my idle thoughts, and a preview of what you have to look forward to in the week to come.
The title of this Newsletter succinctly summarizes our content from the past week.
On Monday, that I photographed on the first day of 2021. I have warned about the rotting pumpkin situation time and time again, but not enough people read The New Leaf Journal yet to respond the growing crisis. Alas. The picture looks a bit like a Salvador Dali painting, no?
Having covered a rotting pumpkin that looked like it came from a painting, I decided to cover actual paintings on Friday with , Laura Coombs Hills. I discovered the topic while searching through old magazines on Be sure to check the external links I added to full-color versions of Hills's "Persis Blair" and Helen M. Turner's girl in a green shawl - they are both quite pretty.
My first old magazine piece covered , and his efforts on behalf of his fellow Wisconsin beekepers at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. A niche piece, to be sure, but it is fun to unearth and revive long-forgotten stories and characters from times gone by.
The other three articles from the past week were about birds. I continued my series of articles on the January 1897 issue of with pieces on the and the . The former holds up well in terms of Resplendent Trogon facts, but could have gone without the detailed trogon hunting anecdotes in light of the fact that it was written for children. The Mandarin Duck piece had fewer facts about the duck itself, but it included some interesting information about the Mandarin Duck's place in Chinese culture. That piece too, sadly, included bouts of gratuitous duck violence that calls into question its child-friendliness.
The final bird article was about that I came across in Brooklyn over the summer. What is special about the sign? Well, someone spotted the small bird, and then apparently captured it, in the large and densely covered Brooklyn Bridge Park. No small feat if you ask me.
I noted last week that we are seeing more visitors in January than in previous months. On Thursday, we shattered our previous single-day page view record by 8%. I'm not entirely sure why, but we seem to have done unusually well on Google that day. I continue to be pleased to see that our improvement is coming from organic search, building on a long-term goal I had to not be dependent on social media. With that being said, I am continuing to explore some alternative social media platforms in addition to seeing how we can better make use of our big tech social media accounts in light of the fact that we do not prioritize them for management.
Tomorrow, I will post a short article on how you can follow my Pixelfed account with a feed reader. Pixelfed is just about the only social media platform I've enjoyed using at all - and that is saying something in light of the fact that the only reason I have social media platforms is because of this website. If you are interested in photography and have photos to share, or on a smaller Pixelfed instance. However, since most people have neither the time nor the inclination, I wrote a brief post on how you can keep up with my additional site content without joining Pixelfed. As I will note in the article, I use Pixelfed to post photographs that go with articles along with some additional notes and commentary.
In addition to continuing my bird series, I have planned a book review along with an interesting addendum to my anime recommendations post from late December.
I have mentioned previously on site that I switched from Windows to Linux over the summer. Shortly after building my new computer, I purchased a 1-year subscription to ProtonVPN, a good privacy-friendly and open source VPN provider. I run it without any issue on my desktop and laptop, which both run the Manjaro Linux distribution.
I revived my old desktop computer that had been running sluggishly with Windows 10 with LinuxLite - a possible future article review project. I tried to install all the packages for ProtonVPN, but for some reason, despite following the steps, one is missing. In short, I can't initialize my ProtonVPN profile yet, which means I can't run it on that computer. I'd explain it better but for the fact that I'm really just following directions. Do note that on Linux, we start and stop ProtonVPN from the terminal instead of through a graphical user interface (I use the graphical application on my Android tablet, however).
While I haven't resolved the issue on my LinuxLite desktop yet, there was a silver lining to the struggle. I discovered that I had previously missed that you can set up the VPN profile with an ad blocker at the VPN level. Now, for my ordinary browsing, this makes little difference. I have ad blocking enabled in my Vivaldi browser settings I use the Ublock Origin for extra support. I don't like ads.
It does, however, make a difference for my desktop RSS reader, QuiteRSS. QuiteRSS has a built-in web browser with an ad blocker, but the ad blocker is mediocre. For example, despite having it enabled, I was swamped by a deluge of ads when I tried to read a Washington Times article. For that reason, I would open links from my RSS reader in my regular browser instead of its built-in browser. After enabling ad blocking at the VPN level, I now have no ads at all when I read articles in the QuiteRSS browser. Great improvement.
I will probably write about QuiteRSS and my views on RSS readers in general in the future. But for now, if you'd like to try a nice desktop RSS reader, you can download it from the .
Thank you as always for subscribing to and following I hope you look forward to another week of what I hope will be interesting content.
Cura ut valeas.
The first full week of 2021 was an exciting week for The New Leaf Journal.
To start, it was our busiest week yet. We brought in solid numbers of viewers each day and are making marked progress in our search engine performance.
Second, I implemented a big improvement to the site structure in the form of article series.
Third, and perhaps most important, we published new content each day this week, including our 200th article yesterday.
I don't suppose that you are too interested in learning about our page view counts, so let us instead start with discussing the addition of series to the site and then continue to the new content from the week that was.
I have added series functionality to the site. In short, I can now designate any group of articles as belonging to a series. When you open any individual article in the series, there will be a block in the article (usually at the top). This block does two things. By default, it displays the name of the series, what number the current article is in the series, and a short description of the series. When you interact with the block by clicking on it or tapping it, it will reveal a drop-down menu with a clickable list of all the articles in the series.
Each series has its own archive page. The series pages work the same as our category and tag pages. I have included links to many of these pages in our header menu. If you click on "Article Series," you will be taken to . If you hover over Article Series, you will see a dropdown menu with several featured series.
I have had some complaints that the series box in the article is not entirely intuitive - that is, that it is not clear to all readers that you can find a list of all the articles in the series by clicking on or tapping the series block. I will look into how to make it more intuitive for new visitors.
All in all, I think the new series functionality is a big improvement for the site, and will make it easier to navigate for old and new visitors alike. You can learn more about how I implemented series in my .
I decided to add "RSS" to the header menu. Unlike the other items on the "header menu," RSS has no drop-down menu. Instead, clicking on it takes you to . You can copy the RSS link and add it to your favorite RSS reader to ensure that you are made aware of our articles when they are published.
We published six new articles since the last not including today's edition of our . Victor returned this week, so we each recommended three pieces of content from around the web. I added an internet resource recommendation along with an article from our archive.
Fittingly for a week where I introduced series functionality, I started a new series on the subject of an 1897 bird magazine for children. On Tuesday, of the January 1897 inaugural edition of Yesterday, I published , the first bird that the magazine covered. I went beyond the magazine's own content, including some contemporary resources and a section with interesting dictionary definitions. If you enjoy this article, we still have nine more birds to go in January.
On Friday, I published one of the last articles that I had drafted prior to the official launch of Two years ago to the day I published the article, I discovered something of a video game time capsule, an unfinished round of Mario Party from 17-19 years earlier. Naturally, I finished the game. The from the amusing anecdote.
Victor . Victor makes the case that functioning vintage guitars are not mere cool curiosities. Instead, he lists reasons why they actually sound better than most contemporary instruments. Because I do not know much about guitars, I am more than inclined to take his word for it. Guitar fans will appreciate his photos of a couple of the finer instruments from his collection.
Most of my posts this week were quite long, so I published a bit of a breather-article on Thursday. This , whereby taxpaying Japanese can allocate a certain percentage of their local taxes to the locale of their choice. Most locales offer a gift in return for being designated as a Hometown Tax System beneficiary. One, that I examine in the article, offers to tend to the local grave of the payee's choosing s a way of saying thank you. Quite nice, as I opine in the content.
Finally, , which I noted earlier in the newsletter.
Prior to the start of I drafted just over 20 article ideas. I have used nearly all of them, and the Mario Party post was the last long one in the queue. While I thought about publishing it last year, I decided that it would be fitting to publish it two years after the event that inspired it.
My final version of the article was much longer and more comprehensive than the original draft. Furthermore, as I note in the article, my original draft contained an error that a careful reader would have been able to catch by studying the text and the in-game screenshot. Namely, I stated in my draft that even if I had won the last mini game, I would have still lost in the final standings. It turns out that for somewhat indirect reasons now explained in the article, I would have actually won had I won the last mini game. I caught this error while posting the final picture and preparing to schedule the article for publication. After redoing most of the implicated section, I was able to schedule the article to go live on Friday morning.
I noted in the post that I was in the early stages of recovering from surgery when I discovered the Mario Party adventure. To be sure, that health mishap delayed work on for a few months. But all's well that ends well, I suppose. I ended up getting a long article out of it.
2021 is off to a quick start for with new viewers and our 200th article. I am continuing to work on improving the site structure and finding new ways to reach new audiences. I have been pleased to see our improvement with search engines of late and our relative success on alternative decentralized social media platforms (). I look forward to sharing more new content, and perhaps some site news, next Sunday.
Cura ut valeas.
We have plenty of content and news to cover in the first edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal for 2021. But before that, I hope that everyone is having a happy and healthy start to 2021. As usual, we will begin with a review of our newest content from the past week. After the content review, I will discuss some things I am working on for the site as we start 2021. Finally, I will end with some newsletter-exclusive thoughts on something or other.
closed out 2020 and ushered in 2021 with some of our most unique content yet.
To start, I published an . Rather than just list the articles and provide some dry commentary, I turned the piece into the latest entry in my Justin & Justina dialogue series. They list the top-21 most-read articles (with links) and provide commentary on each. After a postscript, I offer a plan list of the top-25 most-read articles from 2020. Readers of the newsletter may recall that I previewed the top 10 list two weeks ago in As you will see in the final tally, the top 10 changed quite a bit in the last days of 2020. You can use this article to find interesting content that you may have missed dating all the way back to May.
On New Year's Eve, . I had been debating in my head a bit how to handle the month-in-review and year-in-review posts. Should I combine them or do separate posts? If I do separate posts, how do I make them unique? In the end, I opted for a traditional month-in-review post on December 31. This post recaps our December content and previews some things that I am working on for the site. Because only one article published in December made the top-25 most-viewed article list, the pieces ended up not being redundant.
Before continuing, I must note that I think I found a couple of interesting old magazine pictures on for the December 31 and January 1 posts. While I am quite partial to the New Year's picture I used for the 2020 review post, the equestrian etch for December 31 is a unique New Years picture in its own right.
On December 29, . I had planned that post before I wrote my earlier article arguing for 1-to-0 decades instead of 0-to-1 decades, but I assure you that the first article was not self-serving.
For the anime recommendations article, I chose 10 series as primary recommendations and 16 series related to the main recommendations as additional entries. I added screenshots for each of the 10 main recommendations and for two of the additional recommendations. As I explain in the article, the list is not a but rather a selection of anime series from 2011-2020 that I think were very good (or in a couple of cases, great) and that I think might have appeal to a broad audience, including people who do not otherwise watch anime. While I hope that some readers find something new to try and watch from the article, I hope that it will be interesting to browse even for those who do not watch any of the suggestions.
The estimated reading times on the top of our articles are generated by a short-code from one of my WordPress plugins. It spat out for the anime recommendations post. Off the top of my head, I believe that the previous record was 16. One friend made a joke about the 33 minute reading time, noting that he'd read the whole thing. Fortunately, the post comes with a built-in table of contents, so feel free to browse and find the parts that may interest you. Should I have left out the estimated reading time? I think not - honesty is good.
I will say, however, that this article was a colossal pain to format - as might be expected. Of all the annoying parts, the lists under each series were perhaps the worst, especially since I changed the order of the lists and decided to use two types of bullets in each list after I had already drafted them differently. My flashbacks ceased after one day though, so that was good.
I rounded out the week with two short articles based on pictures taken around Brooklyn.
The . Unlike some of my other picture-based-posts, there's a small story to accompany the car-with-antlers content. But most of all, it's an amusing picture.
The first regular article of 2021 is about a unicorn and a collapsed Christmas dinosaur in the snow. This picture had no backstory, but I spent some time discussing various issues. First, I considered why we are seeing so many holiday reptile decorations in Brooklyn. Note that this is my article on having observed one - strange stuff. I'm not just cherry picking pictures. After taking the opportunity to provide internal links to earlier articles that I wrote about fallen things in Brooklyn, I turned to the subject of unicorns. Here, you will find not only my assessment of the unicorn decoration in the snow (positive), but also a clip from the classic about unicorns and a personal anecdote about the majestic mythical equines from 1999. I should have used "majestic mythical equines" in the article, come to think of it...
Earlier today, I published . Because I was working solo this week, I recommended five articles from around the web instead of my usual three (I was quite impressed with the variety in my recommendations), and buttressed the post with one of my favorite and easiest-to-use online dictionaries and an article from our own archives. In the near future, I will have a couple of additional pieces on the online Webster's 1913 dictionary that I discuss in the article, including how to use it with the Calibre e-book reader.
Tabulating the list of our most-read 2020 content was insightful look into what brought readers to in our earliest stages. Three of the top six posts were review posts, with my Pixelfed review topping the list and the Pixelfed review along with my review of a digital artbook for the Persona 4 Golden video game leading the way in December.
Despite the success of these review posts, reviews have made up a very small part of 's diet. This is partially by design - reviews are not among my favorite things to write. But on the flip side, reviews have an obvious hook for search engines when structured correctly, which much of our other content does not. For example, I much more enjoyed writing about one of my favorite scenes in Persona 4 Goldenthan I did reviewing the digital artbook -- which I only reviewed because I wrote about a more interesting and uncommon physical Persona 4 artbook published many years ago -- but it is easier to write a review in a way that people will find it. Furthermore, it is perhaps unsurprising that the digital artbook review spiked in viewership at the same time it went on sale for the holidays.
I have several review project ideas in mind for 2021. First, I want to bundle reviews with commentary pieces. For example, I might review a book, game, or anime series, and then follow that review up with commentary that links back to the review. That was not practicable for the review posts that made our year-end most-read ranking, but it should be for some review ideas I am working on to post this month.
On the whole, I think that I have done a fairly good job with internal linking on the site. I have a good memory of things that I wrote and posted, so it is not difficult for me to refer back to older content in my new posts. However, for posts that may be good candidates for gaining organic search traction, I will think about how they can better guide new visitors to some of our site's more interesting content.
One point I referenced in my December review article was ensuring that the site remains easy to navigate. We will likely eclipse 200 articles around the next I still like the idea of using broad categories (Essays, Musing, Reviews) instead of topic-specific categories, but that does have a tendency to bury older content, especially content that may not have had a full and fair chance to attract notice when the site barely registered on search engines. For that reason, I will work on some structural improvements to the site throughout 2021. One project that I referenced before, but not in the December review, is adding later article links to older related articles as updates ().
Two days ago, I was walking in Carroll Gardens when I chanced upon a severely rotted pumpkin. We are talking a liquefied pumpkin, practically oozing (think Salvador Dali). Long-time readers will know that through the character of Justin in my Justin & Justina dialogue series. Comedy aside, the rotting pumpkins have really gotten out of hand in Brooklyn this year. I have captured a picture of the liquefying pumpkin, and you may find it on sometime this month.
Thank you, as always, for following If you have any thoughts on our content, please tell us in our sadly-lightly-used . If you have any thoughts on the newsletter specifically, you can send feedback as a reply to any of our newsletters. We always send messages from an @newleafjournal address.
Our twelfth newsletter will be our final one for 2020. In this edition, I report on five articles as well as two new platforms on which you can follow our site.
Victor and I worked together to post five articles over the past week.
I began the week on March 21, 2020, with . Morris was a wealthy merchant who relied heavily on his shipping fleet. Toward the end of the War of Independence, the British Navy did away with much of Morris's fleet when it shut down shipping along the Atlantic. While Morris admitted in a letter to a confidant that he lost a great amount of money, he declined to specify how much he lost "as there might be in it an appearance of ostentation." Clever.
Victor took the reins on Tuesday with . Victor and Mr. Caserta covered The Beatles - specifically "With a Little Help From My Friends." The article links to their performance. In the post itself, Victor offers thoughts from a folk musician's perspective on covering songs and gives insight into some of the things that made The Beatles a revolutionary force in music.
On December 23 and Christmas Eve, I posted two articles for the holidays. On December 23, I considered with reference to a 1913 children's story by Maud McKnight Lindsay. For Christmas Eve, I referenced my Santa article in my s. Therein, Justina frets over what to give Justin for Christmas, while Justin refuses to give her any sort of hint. Justina finds giving presents stressful, and Justin considers this struggle part of her personal growth. The dialogue includes three photographs that I took around Brooklyn, which were all incorporated into the story.
Finally, yesterday I published a . I took the photo thinking that it was amusing, but my colleague, Victor V. Gurbo, saw "pure evil." The article includes our first ever in-content poll - what do you think of the snowman?
Finally, you can find the from me and Victor here.
In an effort to reach new readers, I created an account for on Bloglovin'. Bloglovin' is a blog consumption platform that draws posts from a site's RSS feed. While I don't think that it is an essential means of following our site, you can make an account or sign up with a Facebook account if you are interested. You can find page .
We plan to keep to our regular article publishing schedule for the last week of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Of note, I will post a December month-in-review article and an article listing our most-read content from 2020.
One article on the periphery of our ten most-read article lists is fitting for the Christmas season. On July 14, I published before the city fell to the Ottoman Turks. The Roman Emperor, Constantine XI, prayed for the final time at St. Sophia and then asked prelates, one by one, to pardon him if he had ever offended them. One historian wrote: “As a Christian emperor, and as a Christian soldier, he was solemnly, and in the sight of his people, preparing to appear before his God.”
Merry Christmas and happy New Year to all our readers. I look forward to returning with the first newsletter of 2021 next week.
This week saw Winter Storm Gail descend on New York City. With the abundance of snow, I could have hardly passed up the opportunity for seasonal content. Below, I will go over our articles from the past week.
I began the week with a post titled "." Winter officially begins tomorrow, although it decided to start early over the past week. I thought that there was no better way to send autumn 2020 off than with a haiku from one of the masters of the art-form, Kaga no Chiyo. "No autumn colors tint that side of the mountain: a one-sided love." My post includes an aesthetic sketch of Mt. Fuji and additional seasonal thoughts on the haiku.
During the past week, I started and finished Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic children's book, "The Secret Garden." The book inspired my second post, "." I used a passage from early in The Secret Garden (before entrance into said secret garden) to tout the benefits of venturing outside when it's cold. The post may fall flat for readers in warm climates, but walking outside is good and healthy for them too.
Shortly after the snow ceased falling in Brooklyn, I took a walk (per my own advice the day before) to see what things look like. I found, among other things, a snowman built on a planter, an unusual tree-pit plant standing strong in the snow, and Rudolph the Snow-Covered Red-Nosed Reindeer. These scenes are all documented in "."
Trying to avoid slipping on slick surfaces after the heavy snowfall this week reminded me of one chapter of Epictetus's Enchiridion. Therein, the great stoic philosopher advised students to watch their ruling faculties just as carefully as they watch their steps. I posted my discussion of the chapter along with my thoughts about how walking through the snow illustrates Epictetus's advice perfectly in "."
Finally, I posted my fourth entry in the Justin & Justina dialogue series "." The idea came to me the day before when I pulled up the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry for Epictetus to use as an external link reference for readers. I noticed that SEP uses "BCE" and "CE" instead of "BC" and "AD." My views are in accord with Justin's in the dialogue - at least insofar as he argues that "BC" and "AD" are the proper terms, not "BCE" and "CE." What is "common" about this era? Consult "BC" and "AD." I also agree with Justin that it will be hard to recapture Constantinople if people are using "BCE" and "CE," but that's a separate matter.
In the previous newsletter, I noted that Victor and I would post weekly content recommendations from around the web. We did so and . This week, I added a book recommendation from the books I read during the past week - the Tuttle Classics edition of Ryūnosuke Akutagawa's “Rashomon and Other Stories.” The collection includes six short stories and spans just over 120 pages. For 99 cents on Kindle, it is a great value. You can expect to see some references to it here at in the near future. I think this new project is worth keeping, so you can look forward to another set of content recommendations next Sunday.
As , 2020 marks the end of one decade, 2021 marks the start of a new decade. Because a decade is concluding, I took a look at the most-read content of the past decade. Please disregard the fact that our website has only been live for about 8 months. All jokes aside, I will post the list of our most-read articles on site by the end of the month, but I thought that I should offer a preview for the newsletter.
One difficulty in making the list was that I switched from in mid-July. While they count page views similarly (Google had significantly more detail, however), the counts are in separate places. In order to be ready to write my year-end post, I retrieved our pre-July view counts from Google and combined them with Koko.
Below, you will find our top-10 articles in total views but the order and the bottom of the list could shift by the end of the month.
N.A. Ferrell. May 30, 2020.
N.A. Ferrell. August 28, 2020.
N.A. Ferrell. November 13, 2020.
N.A. Ferrell. June 10, 2020.
V. Gurbo. May 6, 2020.
N.A. Ferrell. May 25, 2020.
N.A. Ferrell. June 14, 2020.
N.A. Ferrell. May 24, 2020.
N.A. Ferrell. October 23, 2020.
N.A. Ferrell. October 1, 2020.
In this week's edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal, we bring you news of a new Sunday series of content recommendations and our five articles from the week that was.
Starting today and going forward, we will post content recommendations from around the internet every Sunday. To start, Victor and I are each recommending three off-site pieces of content. Each entry in the series will also feature a link to an older article for your enjoyment. In the future, we may include other recommendations in these posts based such as books, music, or games. You will be able to find all of our Sunday recommendation posts in a new .
Victor and I worked together to post five articles during the past week.
I started the week with our longest article to date, a 4,000 word . With reference to an interesting blog post about fact-checking, I listed problems with the contemporary fact-checking industry. After examining the lay of the land, I offered principles for sound fact-checking.
On Tuesday, I published an between Hadrian (before he became Roman Emperor) and the renowned architect Apollodorus of Damascus. According to the third-century historian of Rome, Cassius Dio, Apollodorus dismissed the young Hadrian's opinions about architecture in a condescending way. Years later, then-Emperor Hadrian finished what Apollodorus started by having him exiled and then executed. Many later historians have come to doubt Cassius Dio's account of Hadrian having Apollodorus executed. Regardless of the fact of the matter, however, it makes for a good story. My article concludes with a separate account of a debate between Hadrian and a sophist philosopher.
On Wednesday, Victor of most "important" Bob Dylan songs by half-decade, from 1960 to the present day. Victor chose 14 songs in all. He suggests that some of his choices may be controversial with fellow Bob Dylan historians. I will leave those surely contentious debates to the experts in the field.
Yesterday, I published a . Although I have few opinions about the works of Mr. Dylan, I did suggest the article topic to Victor. In so doing, I recommended that Victor choose Dylan songs from proper decades - for example, 1961-1970. When we talk about decades in the abstract, the best system is the 1-to-0 system (2011-2020) instead of the more common 0-to-9 system (2010-2019). In any event, Victor started with 1960 and went in six-year intervals with years overlapping in the middle (1960-, -1970). While I would like to classify this as some sort of seismic disagreement, I suspect that Victor just doesn't have strong opinions about the best way to conceive of decades.
Finally, on Friday, I introduced an that Victor and I will have in late January or early February. We each drafted Pokémon teams for the other trainer to use and will spend the next few weeks optimizing them for our battle. My post assumes no prior knowledge of the current Pokémon battling rules and explains each step of what we are doing in some detail. We will publish preview posts and a battle recap after the battle occurs.
My Pokémon draft battle preview post includes the opening scene of a 2019 Christmas-season battle that Victor and I fought last year. My character, Celia, was dressed for the season in a green dress and red sweater. Victor's character, "NIXON" (trainer number 37 ... get it?) was not dressed for the season, but I'm not sure that President NIXON was the type anyway. (See below.)
Victor is not only NIXON in Pokémon Sword, but also in other games. For example, in one of our earliest posts in May, when Apple, one of my Animal Crossing neighbors, told me about a visit she received from "NIXON" of Watergate Town. Apple told me about this visit one evening. When I spoke to Apple the next morning, she was deathly ill. I learned that the question wasn't whether NIXON could go to China, but rather what he might bring back from China. Fortunately, Apple was back to her normal self after I brought her medicine. Although I haven't visited my Animal Crossing town since July, I trust that Apple is doing well, waiting for my return from what must be a very long trip abroad (not to China, definitely not to China).
The Newsletter Leaf Journal has been out of commission since I had an issue sending out the eighth edition in September. I decided to rectify the issue by typing the newsletter directly into the newsletter editor instead of copying it from a text editor, in which I copied paragraphs from a LibreOffice document. Below, you will find some news and notes from The New Leaf Journal as well as my plans for The Newsletter Leaf Journal going forward.
Going forward, I will look to return to a schedule of sending out newsletters every Sunday. On occasion, I may skip a Sunday, but in general, you can expect a newsletter on Sunday afternoons. I will update sign-up page to clearly reflect this system.
Since the last issue of the newsletter, we published at least five articles each week throughout October, November, and this first week of December, except for one week when we published four. For this particular newsletter, I will not recap our content from October and November, but instead refer you to my comprehensive and posts.
Prior to sending this newsletter, Victor and I published four articles to start December - with a long feature article on fact-checking coming out later today.
I began the month by posting an about a tall, modern-looking building, looming over a quaint block in the quiet Brooklyn (NY) neighborhood of Carroll Gardens. The picture for the article was the first that I took with my new Kodak PIXPRO AZ421 camera, which I got once I started to have some issues with my old Nikon D40. It came out a touch fuzzy, but Victor did a good job making it presentable. Although Carroll Gardens itself is not a historic district, my article touches briefly on historic districts in Brooklyn, NY - a topic that I will write more about in the future.
Our second December article was a by Victor of two face-masks with filters. While Victor liked both fancy face-masks, he recommended the HALOmask to his family and to readers. Speaking for myself, I will pass on the HALOmask. The filter sounds cumbersome to me, it is a bit expensive, and were I going somewhere obviously plagued like a hospita emergency room, I would just suffer an N95 mask in place of a plain filter-less cloth mask. But perhaps some mask aficionados among our readership will try the HALOmask. If so, be sure to tell us if you agree with Victor's glowing review in our .
In the third article of the week, I posted a between two characters named "Justin" and "Justina" about how to prepare for a 5% chance of rain. This was my third post, and I expect to write a couple each month. I never really explained the series, but context is overrated - may as well jump right into it. Of note, the article was accompanied by a picture I took of a rainy day in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Shortly after taking the picture, I acquired a couple of interesting items at a local antiques and collectibles store in Carroll Gardens. You will learn about one of those two finds later this month, but in the meantime, you can about buying a canvas with pressed flowers and a butterfly at the same location.
Finally, I posted an article inspired by a remembrance of a friendship. Thomas Sowell, a renowned economist, commentator, and author, wrote a moving remembrance of his friend Walter E. Williams, a fellow economist, commentator, and author, who passed away on December 2. In , I focused on Mr. Sowell's praise of Mr. Williams for keeping his personal opinions out of his classroom at George Mason University, where he taught for many decades, including the day he died. Mr. Sowell's story reminded me of my finest college professor who made a point of teaching what authors conveyed rather than his personal opinions about what authors conveyed.
My new article about Thomas Sowell on Walter Williams was not the first post in which I wrote about Mr. Sowell. On June 30, I commemorated his birthday a passage from one of his books where he argued that a school cannot function in an orderly way if 10% of its students are "hard-core troublemakers." Not only do I agree with Mr. Sowell, but I also think his observation applies outside the walls of the classroom as well.
It has been a while since Victor wrote about music. Now is as good a time as any to revisit on the classic folk ballad, Love Henry. Not only does Victor go into the history of the song with links to nineteenth century literature, but he also includes a video recording of the tune that he performed with fellow musician Mark Caserta. Mr. Carserta set the music to a video of squirrels at play at New York City's famous Greenwood Cemetery. While I am no music video expert, I must say that it is the best visual content for a music video that I ever set eyes upon.
Since I am working on writing newsletters every Sunday, I would rather not have to post a full article as well. This thought reminded me of an idea that I had early in project but had yet to follow through on. Going forward, we will publish a brief digest article every Sunday containing links to interesting articles from around the web. Although we will look for some current links, we may also link to some older internet content. In addition to articles from around the web, I will feature one old article in each post.
Late last month, I published my of Pixelfed.social, a privacy-friendly social media platform that works similarly to Instagram. My experiences with the platform have continued to be positive, and I have seen some evidence that it has directed some readers to Remarkably, our Pixelfed account now has nearly twice as many followers as our Twitter account. I am not sure if this is proof that I am bad at Twitter or good at Pixelfed.
In any event, in the article, I noted that Pixelfed seems to have upload limits, and those limits have, on occasion, prevented me from uploading images for a certain period of time. I observed at the time that I was not sure how the limits worked, especially since some users post large batches of images whereas I post only one image at a time. Now, in order to increase exposure for my account, I periodically go through new posts on Pixelfed and "like" aesthetic and interesting pictures while muting advertising accounts. In so doing, I not only express my approval of good content, but also highlight my profile for those same users to see my pictures. Today, while I was liking pictures, I eventually got an error message similar to the "too many requests" error message. It occurred to me that all interactions with Pixelfed, including likes and shares, seem to contribute to the same issue that limits uploads. I will investigate the issue going forward, and perhaps post a new Pixelfed review down the line when I better understand the platform.
If you are interested in seeing what Pixelfed looks like, you can visit my profile at and Victor's profile at .
Another Sunday means it is time for the eighth edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal. I must admit that last week, I sent our newsletter with Tiny Letter’s default header subject, borrowed from Marc Antony’s famous speech from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. One could be forgiven for thinking that, given some of my past , it was going to be some sort of special Roman-themed newsletter. While I would love to be able to claim credit for such a wonderful idea, it was merely an error that I noticed right after pressing “send,” about three seconds too late.
This week, we continued on our quest to publish at least one article for each day in September, as the month nears its close. I will announce our plans for the forthcoming month in review article on September 30. Suffice it to say, while I have enjoyed the challenge of posting one article each day, I plan to dial back to 5-7 articles per week in October, giving myself the possibility of a couple of days off from posting each day so I have more flexibility to work on new content and perform some site maintenance. For example, I could use some time to finally do away with the Pinterest tracker script that I discussed last week.
Below, I will review our new content since the last newsletter.
Shortly after I sent our newsletter, Victor’s second article of September went live – "." In this post, Victor discussed his participation in a very worthy online fundraiser for the iconic Manhattan music venue – The Bitter End. He contemplated the myriad technical difficulties that transpired at the event, and, while they were frustrating, he concluded that they were not much different than the technical difficulties musicians endure at live performances in more normal times.
On Monday, that I discussed in last week’s newsletter. As I noted above, I have not yet figured out how to implement a solution, but it does seem like it will be something that is within my abilities once I have time to do sit down and do a bit of research.
On Tuesday, I published “.” This is an article for those of you who do not like clickbait headlines. The article is, in fact, about a pigeon on a step. Befitting its name, the article contains two versions of a picture I took of a pigeon on a step. There is good news for you pigeon-on-a-step fans, I do have another, still unpublished picture, of that very pigeon on a step.
On Wednesday, I made up for my short piece on Tuesday with a , who is alleged to have been working as an agent of the Chinese government. Upon reading about the complaint, I learned that Mr. Angwang was admitted to the United States as an asylee, launching him on a path to naturalization in what now appears to have been highly dubious circumstances. In the post, I use my background in immigration law to examine some of the various immigration issues implicated in the complaint.
For the Thursday article, I revisited another topic that I broached in last week’s newsletter. In “,” I give the full story of my Twitter post on “The Great Suspender” chrome extension as used on the Vivaldi web browser, and the string of events that made it our most popular social media content yet. Unsurprisingly, we have not replicated that success, but I do hope that the article brought The New Leaf Journal to the attention of some readers who will keep tabs on our site for future content.
On Friday, I returned to photography with an article titled “.” Many New Yorkers do not realize that the Triborough Bridge, linking northern Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens, is walkable on all of its sections. Last year, I ventured across the entirety of the bridge with a couple of friends. At one point, I was surprised to find a set of stairs in the middle of the pedestrian walkway, not at the beginning or end where you might expect to find them. I took a picture of the peculiar site, which I discussed along with some additional content in my piece.
Finally, I posted a longer article yesterday about the end of one of my favorite anime series, the unwieldly-named “My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU.” The show’s first season came in 2013, and its final and 37th episode aired on Thursday. Rather than review the show or its final episode, which would be difficult to do in a single article, I offered some brief context about the series before examining a quote from the author of the series of underlying lite novels, Wataru Watari, about completing a work that he had spent eight years writing. The entire series covers one year of high school in the lives of the characters, and Mr. Watari stated that with his concluding of the series, he could finally close the book on his own second year of high school, “the longest year of my life.” You can read more in “.”
As I note in the article on the end of My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, the second season of the show ended five years ago. Worse yet, it ended in the middle of an important conversation that promised to set in motion the events for the final season. It was never entirely clear whether the show would receive a proper conclusion, whether Mr. Watari himself would finish the novels, or whether Mr. Watari would end his story and/or the show in medias res. I had been fine with the prospect of the show never receiving a full conclusion, given the quality of the second season, but I was nevertheless happy to hear that it would indeed get a final season. You can imagine that my feelings toward the Chinese Communist Party – – became colder when the final season was delayed by several weeks. A truism that I have held in my heart since my own high school years – commies ruin everything.
The final season was not perfect. Parts of it felt a bit rushed in anime form, which was a minor issue in the latter few episodes of the second season. Whether it was Crunchyroll’s sometimes inconsistent English subtitle writers or the source material itself, some important lines were perhaps not as smooth as they could have been. But in the end, Mr. Watari boldly delivered a decisive ending for the main characters, treating those fictional characters he seems to have cared deeply for in the humane manner he had throughout the series. The penultimate episode of the final season was the finest of the entire series, and the last episode delivered a sort of catharsis for the entire cast that too many works try and fail at achieving. Despite some bumps in the road, the final season was wholly satisfactory, and well worth the long wait.
As for my statement that I will examine the season in more detail down the line, I am planning to write a piece about some of my favorite anime series from the last decade in December. I say decade because the real decade is 2011-2020, not 2010-2019, lest someone can find the mysterious “year 0.” I zig where everyone zags, and this will conveniently allow me to write some decade-in-review posts that I could not last year, for The New Leaf Journal was still in seed form.
In the meantime, however, I will focus on writing more content and reviews about books, and I have a special series of non-book-review-review pieces slated for October, to be announced in my September 30 month in review post on Wednesday.
The last week was another busy week for The New Leaf Journal as we continue to publish one article each day, inching closer to completing our September project. Below, I will review each of our articles from the past week and recount two social media stories, one good and one bad, that you will likely see covered on site in the near future.
I began the new week last Sunday with an . I took the picture perhaps an hour before taking the Roosevelt Island tram to Manhattan, which afflicted upon me a severe case of vertigo. But it was a nice picture, subsequent vertigo aside.
On Monday, I published a brief , on my formerly Windows 10 laptop. After fighting for a few hours, I was saved by an expert post on the Peppermint OS forum, and now have the operating system up and running on my laptop. Thus far, my impressions from using it have been highly positive, and I look forward to writing a fuller review of my experiences in the next month or so.
On Tuesday, I moved from technology to the law, publishing an where a district court judge refused to follow a decision from above directing her to re-sentence a gentleman who had downloaded copious amounts of child pornography more harshly. Having to deal with the issue for a second time, the Sixth Circuit again reversed the district court judge and ordered the case to be reassigned on remand in a precedent decision.
On Wednesday, I . I had written the strange piece many years ago for a prior iteration of “The Emu” project, and being pressed for time that day, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to publish it in the current version of The Emu.
On Thursday, I celebrated Constitution Day with a . Special thanks to the Heritage Foundation’s guide to the Constitution for the idea for this article.
On Friday and Saturday, I published two articles based on nineteenth century British magazines. The dealt with gardening and royalty, recounting the story of an encounter between Lysander and Cyrus the Younger. We hope to in Cyrus’ beautiful garden, wherein Lysander learned that the impeccably dressed royal before him had not only planned the garden itself but undertaken much of the labor to make those plans a reality. Next, .
In the interest of ending on a high note, let us begin with the bad social media story. Today, I discovered that there is a mysterious Pinterest tracking script on our site homepage: “assets.pinterest.com.” I am still not sure how this script became embedded in our site, for I did not make any substantive changes in recent weeks that would have invited it, but it is having a somewhat negative effect on our homepage loading time. Furthermore, I do not want any third-party tracker scripts on our site, much less from social media services. The script does appear to be linked to Pinterest sharing, so I have deleted all of our social sharing buttons and out-going social links on the homepage for the time being. At the moment, the script appears to only load on our homepage, and not any other pages on site. If you use a Chromium-based web browser (e.g., Chromium, Chrome, Vivaldi, Edge, or Opera) or Firefox, I highly recommend installing the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “Privacy Badger” extension to block annoying trackers such as this one. I am looking into the situation and hope to figure out how to remove this harmless-but-annoying tracker in the near future.
Ending on a better note, I recently . In that post, I noted that I had tested it with the Vivaldi web browser. I expected that post to garner as little interest as nearly all of my Twitter posts, but to my surprise, Tor Odland, the Chief Marketing Officer for Vivaldi, read the post and decided to try the extension. After trying the extension, he found it useful – noting that it added advanced functionality to Vivaldi beyond what Vivaldi has built in, and he said he would keep tinkering with it. Vivaldi’s official account then shared the post and, as a result, the post has been viewed more than 4,000 times thus far, with a very small percentage of those people reading the associated article. Even that small percentage was enough to make Thursday the most-trafficked day at The New Leaf Journal. While that was perhaps an aberration, it stands to show that you never know what kind of content will be most useful. I still use both Vivaldi and The Great Suspender on all three of my computers, and I highly recommend both free products.
Thank you, as always, for reading The New Leaf Journal. Over the next week, I will work on fixing our tracker/speed issues and continuing to post interesting content each day. We hope to draw more viewers without an assist from the people behind my favorite web browser. If you are reading this post from our newsletter archive, please consider signing up for our newsletter so you can have The Newsletter Leaf Journal delivered to your preferred email inbox every Sunday.
With another week in the books, it is time for the sixth edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal. Below, I will look back on the week that was and preview some things that we have in the works for the week to come.
On September 10, Victor published our 100th New Leaf Journal article – “” Victor, prompted by a comment from his mother, decided to test whether his beloved 17-year old cat, Pumpkin, is deaf. While his experiments yielded inconclusive results, you can discover which way Victor is leaning in his humorous post.
Yesterday, I looked back on the first 100 articles at The New Leaf Journal in a special post – “.” To commemorate the occasion, I picked a mix of articles to highlight from our first four months and change.
In between those posts, I wrote an article reflecting on the 19th anniversary of the Islamist terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington D.C, and Pennsylvania in “.” This September 11th brought welcome news in the form of the announcement of the normalization of ties between Israel and Bahrain. I express my hope that some of the positive changes we are seeing in the Arab world will help ensure a safer tomorrow.
Circling back to the beginning of the week, my first article after the fifth Newsletter Leaf Journal discussed an interesting canvas that I purchased at a local antique store. The content, “,” features my first scanned picture for The New Leaf Journal. I was a bit worried that the canvas would be too thick for the scanner to close, but I will say that the scan cane out rather nicely.
On the next day, I published “,” which covered my discovering that house centipedes should be welcomed for their tendency to hunt more unwelcome creepy crawlers. After explaining how I learned this, I offer the horrifying story of witnessing a house centipede-roach standoff in my kitchen a few months ago. Spoiler: I intervened to end the standoff. About two-three days after I published the article, I saw a house centipede scurrying across my ceiling. True to the lessons learned, I thanked it for its patrol and returned to what I was doing.
On September 9, I published an article about a classic New York Post headline from nearly one year ago: “.” What kind of “killer hallucinogenic weed” was the New York Post referring to? I was curious enough to click their headline, so you will have to click mine to find out. The article features a picture of the New York Post’s printing facility in the Bronx that I took in the summer of 2019.
Finally, on September 8, I published an article about learning how to change our Twitter handle. I would personally say this was the least interesting article of the bunch, but in the past, some of my articles complaining about Twitter have done surprisingly well. What do I know, in the end? You can find this article with a brief guide to Twitter handles and some more complaints about how terrible Twitter is at “.”
As I discussed in , my work computer runs Manjaro Linux instead of Windows. Early in The New Leaf Journal, . The Texas Instruments program for taking screen captures is Windows-only, but I was able to run it on Linux through Wine, a compatibility layer for Windows programs that I still do not know how to use well. Since I could run the program, I decided to try plugging my TI-89 into the computer to see if I could take a capture. Sadly, while I can run the TI-89 program, my computer did not recognize that my calculator was plugged in at all. Having already taken the time to type a title card for our 100th article celebration, I used my old laptop, which still runs Windows 10, to take the screen capture.
Although it is a small thing, I would like to see if it is possible to make my Linux desktop recognize the TI-89. When I have some spare time, I will investigate. Perhaps an article will spring forth from the investigation?
Since I have a couple of work deadlines approaching on September 16, my next few articles may be relatively light fare until my schedule is more clear – although I will still work with Victor to ensure that we post at least one new article each day, as we have done from September 1-12. While I do not know exactly what I will post this week, I will highlight some projects that we are working on.
Last week, I noted that I am preparing a piece on my color-changing mouse. I still want to test a few things regarding the mouse’s Windows-only utilities before publishing, but that article is otherwise almost ready to go.
Continuing with the computer theme, I revived my old desktop computer by installing a different flavor of Linux on it as its operating system – Linux Lite. Since I discussed my old computer briefly in my article about building a new computer, I am working on a piece about giving my old computer new life with a light and user-friendly version of Linux.
Finally, on my end, I am working on some new review content regarding free books and games. I figure that just about everyone likes free things that are good, so I will start covering more of them at The New Leaf Journal. Those of you who use Chromium-based web browsers (e.g., Chrome, Chromium, Vivaldi, Opera, new Microsoft Edge) may find worth a look.
Victor is hard at work learning how to use the game-making software RPG Maker MV so we can make progress on a game-development project. I recommended that he give the program a try after I saw his obsessive compulsive disorder at work in Animal Crossing, At some point in the near future, we will be able to write a bit more about it and make game prototypes available for download.
Thank you as always for following The New Leaf Journal. If you are reading this from our newsletter archive, please consider signing up to receive site updates from us in your mailbox. I look forward to reporting back to you next Sunday.
After a somewhat slow August, I made two announcements in last week’s August 2020 Review post. First, I stated that we would work to publish one piece of content every day in September. Through the first 5 days of September, we posted one piece of content on four days and two pieces of content on the fifth day, so I suppose that this plan is going better than promised thus far. Second, I stated that we would make sure to send out one edition of every Sunday. This newsletter, our first since August 16, is the first step to fulfilling that aspect of the September plan for .
Of course, with all that being said, strives to produce quality content. Below, I will briefly go over some of our content from the past week, and I include some things to look forward to over the next week at . To catch up on our best content from August, please see .
I began September with two posts about things seen around Brooklyn. We kicked off September with “.” The content is more or less as advertised by the title – it is indeed about a large Brooklyn Heights tree that was brought down by high winds on August 3. The post includes several pictures of the fallen tree and the aftermath. My second photo-journalist post, “,” covers a pigeon walking in a puddle, and then drinking from said puddle, on a rainy day in Brooklyn. This event is documented not only through my recollections, but also through three photos.
Shortly after posting my pigeon-puddle expose, I realized that it was the 75th V-J Day. Not wanting to let the important occasion pass without mention, I searched for a video of the proceedings aboard the USS Missouri on archive.org. However, instead of going with a video, I embedded in our post a 48-hour radio news recording from the day, featuring speeches by General Douglas MacArthur, Admiral Chester Nimitz, and President Harry Truman. Having listened to the entire recording myself, I assure you that it is well-worth your time. While listening, you can also read my thoughts on the historic day in “.”
One day later, I posted an article documenting how I found and installed the current WordPress theme for The New Leaf Journal – BunnyPress. Long time readers will remember that the site used the free version of the BunnyPress theme – BunnyPressLite – for most of May and part of June. In this article, I discuss the difficulty Victor and I had purchasing the BunnyPress theme from the developer’s entirely Japanese-language website. With that difficulty aside, however, installing and configuring BunnyPress turned out to be effortless, and I have been very satisfied with how the theme has worked for our site. You can learn about navigating Japanese-language websites without knowing Japanese and a bit about running a WordPress website in “.”
Back in May, I wrote an article commemorating the sad anniversary of the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. That post covered the heroism of the last Roman Emperor, Constantine XI. September 4 marks the anniversary of the fall of the Western Roman Empire nearly 1,000 years before the collapse of the longer-lived Eastern Roman Empire. Not content to let that occasion pass without mention, I put together a long article detailing the final days of the Western Roman Empire and over-viewing the events that led up to it – mainly through viewing the succession of increasingly weak rulers in Italy. While the quiet end of the Western Empire was less dramatic than the East – with a boy Emperor turning in his crown instead of Constantine XI committing to die alongside his men in the holy capital, it is still an interesting story worth telling. See the article “.”
Finally, I posted an article yesterday touching on the impending end of summer and the shorter days and longer nights that come with it. The article, “,” borrows half of its title from the children’s poem “Bed in Summer” by Robert Louis Stevenson. The article not only contains “Bed in Summer” printed in its entirely, but also approaches some of the themes of the children’s poem from the perspective of an adult, with the aid of our “” post from May 16. I conclude the article with a second Stevenson poem, “Happy Thought.” The poems are accompanied by artwork by Myrtle Sheldon from a 1916 compilation of Stevenson’s children’s poems.
Those of you who primarily visit The New Leaf Journal through Facebook may have seen that Victor posted my first article about building a new computer – where my progress had been halted by a dead-on-arrival motherboard. Eventually, Victor will post my article about completing my computer build, but early knowledge of the happy ending is reserved only for those of you who visit the site regularly or who subscribe to our or . Perhaps Victor is trying to push everyone in that direction – either that or, as he suggested, he wanted to keep the Facebook audience in suspense about my computer.
I was unable to post a new newsletter last week because I was busy trying to get my new computer build to work. Sadly, , it appears that my motherboard was a lemon. I had hoped to spend this weekend completing my new computer with a replacement motherboard, but UPS has decided to deliver it on Monday after maintaining that it would arrive yesterday until the UPS truck had returned to Queens without delivering it. While that was an annoying mail incident to be sure, it does not rise to the level of .
Although I spent much of the last week since posting the fighting with my computer and writing legal memoranda, I found time to publish several new pieces of content on site. First, I wrote about in Brooklyn Heights a couple of years ago. Second, I published a . While the tips will not save me and similarly unfortunate individuals, they should work for the vast majority of you. Finally, being rescued in northern New Jersey. In my post, I reveal that the emu, Emmui, had actually become lost while trying to find his (or her?) way to our .
I decided not to publish a week in review this week since, at the time I would have published it, we only had two articles up for the week. Starting next week, I will switch to a biweekly "week in review" schedule, noting that it makes little sense on slower weeks for every fourth or fifth article to be a week in review.
We upgraded our version of WordPress during the week. The new version of WordPress has several new features that I am still exploring. At the moment, it does not appear to have changed anything in the content we already posted. Furthermore, the new version of WordPress implements lazy loading of images, which I had decided not to implement separately before it became a core WordPress feature.
I am still looking at the best way to implement social media following buttons for WordPress. However, in the meantime, you can follow us on and if you use any of those services and are not following us already.
I have several articles planned for the next week. First, I have two pieces about sights from 2018 trips across the Manhattan Bridge. These days are not the best days to cross bridges in New York City, but that makes them the best days to look back on better times. In the middle of the week, I will publish an article about Calvin Coolidge's anecdote of seeing then-President Benjamin Harrison deliver a speech in Vermont when Coolidge was on summer vacation from college, complete with the text of Harrison's address. Finally, I have a couple of posts planned about recent sights in downtown Brooklyn.
Victor has been even busier than me over the last couple of weeks. However, he may be able to publish a new article this week after a brief hiatus Until then, you can enjoy is most recent article - .
Thank you as always for subscribing and reading We will report back with a new biweekly review and edition of next weekend.
The Newsletter Leaf Journal has a new newsletter for a new month. Here, we will review some of the new content at The New Leaf Journal along with miscellanea and things to look forward to.
Last week, we published four new articles here at We made note of those articles yesterday in the newest .
The in favor of crafting video game strategy guides to lead players to error. After contemplating my own video game snafu, I asked myself whether I should be the only one to learn from my mistakes? Perhaps others could learn from my mistakes too. But is it better to learn first-hand or to learn just by reading about someone making mistakes. An idea for guides was born.
I also posted a new story about. As the host of I certainly cannot let emu news pass us by - even if the news is not necessarily in accord with the .
You may also read my and an anecdote about a .
In my feature article last week, I discussed making a grievous error in for without confirming that the error ever happened, of course. Shortly after publishing that article, I had a near error-free run through the final stage of my second play-through of the game, completing the adventure after more than 100 hours of playing. Since I beat the game on the highest difficulty without any bonuses from a prior play-through, I earned a shiny start screen. Was a shiny start screen alone worth the time? Of course.
As I have suggested before, I am working on creating new review content for Thus far, Victor and I have combined to post three . I posted reviews of a and a , while Victor posted his review of three sets of guitar strings. As I played Fire Emblem, I thought about doing game reviews as well as book reviews and miscellaneous reviews. However, I figured that no one needs another review of Fire Emblem, one of the most-played and highly regarded games on the Nintendo Switch. Instead, I am working on some game reviews of unusual games from the past or more contemporary games that have not been the subject of much attention. You may expect some of this new content later this month.
For next week, I have several new articles in the works. Furthermore, I have heard through the grapevine that we can expect an article from Victor this week.
Thank you for reading the third edition of If you are already a subscriber, we thank you for subscribing. If you accessed this newsletter from our archives or second-hand, please if you like what you read. We look forward to posting a new newsletter next Sunday.
As I noted in yesterday’s , we posted two articles for the last week.
First, Victor about his budding career as a TikTok video-maker. Specifically, his recent and most successful video triggered an intense debate in the comments about the proper way to pronounce the word “capo.”
Second, from my time in high school. I will not spoil the story here, but it culminated with the line: “Yo! You’re the model and I’m the model maker.” While the story itself is little more than silly, I think that there is a valuable lesson to be had about finding content in frivolous things.
After posting the week in review, I published a new article yesterday with some specious proposals for composing video game strategy guides. I will reserve further discussion of that post for a future edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal, but you can read the article in the meantime.
In June, Victor published his first article referencing TikTok. In that article, rather than creator, describing his discovery of the tawdry lyrics of the blues icon, Lucille Bogan. He wondered whether his TikTok usage would change my view on TikTok in general. , it did no such thing.
Every time Victor brings TikTok up, I remind him that it’s only a matter of time before the United States Government bans the wretched spyware. He has suggested that he would be more than fine with that outcome, for whatever it is worth.
I will save fuller TikTok musings for a future article. For this post, I will acknowledge that TikTok brought The New Leaf Journal a peculiar sort of success. To accompany my response to Victor’s Lucille Bogan article, I created an awful picture of a tic-tac-toe board in Microsoft Paint and in three diagonal squares wrote “Tik,” “Tok” and “No.” All jokes aside, I think it was mildly clever – and someone with a modicum of artistic inclination (cc Victor) could have done more with it. In light of my lack of artistic talent, however, I figured that the sloppiness of it would endear people in some small way.
Like most of our images on site, I posted it to our . After not receiving many views for the first 2-3 weeks it was posted, it “blew up,” as Victor would say, at one time crossing 2,000 views over a 30-day period. Over the previous 30 days, it has been viewed 1,707 times – down from its apex, but still far more than any other post. Sadly, it has not received much in the way of actual engagement, has made it into the feeds (or whatever you would call it in Pinterest’s case) of thousands of people around the world. Given that it took me about two minutes to create “Tik Tok No,” I suppose that I cannot complain.
Thank you for reading our second edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal. If you are already a subscriber, we thank you and hope that you are enjoying the newsletter as we get it up and running. If you are reading this in our archives but have not subscribed yet, we hope that you consider signing up. You can find our for both and our FeedBurner RSS letter on our website. We look forward to sending the next newsletter this week.
Welcome to the first edition of . As I noted , we will be using this biweekly newsletter to send you news about our content, old posts you may have missed, site updates, things to look forward to at , as well as some newsletter-exclusive content. Going forward, you will be able to access our newsletter archive from The New Leaf Journal. Without further ado, below you will find the newsletter proper.
I posted our most recent, and 11th week in review post yesterday. You can find that article . In that article, I discussed our four most recent articles and substantial changes to the site structure and header menu. I hope that the new header menu will make it easier for you to navigate the site and find content that interests you.
Before continuing, I will make special note of the first article written by someone other than me or Victor. welcomes “Observant Misanthrope,” who posted a humorous piece reflecting on Matt Damon’s crane-assisted move to Brooklyn Heights. As a result of his using a crane to facilitate the entry of his furniture and plants into his very expensive penthouse, New York City shut down an entire street in the neighborhood. allows you to share in the special feeling of being graced with the ethereal presence of Hollywood royalty.
Among our new articles last week was Victor’s “.” I won’t spoil the entire saga here, but Victor’s story ended with an expensive package being left on his sweltering doorstep, despite the fact that he had been home all day and would have readily retrieved it immediately had the FedEx delivery man deigned to ring the doorbell.
![A package left on a doorstep for Victor V. Gurbo](https://thenewleafjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/world-class-pro-audio-gear-tape.jpg)
Unlike Victor, I live in an apartment building. For this reason, most of the packages make it indoors one way or another, regardless of whether the intended recipient is home. But I have found that I have strangely bad luck on this count with sunglasses.
Several years ago, I ordered a pair of aviator sunglasses from American Optical, via their website. They were about $100, give or take $10 either way. I should have known that I was in trouble when the package came into the care of the United States Postal Service – the delivery service most prone to calamity. One day when I stepped outside, I found a small box sitting precariously on the stoop outside my building. The glasses were actually bent a bit, although it was fixable. But all things I considered, I was lucky that they were neither stolen nor more damaged. The sustained greater damage when I walked into a wall when I was still dizzy from having been on the Roosevelt Island Tram, but I digress.
This week, shortly after I posted Victor’s article, I ordered a cheaper pair of sunglasses – about $25 – in the hopes that they would not fog up in conjunction with my face mask. Sure enough, I found those too outside my front door. These glasses came in a hard case, however, so they were in perfect condition. The jury is still out on their aversion to fogging.
New York City is entering “phase four” of its vaunted reopening. began in the midst of the worst of the viral outbreak in New York City. Victor and I published several pieces of content alluding to the disaster in New York in the earliest days of our online magazine.
Victor began his Quarantine Sessions series of articles based on a terrific ongoing music project with him and the talented Mark Caserta. You can read Victor’s series introduction and find links to all of his Quarantine Sessions articles .
In the first two weeks at , I published three articles about things seen around a largely empty brownstone Brooklyn. First, I published a , with a picture, about an endearing inflatable Uncle Sam tribute to first responders in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. One day later, of the joint Blue Angels-Thunderbirds flyover of New York City, with the story of how I took the pictures. We later of the article with the better versions of the pictures that Victor retouched. Finally, on May 7, I published a on my walks in Brooklyn during the period when far fewer people were out, along with a story of an unusual bird and squirrel sighting from 20 years ago.
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