Dad Blogger, Redux

I’ve spent a lot of the last nine months, the non-blogging months, finishing grad school. I’m done now. Hi, I’m Dr. Shawn Burns, Ph.D., and now I don’t know what I’m doing.


I spent the spring finishing the writing and editing of my dissertation, while Adrian finished pre-school, and Erin finished first grade. I attended my commencement on Father’s Day, before I defended. I  defended on my birthday, in early July. I revised and submitted my dissertation to the university before the end of July (and before San Diego Comic-Con, which was my little reward for finishing that project). My dissertation was approved by the registrar at the end of July.

And yesterday my degree was conferred, officially. So it’s all official. There are no take-backs. I’m have a Ph.D. and I can never not have a Ph.D. again. Hooray, me. Now what do I do with it?

I am on the job market, but in a very limited way. We are not going to move, so I am not going to chase tenure-track jobs out of a very close geographical area. The story was different when I started grad school, and before we had kids. But reality is what it is. I will only look for jobs close to home, instead of making a home close to jobs. This year it’s looking like there are five or six positions for people with doctorates in my field, but there are zero for people with my specialty. So I won’t be getting any of those jobs.

Now I find myself back at the beginning, where this space started, as a stay-at-home dad with a blog. Back then it was a choice: I took a year off in order to stay home with Erin after she was born, and I wrote about what we were doing, which was all new for me. This feels like less of a choice. Like I have less right to identify as a stay-at-home dad if I am just not participating in the workforce for now, until something comes along. If I am still researching and writing and building a C.V. and portfolio in order to be hired, I don’t get to be in the club anymore. I’m not sure if there was even a club back then, or if I was in it, but I definitely don’t feel like I’m in one now. Who needs clubs? What are the stay-at-home dads up to, these days? What are dad bloggers doing? Is blogging stupid?

Is personal blogging stupid? Professional blogging? I tried to blog professionally for a while a few years ago, and the experience made me quit writing on my own blog, eventually. I didn’t like producing click-bait, participating in controversies, or trying to come up with the most facile, shareable content. I don’t know how to blog like the bloggers do today. I’m not even particularly funny when I blog. I’m funnier on Twitter.

So here I am in this space again and it all feels like a jacket I haven’t worn since I gained or lost weight. But I have time again, and a need to write things. I still have stories. Would you like to hear a story?

Catching Up (No Photos)

It’s been a busy few months around here. Birthdays, trips, solo-parenting stints, medical procedures, working, avoiding working, working again. I stopped blogging in the middle of recounting our road trip (it started to feel like homework instead of blogging), and I couldn’t write anything else without finishing that first, which meant I didn’t write anything at all. I don’t know why it would have been so terrible to inject a post about taking a walk, or the end of kindergarten, or Adrian’s birthday in the middle. But I couldn’t, and I also couldn’t keep writing those road trip posts.

Every now and then I start to dislike blogging. I had a couple of months of that just now. And the less I wrote on my own blog, the less patience I had with other people and their writing and what I was convinced were transparent tactics to get me to click their links or participate in controversies or whatever the hell people think it takes to be a successful blogger. I’ve tried all of those kinds of blogging, and I’ve walked away every time. This time, my very own blog felt like that, which bothered me even more than trying to make a slideshow so a corporate blog could get ten times the clicks per post.

It took getting my wisdom teeth out, and being forced to not stress about anything else for a few days during recuperation, for me to finally just write words and press “publish” and get it out of the way.

Anyway, how are you?

(P.S. Since Google Reader is going away, or is already gone, you might want to change the way you read, or don’t read, this blog. There are other readers out there, like Feedly or Old Reader. You could also subscribe via e-mail (THERE’S A BOX OVER THERE TO THE RIGHT YOU CAN FILL OUT), though I can’t promise that some night I won’t write three posts, then write nothing for two months. I’m like that.

There’s always the easy, way, of course: Following me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. If you’re just interested in a way to keep track of when a post goes up, Facebook is probably for you. I only use it for blog links.)


I’m Funnier On Twitter (A Guide to Embedded Tweets in WordPress 3.4)

Working Dad Talking On Phone Holding An InfantI upgraded my WordPress installation, and while reading the details page I saw that apparently this version allows embedding of tweets into WordPress posts with some kind of interactivity about them. I’m supposed to type the permanlink to a tweet on its own line, and then WordPress will do something magic with that link.

I don’t usually write posts from within the WordPress Editor, though. I use Windows Live Writer. I’d like to find out if this magic trick will work with with permalinks that I put on single lines from within the Live Writer editor.

I had a pretty good run on Twitter today, so I have a few tweets of my own to use for this experiment. Let’s see if it works.


So, it looks like I have to go into the WordPress Editor to take advantage of this feature. Let’s try it again.

Wait a minute. That didn’t work either. Is it because I put the permalink on a line by itself in the “Visual” editor instead of the “HTML” editor? Let’s try the HTML version.

Oh, that’s kind of cool. You can see a nice image of the tweet, with a little “Follow” button and a link to my profile. Very nice. But it bleeds out of the side of my fake center column. Is that a default that I can change, I wonder? And I’ve noticed within my “Visual” editor that I don’t see that image, just the permalink, but it isn’t hyperlinked to the tweet. Is that why it didn’t work in the Visual version the first time? Maybe if I break that link it will work. Let’s try with another tweet.

Aha! Yes, if, after you paste the permalink into your Visual editor you then break the hyperlink the editor wants to do you the favour of creating for the line you pasted, then the editor will embed the tweet properly.

Now, what about that edge-bleeding? If I go into the WordPress Dashboard, and then to “Settings”–>”Media”, I get an option to change the width and height of the auto-embedded media. I changed my width to “400”. Did that fix the problem? (Note, when I pasted this link in the “Visual” editor I right-clicked the mouse and selected “Paste as plain text” so that I wouldn’t have to break the hyperlink after the fact.

Yep! But hey! It’s also changed the width of my previously embedded tweets, so they look normal and I look crazy for mentioning a width bleed problem at all. Well. Trust me, there was one.

Okay, I think I’m done messing around with this now. Enjoy embedding tweets into your posts, WordPress 3.4 users.

P.S. Oh! I just remembered why the hell I started this post in the first place: Can I take advantage of this embedded tweets feature from within Windows Live Writer? It didn’t’ seem to work the first time, but maybe that’s also because the editor helpfully hyperlinked the permalink I posted. Let’s try a plain text version from within the Live Writer editor. (Unfortunately, there is no “paste as plain text” option when you right-click in the Live Writer editor, so the hyperlink will have to be broken manually, after pasting the text. Fingers crossed here.)

Well, that was a big “Hell no!” In fact, retrieving the post to Live Writer, then republishing, confused WordPress about the status of the permalinks that worked and broke them too. Now I’m in the Visual editor again. I see that the previously working links, within here, are still plain, and even the last one I did within Live Writer is plain (though the first one, that I pasted without breaking the link, still shows up as hyperlink blue). So what gives? Will the problem fix itself as soon as I hit “Update” now that I’ve been editing once again in the WordPress editor, and it sees all these plain text links?

Yep. All back to normal now (again, you’ll just have to trust me about their having disappeared there for a bit when I posted from Live Writer, since re-posting from within the WordPress editor fixed everything, and erased all evidence.)

Okay, now I’m really done.

Er…no, first I want to change the width of these things to 450 instead of 400. They are looking stubby. There. Once again, finally again, I know you can’t tell that I did anything. But trust me, the embedded twitter boxes looked a little weird for a bit.

So, in short: Embedded tweets look great in WordPress 3.4, so long as you paste in plain text on single lines, and do it from within the WordPress editor itself (either the “Visual” or “HTML” editors will work), but the process doesn’t work when posting from Windows Live Writer. And that’s a shame. I don’t know if I’ll use this feature that much if I have to compose from within the WordPress editor. Anyway, good night!