Category Archives: Blog

New and improved!

In the first major change to this blog since… a long time ago, I have moved the hosting of Cut the Chatter from Blogger to WordPress. The URL hasn’t changed, nor has the RSS feed, or anything else in terms of reading the blog so you, dear reader, shouldn’t really notice a huge difference. The blog itself will look different, particularly if I get off my butt and actually try to make it look nice, but that should be it. But because it’s on WordPress, I may have the ability to do cool things that I couldn’t do before. Not that I have any ideas what those might be, but there are a million WordPress plug-ins out there so I’ll have to peruse what’s available and maybe play around with them.

The initial reason I made this switch was basically because Twitter changed their API a year or two ago. Because of that change, the Twitter plug-in for Windows Live Writer (which I use to write all my articles) no longer worked, so when I published an article, I had to manually tweet the link, and then I’d manually post the link to Facebook. I got tired of that, so I looked for services to do it for me. Surely this is simple – check an RSS feed once every hour and when a new article shows up, tweet / post the title of the article along with a link to it. How hard can that be?

Well, I tried about four of them. In every case, it sometimes worked fine while other times the auto-tweets / postings would take many hours or even days to show up, if they showed up at all. After losing patience with the fourth one, I asked for help on Facebook and Twitter. Marisa said that if I used WordPress I got that ability for free, and a bunch of other things as well. I was hesitant about WordPress because when I looked into switching a few years ago, I discovered I had to pay to use (instead of, while Blogger let me change my domain name for free. I’m not going to pay for something I can get for free, am I? Well, when enough people tell you “yes, it’s worth it”, then you start to think about it. From what I’ve seen so far, $26 per year (for both this blog and my lacrosse blog) is indeed worth it.

Let me know what you think! Not only will it give me some welcome feedback but it will allow me to test out WordPress comments!

Update: Unfortunately, the twitter thing didn’t work. No tweet, no Facebook post, no Google+ post when this article was published. I think it’s because I use Windows Live Writer rather than publishing from the web site. It’d be awfully ironic if the very reason I switched was to get a feature that I can’t use anyway.
Update 2: The Twitter/Facebook/Google+ thing works fine, as long as you publish the article from the web site. If I publish it from Windows Live Writer, I get nothing. So now I post the article to the blog as a draft, then go go the web site and publish it from there. I can also choose to publish it at a future date/time as well.


Blogging about NOT blogging

Hey! Remember me? I used to blog at this site quite a bit. But in the last year or so, things have really gotten quiet around here. It’s not that I’ve stopped writing, in fact I’m writing more than ever. It just ain’t here.

Back in 2008, I wrote 165 articles on this blog, including 20 articles in September alone. In 2009, I dropped to 122, and then dropped by exactly half to 61 in 2010.  But I was sick for half of 2010, and came back a little in 2011 with 82 articles. In August of 2011 I joined In Lax We Trust (now and moved all my lacrosse writing over there. Four months later, I created my own lacrosse blog,,  and a month after that I started writing for I’m actually a pretty big player in the world of indoor lacrosse now. (I can write that here because the lacrosse people who know that that’s a total crock don’t read this blog and the people who read this blog don’t follow lacrosse to know that that’s a total crock. Except that I just told you. Crap.)  I still do a lot of writing for those two sites, and as a result my output here has dropped off. I dropped again by over half to only 33 in 2012, and this article (early February) is the first one of 2013.

For those of you who have been disappointed about this apparent drop in productivity (hi Candyce!), you have my sincere apologies. It was not my objective to abandon this site. But in order to stay current on the National Lacrosse League, I have to focus a lot of my spare time there so that I (appear to) know what the heck I’m talking about. Between that and taking the boys to soccer and swimming during the week and spending time with Gail and the boys on weeknights and weekends and visiting relatives all over Ontario and oh yeah, that pesky full-time job, I don’t end up with a lot of time for other writing. I do miss it though, and when I look and see that my most recent article was posted six weeks ago, I get kinda sad for my poor neglected little blog.

That said, please understand that I am not under the delusional impression that there are thousands, hundreds, or even dozens of people clamoring for me to write more. I write here because I enjoy writing and the occasional discussion that comes out of it.

There are two other other reasons I don’t write here as much as I used to. The first is to stop annoying people. In looking back over my previous non-lacrosse articles, many of them in the last year or two are related to skepticism, eg. why vaccines are good, why legislating some alternative medicines makes no sense, why the 9/11 conspiracy theorists are all nuts, stuff like that. I decided to tone it down a little on that front since I felt like I was starting to become that guy that people stop listening to because he just rants all the time. I still have an article or two in the queue in this vein, so it won’t entirely disappear. Natural News aficionados, beware.

The other reason is Facebook. Other than skepticism and lacrosse, most of what I wrote were comments on random articles I read on the web and short funny stories about my kids. These days, I frequently find myself posting these to Facebook instead of writing a whole article about them. This isn’t a conscious decision, it’s just how things have worked out. If I have a lot to say on a subject I’ll write an article about it, but there have been a few times where I’ve wanted to say something but just didn’t have the time to say it all so I just post it on Facebook.

I have at least ten articles in the queue. Most are just ideas that I’ve had and currently consist of single sentences that I will eventually expand. A few have been started, some are about half done, and at least one has been mostly done for a year but is likely way out of date so I almost have to start it over. There’s one I’m having fun with but it involves a lot of creativity and thus is very time-consuming.

So the take-home message here is that I have not abandoned this blog and will still post things from time to time. Some of them might even be entertaining – you know the old bit about the blind squirrel occasionally finding a nut.

All blogged out… for now

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed a slowdown in the number of postings over the last five months or so. This is because of the other two blogs I’ve been writing for: (my own lacrosse blog) and, the premier box (indoor) lacrosse blog anywhere. Since late December, I’ve written twenty articles on ILIndoor (listed here) and almost eighty articles on NLLChatter. By way of comparison, I’ve written all of ten here.

The National Lacrosse League season ended a little over a week ago. There are indoor lacrosse leagues in the summer, as well as a field lacrosse league, but I don’t really follow them, so I’m pretty much done with lacrosse until next winter. So now that I have more free time to not write about lacrosse, and because the weather is beautiful outside, I’m finding that sitting at the computer and writing about other things is a little less of a draw now than it has been in the past. I’m quite sure this is temporary, and I do have a number of articles in the queue either needing polish or waiting to be written. In fact, one of them will likely be posted later today.

So do not worry, faithful reader, that I have quit the blogging game. Stick with me and there’ll be more articles coming – and I guarantee that you’ll get the same amount of insight and wisdom as you’ve always gotten from me. Interpret that last sentence as you will.

Canadian Blog Awards redux


Back in November, I found out that my blog had been nominated for a 2011 Canadian Blog Award. Well, the results from the first round of voting are in, and I am excited to say that I placed fifth out of 39 in the Best Personal Blog category. Thanks very much to everyone who voted for me, but we’re not done yet! The final round has already begun, and now there are only five nominees. The vote counts have been reset to 0, and we vote again.

My blog got 34 votes in the first round, while the blog in the lead got 81, so I’ve got some ground to make up but with your help, dear reader, we can do it. Please vote, and I don’t want to put any undue pressure on anyone or use guilt trips or anything, but if you don’t tell your friends and family to vote too, well I guess the terrorists have won. And it’s your fault.

Voting began on December 24, and ends on January 20. Go and vote now! (Note that I was unable to see the names of the nominees on the voting page when using Chrome, but IE and Firefox work.)

Again, thanks to whoever nominated me and to everyone who voted for me.

Canadian Blog Awards

Yesterday someone left a comment on a recent article of mine. I get the occasional comment when my articles are posted to facebook but very rarely on the blog itself, so the fact that I got a comment at all was pretty cool. The comment said that the article was “brilliantly written”, which is even more cool, but the next sentence blew me away:

I found you through the Canadian Blog Awards and no wonder you’re up there!

Ummm, what? First off, I had never heard of the Canadian Blog Awards. That’s fine, there are a zillion things on the internet that I am unaware of. But how would you find my blog on a blog awards site unless… no. CanadianBlogAwards2011

As it turns out, yes! Someone has nominated Cut The Chatter in the Best Personal Blog category. I am extremely flattered, honoured, and surprised by this. There are a few reasons I’m surprised:

  • It’s just me and my blog. I like to think that at times it’s insightful and entertaining, but come on. It’s just me. My wife doesn’t even read it.
  • I’m up against some other blogs with hundreds of regular readers. I have three members. Only one of my last ten articles has been viewed 100 times. More people read my stuff through facebook and RSS and I can’t count those, but I’d bet that the average article I write here is read by less than 50 people total.
  • My content is all over the map. Personal stories, lacrosse and other sports, skepticism, technology, music, whatever.
  • Sometimes I write four posts in a week, sometimes four posts in a month. No consistency at all.

So that’s why I’m surprised about the fact that I was nominated. But I’m also surprised about the nomination process itself:

  • Whoever nominated me did not tell me they were nominating me. To the nominator: First off, thank you very much. Secondly, please don’t feel pressured to reveal your identity to me. If you would prefer to remain anonymous, that’s totally fine.
  • The awards site itself did not contact me to tell me I was nominated.

That second one seems especially weird. The site itself (which is simply a blog with links to pages on a generic polling site) is obviously not updated very often – the 2010 award winners were announced last October, and there are only three articles since then. One of them says that the 2011 awards were delayed because of a lack of nominees. The About/Contact page talks about “this year (2010)”. The Rules page talks about the 2010 awards as being in the future. It makes me wonder how many people actually vote on these awards – did the winner in a particular category get 50 votes? 500? 50,000? I have no idea. Oddly, there are also the Canadian Weblog Awards which seem to be unrelated to the Canadian Blog Awards.

Having said all that, regardless of whether these awards are voted on by 50 people or 50 thousand, it’s a cliché but it’s true – it’s an honour just to be nominated. I’m truly flattered by this, and every time I’ve thought about it since I found out yesterday, I smile and just shake my head. Last week someone at work told me that he enjoys reading my facebook statuses and notes (i.e. blog posts), and that made my day. Then this past Monday, someone on twitter told me that I was her favourite lacrosse writer, and that also made my day. And now this.

I never wanted to be a writer, I never studied journalism, I never even liked creative writing in school, and I hated writing essays. I started this blog on a whim in April of 2005 and have been writing about whatever ever since. It’s only in the last three years or so that I’ve discovered that I really love doing it, and to have people tell me they enjoy what I write is amazingly rewarding. To be nominated for this award and have people vote for me is just mind-blowing beyond words. Thank you so much to my secret admirer whoever nominated me and to everyone who’s voted for me.

Well, what are you waiting for? Don’t waste any more time listening to me gush.  Go vote!

What led you to me?

Here are some actual searches that led people to my blog from September to December 2010. 

Attention Facebook readers: You might want to click the “View Original Post” link at the bottom of this note. Facebook sometimes messes up the formatting.

  • “toop ten 2010 fucking girls an sking” – I have no idea how this led to my blog. I even tried doing the same search and my blog didn’t show up in the results. I messed around with this search string to try and make my blog appear in the results – including adding “cut the chatter” to it – but I couldn’t.
  • “garth brooks bmw truck opera subsidize”
  • These three were all on the same day. Not sure if it was the same guy who kept forgetting the answer or three different people, but I have not seen criteria like this on any other day.
    • “my middle name is earl song lyrics”
    • “my middle name is earl lyrics to song”
    • “what song miidle name is earl”
  • Someone found my blog through a search from This must be Google’s search engine for pirates.
  • “my face has sunken”
  • “i have been sent home with a t-tube coming out of my tummy what is this”
  • “boys on pool table doing the macarena” as well as “macarena boys dancing pool table”
  • “procedure for placing drain tube in buttock cheek ct guided”
  • “should you call ambulance when acute pancreatitis attack” – on the assumption that you don’t want to die, I’d say yes
  • “do they have to cut my stomach to tie my tubes”
  • “is wayne gretzky circumcised” – I wrote an article on circumcision several years ago and ever since, I’ve seen a number of searches hit my blog asking about the… um… status of celebrities including Wayne Gretzky, Eric Lindros, Charlie Sheen, Clay Buchholz, and others. I don’t know why this information would be of value to anyone and honestly, I don’t want to know why someone thinks it might be.

Two blogs for the price of one

Not only will I be writing on my own blog (this here one), but this season I will also be writing for “the official un-official fan blog of the NLL” at I will be one of at least four writers on that site; the other three are based out of Edmonton but we hope to cover the entire league, not just the Rock and Rush. This is a new site, so I’m not sure what kind of readership we will have but regardless, it’ll be fun. I will likely post any new lacrosse articles I write both here and there.

Windows Live Writer

I recently upgraded my MSN Messenger to the latest version, and Microsoft was kind enough to ask me if I wanted to install a bunch of other crap applications with it! Well, it was kind of them to ask; not every company does (lookin’ at you, Real Player). Anyway, one of the apps it asked about (and the only one I installed) was Windows Live Writer, which is essentially a WYSIWYG editor for blog postings. It has all your standard Word-like buttons for formatting text and adding images, lists (numbered and bullet), hyperlinks, tables, etc. as well as undo/redo. It also allows you to keep drafts, preview what the posting will look like when published, spell-check the article, and even add categories. It knows about the blog software you use so it can (presumably) tailor itself to what you’re using. If you’re using WordPress rather than Blogger (which I use), some WordPress-specific options may show up while Blogger-specific options would not be shown. Once you’re done, you can even publish your article directly from Live Writer – just click a button, enter your password (if you haven’t saved it), and you’re done.

One of the coolest features is the preview pane. Live Writer will download your blog’s template, and use it to generate the preview so that while you’re writing your posting, you can see exactly what it will look like once published. Blogger has a preview option as well, but it sucks. I mean it really sucks. Really. It’s just hopelessly broken. It does basic HTML formatting so that italics shows up as italics, but the font it uses is different from the one that the blog uses, tables and images aren’t formatted the same way, the width of the text area is different, it just looks nothing like the final product. Google (which owns blogger) doesn’t get much wrong with their software, but this is one area where they’ve really dropped the ball. Live Writer, on the other hand, shows the preview exactly as it will show up on the blog, complete with the sidebar, previous posts, dates, labels, links, the blog title, everything. I’m very impressed.

Before using Live Writer, I would write my blog entries in emacs using markdown format, then run it through a perl script I wrote that called markdown and did some other formatting and wrote the output to an html file. I could then preview the html file in the browser for formatting and when it was done, copy-and-paste the contents of the html file into the blogger “Create Post” page. Going from the text I was editing to the html was a two-step process – I would switch from emacs to a command shell and run fix and then start .html which would launch Firefox. From then on, I would save my edits, then go to the command shell and run fix again, then switch to Firefox and hit CTRL-R to refresh the page. This was not that big a deal, but the WYSIWYG thing is much easier and I love the accurate preview window.

I’ve used it so far to write a few blog entries (including this one) and I’m really starting to like it. The preview thing is awesome, it does spell-checking which neither emacs nor markdown do (after pasting the html on the blogger page, Firefox will do it, though I’d have to remember to actually check it before publishing), and there are plug-ins you can get to add other capabilities. For example, if you post lots of pictures or video to your blog, there are plug-ins to make those easier. One thing I don’t particularly like is font support. If you choose a different font, it uses the html tag to specify it. I don’t like the font tag – I prefer using CSS – but I rarely change fonts anyway.

Interesting note: Over the past week, I have found a couple of interesting spelling suggestions for technical words from the spell checker:

  • “Unix” for “unix”
  • “Xbox” for “XBox”
  • “VMware” for “VMWare”
  • “Perl” for “perl”
  • It doesn’t know what “emacs” is (suggested “maces”)

While testing the font thing out, I found another cool feature: if you do want to do something that the editor doesn’t directly support (like fixed width text), you can just switch over to the Source window and enter the HTML directly. This also allows you to add other html stuff as well as custom styles, and even JavaScript (which actually runs in the preview window). Just for fun, I even tried the and tags – though I truly believe that anyone using either of those should be shot – and marquee worked but blink did not. I don’t care about that though, since I’ll never use either of those on a blog entry. If I did, according to what I said before, I’d have to shoot myself. And I would.

Anyway, if you have a blog, and you use Windows (I kind of doubt that there will be Linux or Mac versions anytime soon), you may want to check this out. And by the way, in case you think this is a paid endorsement or that I’m posting this because I have friends at Microsoft or something, it’s not and I don’t. I did work at Microsoft for a four-month work term over seventeen years ago (holy crap, I’m old), and I know the guy who created Xbox Live (though he doesn’t work for Microsoft anymore), and I listen to Scott Hanselman’s podcast, but that’s about the extent of my association with Microsoft. But if anyone at Microsoft wanted to pay me after the fact for writing such a glowing review, I’d gladly take an Xbox 360. Feel free to contact me for my address.

My blogging legacy

Some actual searches that reached my blog in the last month:

  • Google Search: circumcise waterpark
  • Google Search: is clay buchholz uncircumcised
  • Yahoo Search: “other words for penis”
  • Google Search: is charlie sheen circumcised?
  • Google Search: is wayne gretzky circumcised

Geez… I wrote one article on circumcision, and searches are still hitting it over two years later. It is also the current record-holder for comments, with twelve. I guess it was on the cutting edge (har).

As a comparison, an article on the circus that I wrote the same month has zero comments, and I’ve never seen a single search hit that one. I guess penises are big on the internet! Wait, that’s not what I meant…