Blog Maintenance

July 10, 2011

Woke up this morning, I was feeling quite weird, had flies in my beard, my toothpaste was smeared. Couldn’t think of a thing to say in this week’s blog. Must be time to do a little maintenance work.

This has happened before. It was about this time last summer that I devoted a blog to offline comments from my regular readers. One of them (you know who you are) doesn’t seem to know how to work the comments section. In response to my blog on strawberry festivals he points out “Plant City  does not mean strawberry  plants.  The Plant family, founders like Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater and.. and… well… Plant City. Also home of Buddy Freddy’s restaurant, which I don’t think is as good as it was.”  This reader also liked “Lunch” which prompted a recommendation for a place called The Lizard’s Thicket in Columbia SC, as well as this comment:

As you may know, “pot likker” was, when I was a pediatrician in Columbus, GA, the staple in the diet of many infants and toddlers in our clinic population of fine but poor people, most of which happened to be Black.

And then there is Phillip Ackerman-Leist (not a regular reader) who took a look at Sheep Mountain and e-mailed back rather laconically that he would have something to say about rotational grazing in about ten years. Well, of course, that’s exactly the right answer, as I would expect from Phillip. If you don’t know him, check out his book Up Tunket Road which is rapidly moving up the sales status at It discusses his experience homesteading in Vermont, and working on farms in North Carolina and Austria and at Green Mountain College. It’s a personal journey of sustainability and I recommend it highly.

Keen eyed readers (I know, I know: the null set) will have noticed that Sheep Mountain disappeared for a while. That’s because a regular blog maintenance duty is to go through and read all the comments posted and then either “approve” or “trash” them. As the internet savvy know well, most of these come from robots. That’s either programs that scour the internet for opportunities to post random bits of text in comment boxes or robot-like human beings who do the same thing. Robots are the bane of blog writers, so much so that one of the hooks robots use get you to either approve their post or at least click on the link is to promise some neat, easy way of controlling them.

My general policy is to approve anything that I think comes from a real person, but sometimes it’s hard to tell. However, every now and then I’m tempted to approve robot posts. Like when they are just so wacky, especially in virtue of the disconnection between the text they post and the topic of the blog. There’ s the robot who posts “Mmm, pizza” (or some other food). I got sucked in by that one. Some robot posted a link to Viagra under “Let’s Get Small“, but I resisted that particular effort at seduction. And I was really tempted to “approve” a lot of obviously robot posts in response to Wieners on Parade. Like the “Thanks for your work on this important topic” posts, which just seemed right in tune with the overall theme of curious juxtapositions that guides this blog. For some reason I got more than the usual number of robots expressing interest in this particular entry. Must be those strangers that come every night. I guess they Google “wiener” on any given day.

Well at any rate I got a little bit too excited by all these wiener comments and accidently deleted my Sheep Mountain blog. It’s back today, with only a few minor improvements.

Over my window, they'd written my name
Said, so long, we'll see you again

Paul B. Thompson is the W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University


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