Housekeeping note: change of email subscription service

river in November light between bare woods and mountain

Putting on my web admin hat for a second to bring you this important announcement (clears throat): Henceforth, Via Negativa subscriptions will be served by rather than Mailchimp, which doesn’t work too consistently anymore. That’s because we have too many subscribers for Mailchimp to handle on their free plan—a quality problem, I suppose—and I didn’t feel like hitting y’all up to cover the cost of a paid plan ($27/month! Yikes). I’ve swapped in the new form in the sidebar, and a checkbox will appear below the comment form at the bottom of every post. Here’s the form as well for your convenience:

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About the daily email digest

Just a brief note to anyone who gets the daily email digest (or who follows the site on Feedly): My apologies for the huge lags recently between the actual posting times and when (or even if) new items have showed up in the newsletter. I believe I have it sorted now—last night’s edition included all three of yesterday’s posts. Do note, however, that in the process of catching up, the email delivery service decided to skip over Friday’s posts, so you’ll have to read those on the website.

For my more tech-minded friends: It turned out to be a problem with overly aggressive caching of RSS feeds by the plugin I use to cache and serve static files. (Beware performance-enhancing plugins!) So similar lag-times at Feedly and other feed readers should also now be fixed. Unfortunately for fans of my Pepys Diary erasure project, though, RSS subscribers will still have to click through to the site (or subscribe to the email digest) to see the actual erasures, since only the late, lamented Google Reader correctly displayed the sort of simple HTML formatting I’m using there.

Off to the wild wood

Just so nobody worries about my well-being, I’m going camping in the Adirondacks for a few days (maybe quite a few days if the weather turns nice), and am taking a break from the internet. I’ve temporarily removed the sidebar listing of recent comments, so as not to give the advantage to any spam commenters who might get past the crocodile-filled moat.

Moving Poems will continue to publish next week in my absence, inshallah. And don’t forget to keep up with qarrtsiluni, as well, where my able co-editor Beth will be running the show.

New qarrtsiluni call for submissions: “Words of Power”

For the second autumn in a row, Beth Adams and I will be stepping out from behind the curtain to edit an issue of qarrtsiluni ourselves. The deadline for submissions is August 31, and publication will begin around September 15. We’re pretty excited by the theme.

This time we’re looking for words of power: curses, spells, charms, prayers, incantations, mantras, sacred scriptures, explicit performative utterances, oaths, or legal instruments. Submissions may consist entirely of such super-charged language, or may riff upon or explore such language. Submissions of visual art may of course take a more figurative approach to the topic; images of amulets and other power-objects, for example, would be welcome. But otherwise we urge contributors not to interpret the theme too broadly. Please don’t just send us a piece of writing that you think is powerful according to some subjective evaluation. We’re looking quite specifically for language freighted with mana and/or executive force, or writing about that kind of language. If you’re not sure whether something qualifies, feel free to query.

Please limit written material to no more than five items per submission, with individual pieces not exceeding 3,000 words. Please refer to the general guidelines before submitting, and note especially the recommendation to query us if we don’t acknowledge receipt within two days — occasional server hiccups and email glitches are a fact of life on the internet.

We look forward to reading your words of power with an unusual admixture of excitement and trepidation. This issue could be a real test of our editorial juju!

We’re also really pleased with the results of our first annual poetry chapbook contest. Here’s the announcement about that.

Not out of the woods yet


In the middle of life’s journey,
I found myself in a light-filled woods,
the path long since forgotten…

O.K., not quite what Dante wrote. But then, Via Negativa ain’t exactly the Divine Comedy. I am, however, currently exploring the circle of hell populated by malicious hackers and spam bots (which is why the comments are inaccessible). See you on the other side, I hope.

In case there’s nothing on TV tomorrow night

For anyone in the local area who may be able to attend, I’ll be giving my first-ever PowerPoint presentation tomorrow night (Tuesday, January 15) at 7:00 p.m. for my local Audubon chapter. It’s entitled “Finding (and Putting) Nature on the Web,” and I’ll be focusing primarily on nature blogs, photo-sharing sites, and online nature identification resources. Apparently, our meeting place, a chapel in a graveyard, doesn’t have wi-fi, so I’ll be relying exclusively on screen shots. It’s easy to find, right off an exit of I-99 — directions are here. Come for the free cookies if nothing else.


UPDATE (June 22) – Thanks to everyone for the supportive and sympathetic comments. I do now have regular access to a dial-up connection, but as you can imagine it’s excruciating to go back to that after having gotten accustomed to DSL. If I get desperate enough, I may return to blogging at 26k/sec. In any case, though, I have sent Smorgasblog on vacation and substituted a dynamic blogroll courtesy of Google Reader. This will display links to the latest posts from close to 100 blogs; it’s not selective.

I’m suspending publication of Via Negativa (and curtailing most of my other online activities) due to a loss of internet service in Plummer’s Hollow. At this point I can’t predict when I might resume — it could be anywhere from a few days to a couple of months.

Thanks for reading. Take care.

Plummer’s Hollow wildflower walk

For anyone in the area who might be interested, I’ll be leading a walk up the hollow on Saturday morning beginning at 9:00 a.m. The road is open to the public in any case, but only for the first mile and quarter. By joining this hike saunter, you’ll get to see parts of the property normally off-limits to casual visitors. Bring water, wear comfortable walking shoes, and drop me a line if you need directions. Our wildflower diversity isn’t as high as you might find in some other spots with less acidic soil, but the hollow’s very pretty this time of year, and of course I can natter on endlessly about forest history and stuff.