A Road Trip Through Texas: Day 4

I spent the day at the Dallas Zoo. It’s only the third zoo I’ve ever visited! And it’s also the largest in Texas.

I spent more than three hours exploring the zoo. By the time I finished I was pretty tired. I was lucky it didn’t get too hot during the day.

They let you feed the giraffes! I imagine this may be fairly common in zoos, but this guy was getting ALL the treats! The others were fine eating off the trees or the grass.

They also have seven Galapagos Tortoises! But I’m a little disappointed because a child threw a plastic wrapper into their enclosure and then one of them ate it immediately. Like, that’s unacceptable.

I was there fairly early after the zoo opened, and many of the animals were sleeping. 😂 I also just want to sleep out in the cool morning sun. There were a ton of snakes and reptiles.

These two did not budge for anything. Just another day relaxing in the water.

After the zoo my brother decided to join me for the Astros-Rangers game. I’m a little flabbergasted by the team getting a new stadium. This one was only my third MLB stadium, and I thought it was quite nice. Though we were freezing as there were strong wind gusts the entire game.

The Astros lost. But the beauty of baseball is they play again today.

After the day I decided for sure to just stay here in Dallas for the remainder of my trip. My initial plan was to go to San Antonio on Wednesday (today) but I’ll hold off because the things I want to do in San Antonio can be done in a three day weekend whenever I want to.

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My Year: 2015

I’d initially wanted to write a series of posts this week discussing my favorite things from different categories, but now I’m just going to write one review for everything. Even though I know everyone else already has. But eh. Let’s get started.

Blogging

At the start of 2015 I set some pretty ridiculous goals for the blog that I thought were attainable. They were, but I missed the mark. Here are some side-by-side stats comparing 2014 to 2015.

Posts

282 (2014) – 363 (2015)

Views

30,102 (2014) – 33,469 (2015)

Visitors

12,195 (2014) – 17,097 (2015)

Likes

5,302 (2014) – 8,386 (2015)

Comments

10,159 (2014) – 9,685 (2015)

I’m sure some might look at the numbers and think of how great the year was. It wasn’t. It was okay. About a thousand new followers and it didn’t translate into anything meaningful. No surge in views, comments, or much of anything. But it’s fine. Maybe my content was to blame. I don’t know.

But my original goals for the year were to reach 40,000 site views, to reach 5,000 followers, and to post 25 poems. I didn’t achieve any of those goals. So I won’t set any goals for the blog in 2016. Because it can only be as good as I can make it. And that’s it.

The top three posts published in 2015 were:

Ursula Le Guin is Clueless

Little Free Libraries Have Come Under Fire

On False Claims From Bloggers

Social Media

I’ve all but stopped using other social media. My Facebook app has been deleted but there’s something wrong with my phone and it randomly restarts and re-downloads the app. Not even kidding. I rarely use Twitter. My blog posts go there automatically, but I just don’t tweet hardly at all. I’ve only recently really started using my Instagram account a bit more. But I see people posting multiple terrible photos a day and I’m just baffled. Eh.

Reading

Y’all already know I only read 10 books in 2015. There’s nothing satisfying about that number. I did manage to read some good books, including the best book I’ve ever read. But this has got to stop. From 2010-2012 I read a total of 106 books. Which is nothing compared to some people on WordPress, but at least it’s something. From 2013-2015 I read a total of 32 books. It’s just stupid. What the hell am I even doing? *slaps myself*

BookTube

I know my channel has something like 16 subscribers, but this is probably what I’m most excited about in 2016. Because I’ll be making videos for two different things going on. I’ll still be reading from Amazon’s 100 Books Everyone Should Read list, which means videos for each one of those. And I’ll also be making videos for every book I read from my challenge. The first will be coming tomorrow for The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I finished last night. So if you’re still working on your first book of the year and you’re doing my challenge, you’re officially in the rear view mirror! I WILL set a goal for my channel in 2016. 25 videos. Easy enough. I released seven videos on my channel in 2015. My most viewed was my first video, An Intro to Johnny Reads!. It was also my shortest in length. Welp.

Hometown Teams

What a year for Houston sports. The Rockets had one of the most improbable playoff series wins in history by overcoming a 3-1 deficit to the LA Clippers and reaching the conference finals for the first time in almost 20 years. The Astros continued their improvement by snagging a playoff spot and having the eventual World Series champions within six outs of elimination. And the Texans just won their third division title in team history. Playoff game this Saturday! Everyone jokes at work that I don’t know anything except sports and books. Not that far from the truth.

Half Price Books

In August I started working at Half Price Books. It”s been great from day one. The people are great to work with and be around (even if they poke fun sometimes) and I’m literally paid to work in a bookstore. Heaven does exist! It’s already been five months and I’m still loving every single day there.

Trip of a Lifetime

My first. I’ve been saving as much of my little bit of money as I can. And I’m rewarding myself by taking the first trip of my life. I’ve been to Disney World. I’ve been to Michigan. But Disney World happened in the 90s and Michigan wasn’t a vacation type trip. But I’ll finally get to experience what it’s like to really travel. And I’ll be able to see the capital city of my country. I think during those four days I’ll be able to learn even more about what it means to be an American. Heck, I might even cry when I see some things. I can’t tell you how excited I am, and how glad I am to have made the decision to go. I’m hoping this becomes my first trip of many trips of a lifetime. Fingers crossed!

Reading Challenge

I said I’m most excited about my BookTube channel, but I’m also very excited about my reading challenge. Mostly because I’ve gotten tons of feedback and support since I first mentioned it a week ago. I have a feeling the post is going to be one of the top two or three posts of THIS year. It’s getting that much traffic. But I’m also excited to see what other people read and say about something I came up with fully on my own. I overhear my co-workers talking about it just about everyday. It’s great because I know others are also talking about it in various places on the Internet.

In a nutshell, I became more and less active on social media. I started working at a bookstore, My loyalty to my hometown teams finally paid off. And I saved up enough money to start my traveling. Sounds like an alright year to me.

Thanks for always coming back, guys. I know I write things you won’t always agree with and I’ll probably push your buttons without even knowing it, but it’s never too serious. And no one is aiming to be disrespectful. This is my little piece of cyberspace, and you’re always welcome.


On this day in 2015 I published Mark Zuckerberg’s “A Year of Books”.

I Introduce to you…Johnny Reads!

Guess who actually recorded their first YouTube video like he said he would yesterday? This guy!

Just to give you an idea as to how excited I was for this, I went through my entire day just thinking about it. And then once I was home and had the time to do it…I needed a nap. Then the Astros played. I ended up actually recording and editing around two in the morning. Hehe.

That’s all I have for y’all today. Now would you so kindly go watch my first video? It’s only three minutes long and you’ll finally find out what I plan on making videos about!

Oh, and it would be really nice if you went ahead and subscribed to my channel. I’ll supply snacks for when you watch my videos. How’s that? You can visit my channel page here.

And I’ll be playing around with different camera and lighting setups for the first few videos, so don’t judge me too much, okay? Okay.

PS: The winner of the vote to pick my next read from the Amazon list was Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I’ll be buying and reading it soon.


On this day in 2014 I published My Take on Critique Groups.

 

What Would you do if you Didn’t Have Books?

I’d just die. Okay, kidding.

Honestly, I’d pretty much be exactly the same. Shocker. I like reading and books and everything that goes with them, but I already spend many more hours in front of my TV than I do reading or talking about books. Y’all know I watch every single game of the Astros, Texans, and Rockets. That’s a lot of hours. And that doesn’t even include all the nationally televised games that don’t include any of my hometown teams.

Besides my obsession with sports, I like TV shows. I watch a million different shows. I usually have something set to record every day of the week except for Saturday. And there’s Bosch on Amazon and House of Cards. I just can’t get enough TV.

So if I didn’t have books I’d just find my entertainment elsewhere. Because at the end of the day that’s what reading is to me, entertainment. But what would YOU do if you didn’t have books?

An Important Question I Need Your Help With

I’m thinking of a complete overhaul of my blog.

Anyone who has read my blog for any period of time knows that I’m pretty strict about sticking to my theme. A couple of times a month I’ll write about something else, but if I were to look back at all my posts I’d bet that well over 90% are writing/publishing/book related. But I think there’s another topic that I’d like writing about just as much or more…sports.

I know you’re probably thinking “typical guy,” but no. I love sports more than I love books. And I can just about guarantee that the one guy you’re thinking about who tends to “know everything” about sports knows a whole lot less than I do. I had to come to realize how much I loved reading when I was younger. I didn’t have to do that with sports. There’s never been any doubt. I’ve only been to two Houston Rockets games (the second one happened yesterday) and I’ve never been to a Texans game, but I’ve probably attended 50 Astros games. And now that both the Astros and Rockets have a TV deal that allows me to watch them, I don’t miss games. It’s easy for someone to say they don’t miss any of their team’s games when it’s football season. But I’m talking about 82 + 162. It’s difficult to describe to you how seriously I take this stuff.

Simply put, I’ve never met someone who keeps up with MLB, NFL, and NBA like I do. I don’t just watch, I’m constantly analyzing. I used to think two of my older brothers knew more than I ever would in a lifetime, but I passed them long ago.

The thought has crossed my mind to just create a separate blog to write about sports, but that’s out of the question. There’s a reason this blog has a nice little readership and attracts new visitors every single day…time. The time I’ve put in to enable its growth. And I’m not going to do that a second time. But I know based on passed posts that y’all aren’t interested in what I have to say about sports. So I’m left with two choices…turn this into a sports blog because I want to, or don’t.

Tell me why or why not. And don’t say “do what you want.”

2014: What do I think of you?

Transparent_2014_2015_Sign

Photo Credit

Here it is, my 2014 recap! Cause I know you’ve been dying for me to write this. Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that this will not be all about blogging or books or writing…it’s going to be about all things me, and some not. Might as well get started before you die of boredom.

I’ve seen other bloggers write their recaps in chronological order, but no. I’m not doing that. I’m going to hit on whatever topics I want. First up…Blogging.

Blogging

Talk about a fantastic year. Did you see my WordPress annual report that gave you a little insight into my blog? If not, you can do so here. What’s happened on this blog is as unlikely as it gets. I blogged for six months last year and had a grand total of 1200 views. Let’s be real, that’s nothing. I was literally writing for myself cause no one else was reading. I only blogged about writing my first book. So I’d write a chapter and then write a blog post. I’d go a week without writing and I’d go a week without blogging. I didn’t read other blogs and I definitely never commented on any. I guess I thought WordPress would magically make my blog popular. Didn’t happen.

I turned the year with something like 80 WordPress followers. My app currently has the number at 2184. That’s pretty significant. And I’d have to say it’s all because of a change in format. No longer do I write about my writing, (especially since I haven’t written in months) but about anything that comes to mind. Sure books are the heavy focus, but now I include poems and my thoughts on particular subjects like Pearl Harbor and D-Day. I just realized that I posted 12 poems on here this year! Which means I’ve written 17 poems in my life. I think my Halloween poem was by far the worst. I mean, I shouldn’t have posted it because it was terrible. But I wrote it at like three in the morning and went to sleep. I don’t know if I can pick a favorite. I really like the autumn one. And also the reading one. But the materialistic one too? Ugh. I can’t pick a favorite. You try.

And what my annual report didn’t tell y’all was that there were more than 10,000 comments on my blog this year! Read that again…10,000! That’s why I like blogging so much. I get to discuss all these things I have going on in my head with people who know so much more than I do.

AND I’ve gotten the chance to get to know some great people over the course of this year because of this blog. Maybe one of them (or me) will one day write a huge bestselling book and go on a book tour so I can attend an event and be like, “Hey! I’m that guy who goes on rants about books on WordPress! It’s nice to meet you!” I heard there’s a WordPress expo? Maybe? Someone find out.

I have some lofty goals for 2015 for Write me a Book, John! First, I want to hit 40,000 site views for the year. Second, I want to reach 5,000 WordPress followers. And third, I’d like to post 25 new poems on here in 2015. Think y’all can help make those happen?

2014 final blog stats:

282 posts

30,102 views

12,195 visitors

5,302 Likes

10,159 comments.

Reading

Hmm. This was a terrible year for me, which you already know if you read this post. I managed to finish a grand total of seven books this year. I’m basically a reader who spends more time talking about reading than actually reading. I read a couple good books and a couple that were okay, but that doesn’t matter. I need to read more. Period. This is serious stuff.

Work

This is a topic that I’ve really only shared with a handful of y’all. So, now I might as well share with all of you who decide to read this. Most of you don’t know that I work in retail. I actually started when I was 17 and I’ve been at the same job ever since. I make more and I have a different title, but the job is largely the same. I started the summer before my senior year in high school and worked all the way through college. And now 19 months after graduating from UHD, I’m still there. I have no issue with the job. But now I’m looking for something more. In each of the last three months I’ve had three major interviews for CJ related jobs (my degree is in criminal justice). Unfortunately, I didn’t get the first two. BUT the most recent one was just over a week ago and I’m moving forward in the process. There are five steps total. And this is the first of the three that I’m confident about. I’ll have to let y’all know what happens. I have about three weeks before the next step.

Sports

I’m from Houston. I’m a die hard Texans fan. You probably already know that their season is over. They finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs by a single game. But I’m not going to complain too much about a team that improved by 7 wins over last season with largely the same personnel. Nope. And the Rockets (NBA) are looking more and more like legitimate title contenders with each passing day. James Harden is leading the way with an MVP-caliber start to the season. Wouldn’t it be something to have the NFL Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) in JJ Watt AND the NBA MVP in James Harden? JJ Watt will most likely be the unanimous winner of the DPOY and his case for MVP is out of this world. Let’s see what happens. All things considered, I’m excited about the future of the three major sports teams here in Houston. Jose Altuve just won the batting title for the Astros. Just an FYI.

Writing

Ugh. My goals at the beginning of the year were to write two books. I wrote maybe a third of one. Which is fine, I’ve known for months that I didn’t want to revisit the story until the new year. Well, time to put up or shut up. I have about 30k words written and I know exactly where I left off. I may even have a little surprise for y’all about this at a later date. We’ll see.

But my writing goal this year is to finish the first draft of the story I have now. No other timetable. I just want to finish it. I think I can. Even if I start working a new job, I think I’ll be able to finish it.

The Hunger Games

Yep. Gets a whole bullet to itself. Hm. I bet if I did a search of my blog for Katniss of THG or anything at all related to those three books that I would come up with a couple dozen posts. I mean, I’m obsessed. Sure I didn’t reread the books like I said I would, but now all I do is sing The Hanging Tree. Not even kidding. Matter of fact, here. Watch. Yes I know that Jennifer Lawrence isn’t going to win any Grammys any time soon, but really? Did you expect her to sound so…perfect? Seriously. You can’t listen to that and not be impressed. And the movie itself wasn’t bad. It wasn’t as memorable as either of the first two, but no one expected the first half of the worst book to be the best movie. At least no one who knows anything about the movies and the books. I’m looking forward to the conclusion of the series. Pretty sure I’ll be that crying uncontrollably emoji once it’s over. Not even kidding. Y’all have no idea. I want the mockingjay pin tattoo.

YouTube

This is one that I would never have imagined happening. I’m big on TV. Y’all know this. Before 2014 I had subscribed to a grand total of zero YouTube channels. And I could have named one YouTuber. But then in July I discovered Superwoman. I still sing her song #Leh just about every day. And I watch all of the videos she releases. But that’s not all. I’m now subscribed to maybe a dozen channels that range from top ten lists to pranks. I discover new channels almost every week and have discovered that I’m genuinely entertained by people who just put themselves in front of a camera and record. Here’s Superwoman’s 2014 recap. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this really made me happy to see. I know I don’t know her personally and I’ve yet to meet her, but there are very few celebrities who I believe are as genuine as she is.

People

Oooh getting personal. I’m no different from any other person. I have people in my life who matter more than or less than the next person. 2014 was no different. I’ve had a number of people just kind of drop out of my life this year, and one that I never would have expected. But hey, that’s life. I still have a number of people who I personally admire and respect. I’ve written about a few of them on here this year.

Overall 2014 will be remembered for the people I now know from blogging and for me beginning my career search.

So I think that’s it. No real major events. No random kids. No random marriage. Not really anything that would mean something to someone else, but that’s okay. It was my year.