Blog saves trees—

An electron based progress report,
by Jack Eden



       Recent improvements include adding to the Critical Reviews page; I scanned and OCRed several reviews that I have in my possession and began to add listings previously unknown to me.

       As for books, I have begun re-scanning Signs and Seasons. Also added a link to a newly online book, Squirrels and Other Fur Bearers. The Pepacton hypertext is complete; I linked all the pages in the Index. Locusts and Wild Honey is mostly done; mainly needs its index linked.

       Google no longer has the site's images in the database; however, the image crawler is going through the site, so I expect they'll be online again.


       The pages have had a tendency to look different, as I played with different tags. Today I began to standardize them; worked on Library Page and Critical Reviews Page.


       Today I completed the formatting for the Locusts and Wild Honey hypertext. It takes a surprisingly long time to format one of these. As I was doing that I found two more transcription errors—grrr. I also "improved" the front page. Search engines need more than photos to describe page contents, so I spelled out my storefront sign for them. Also I tried to begin summing up Burroughs' writings in a few snappy phrases.

       How do you sum up a writer, who wrote about so much? Nature writer, sure, but not in the way we think of nature writers today. Burroughs talks about fishing trips, birding, the way he sees the world... Do fishing and hunting articles count as nature writing? To me, nature writing is about nature itself; Burroughs always seems to bring nature back to some relationship to man. I need to revise as I classify these writings further.

       Finally, I cited my original source for the photo on the front page, a copy of Harper's Weekly, from 8 Feb 1902, which I scanned. It has proven a difficult image for the web. The original was dull...flat and dark. That is how it often appears some monitors. On others it is beautiful and warm toned.


       The site is back online. I had let the subscription slip, but all is again well. Since I blogged last, I notice that images from the site now appear in Google. The site was online almost a year before the search crawler took notice of the photos. It was worth the wait.

       Worked on the photos page today; I corrected the a link in the Literary Values section. Fixed a table on the main photo page. Updated this blog.


       Not much time to write today, but I just had to put the day's searches down. The last in particular has made the site worthwhile [search for "Whitman's birds as symbols"]. Whoever was searching wanted to know something about Whitman and his use of symbology with birds. The search took him/her straight to the Burroughs section featuring Whitman's poem and Burroughs' commentary about "Once, Paumanok." This passage makes birds the very symbol of emotions, hurtling through the air.

       Not much time for new Burroughs thoughts today; I am working on a "personal memoir" for a teaching class. But like every kind of writing I do, I end up tying it back to Burroughs. His writings were memoirs, accounts of specific events and times in his life, usually a walk or a trip.

       I am seeing a variety of hits from search engines to Burroughs works. Many of these are coincidental, as the link of someone researching the problems with a Mercury Sable automobile. Others make me think that the site is fulfilling its purpose of plugging Burroughs' works back into mainstream consciousness—the person researching Emerson's Humble-Bee poem was probably not looking for John Burroughs thoughts on the poem specifically, yet clicking on the search link shows that Burroughs' words on the poem are among the few now available to the average user who wants access to free information from a home computer.

      I spent a busy night reading about different writing styles, and found my mind wandering back to a little gem that has been with me ever since I read it in Wake-Robin, page xv. Burroughs makes a metaphor about the relationship of the writer and what he has written to the world. He uses the bee and honey to say that the one does not simply write down what one sees out in the world. The good writer is not distant from his subject: a writer that is intimate with his subject, who creates warmth gets in close. He imparts a bit of himself in his work instead of statically describing. Don't know if this was the major thing separating Burroughs from other "nature" writers of his day, but it is worth checking out.

      The feeling of intimacy is something that Ralph Fletcher steers readers toward in his book, What a Writer Needs. He uses contemporary examples, but then pulls in Thoreau (as a saunterer) to describe a leisurely attitude which encouraged reflection (69). That is what got me thinking about Burroughs. Burroughs knew both Thoreau and Walt Whitman. He wrote about both authors, and perhaps learned this leisure lesson from both. I know that Whitman had such an attitude; he called it "loafing". Burroughs too set up his life to engage in this; at that stage of his life when he described himself a farmer (a profession in which there is a large amount of waiting, while crops grow), he was producing essays. If he was too busy in the summer, then there was always the winter, with its cold image, seen through his window, that reminded him of the cold bank vault where he wrote the essays of his first two books.

      I am working on schoolwork this week; site improvement slowing down. Here are searches that led to John Burroughs related work in the past two days [deleted]. There seems to have be a growing interest in the photos from the Riverby Edition books that I have placed online. Many of the hits to the site that are not web-crawlers are connections to photos.

      I recently got hold of a set of the "Wake-Robin Edition" of John Burroughs writings. As William Perkins mentioned on his web site, these do not seem to be from the Riverby Edition plates, but from the Riverside Edition plates. This edition seems to have fewer photos than the original Riverby Edition.

      I have completed a trip to Chicago, where I found many public domain (by date) reviews of John Burroughs' books. Have posted 2 to 3 to the web. I am beginning a new entry to my blogs; It is interesting to see what searches bring people to the site. I am going to add these to the blog [deleted].

      Updated Critical Reviews page to reflect the fact that the possessive form of Burroughs has an s' instead of an 's. Actually, at the time I wrote 's, I was influenced by the 19th and early 20th Cenury reviews that I was reading and converting to digital text. I found examples of Burroughs', Burrough's and Burroughs's for the possessive form. The question in my mind was should I standardize the titles in the tables.

      I decided yes, as I was only using the titles in a couple cases. For the most part, saying Burroughs' is redundant on the table. These are all reviews of his work.

      Received emails today; it is nice to see that the site is beginning to be seen. Thank you, folks, for responding.

      Am heading to Chicago for a couple days; I plan on visiting the University of Chicago to look up magazines that my home university (University of Iowa) doesn't have. Between these two schools, I should be able to get copies of 99% of the reviews that I have found in various indexes. Many are public domain, so they can be digitized and put online.


      Yesterday and today I reworked the photo page. Now it is set up to include every photo from the Riverby Edition. I put photos from Wake-Robin through Signs and Seasons online. I have captioned the photos from the books' tables of contents.

      I need to add a section for John Burroughs Photos not from the books.
I am about to purchase the Wake-Robin Edition (23 volumes) of John's writings. I am told that these come from the Riverby Edition plates, but were put into a slightly different order.

      On an observational note; there is a bunny rabbit on my apartment's front lawn. It is about the size of my two fists put together; so far it hasn't discovered that the complex's marigold flowers are delicious rabbit food. Last summer I saw a young rabbit consume the flower heads from at least ten marigolds in about 5 minutes. The university had them all in a grid pattern, and he went from plant to plant, eating the tops off. Also saw a rabbit pursuing another today; it kept nuzzling the other's hind quarters....

      Grackles squeak outside our bedroom window in the morning--they have a nest in the oak tree outside, as does a downy woodpecker. The grackles seem to enjoy chasing squirrels. They don't fly after them, but pursue on foot.

       Doves and chickadees, and house finches seem to be our main feeder birds this summer, except for the woodpeckers at the front feeder, who like peanut butter suet.

      Today I finished putting together the hypertext for Wake-Robin and uploaded it to It includes the photos. The photos show the curvature from using a wide angle lens; I shot them handheld, and was having a hard time using a telephoto lens at the same time I was holding the book open. I can fix that later. What remains with this book and with Pepacton is to link all the page numbers in the index to the anchored pages that I created.

      Each page now has its own home on the net. A person can send a link to the specific page in the document, not just the address to the book's address.

      I am thinking that the javascript that I am using to open the photos in a new window probably will also hide them from current web-crawlers. I will expand the photo section off the home page to put in standard links to photos so that crawlers will see them.

     Fresh Fields was read via Abby last week; I am waiting to actually pass my human eyes over it—I tend to proofread most effectively from my palm pilot. There is something to be said for being able to switch one's body position while one reads. The desktop machine keeps one too still. Anyway, I have to mail the palm off today for warranty repair. Estimated time to begin proofing is three weeks. Should only take a couple weeks after that to get text online.

      Finished adding pictures to Pepacton Hypertext. Uploaded picture version of Pepaction Hypertext. This is the book to have accompanying photos on my site. Added a link to Wilson's paintings. As of now, I have html versions of the first six books of John Burroughs' writings, a hypertext for Pepacton, and text versions up for Pepacton, John James Audubon, Time and Change, My Boyhood, and Birds and Bees. Only the Pepacton text is my own, the rest are Gutenberg's by other Gutenbergers.


Copyright 2005 Jack Eden
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