Ten Years

Today is the tenth anniversary of the very first post on this blog!

A lot has changed in my life in those ten years where Panorama of the Mountains is one constant.


Married for just over a year with no children.


Married for just over 11 years with a 9-year-old and a 5-year-old.


Rented the top floor of a three-decker in Somerville, MA.


Own the top floor of a three-decker in Jamaica Plain, MA.


Worked in an academic library’s access services department specializing in interlibrary loan.


Work in the same library’s special collections department as a processing archivist and records management analyst.


Worshiped and was very active in a local Catholic church community.


Worship and not quite nearly as active in a local United Church of Christ community.


Didn’t own a cellphone and never planned to get one.


Smartphone addict.


Commuted everywhere by bike.


Still try to bike, but end up using public transit most of the time.


It seemed that personal blogging was going out of style just as I was getting started.


I was right. Nowadays people who get attention as “bloggers” are professional journalists and writers (or those who want to be professional) writing online, and the personal blog has all but gone by the wayside.

And yet I keep blogging.

This past year has been particularly fruitful as far as blogging.  I’ve been more consistent in writing and posting regularly (everyday for a time from December to June) and participated in The A-to-Z Challenge.  I’ve always felt that the audience for this blog is myself, and I’ve founded both a handy outlet for personal expression as well as a great reference tool to go back and see what I wrote about a particular thing at the time.

Nevertheless, I find it discouraging that I see a lot of bloggerss out there have built a community around their blogs with a core group of people commenting and reading one another’s blogs.  I’ve never been able to replicate that kind of interaction here despite various tactics including posting every day, writing on a variety of topics, participating in challenges, commenting on other blogs, and promoting my posts on social media.  Perhaps what I write is just not very interesting to most people.

Going forward I’m thinking of making changes to this blog starting in the new year, perhaps even coming up with a new name (suggestions are welcome).  I’m thinking of working on the quality of my posts rather than the quantity, so I intend to continue to post consistently if less often.  Here are some changes I have in mind:

Book Reviews
Movie/TV Reviews

I expect that these types of posts will continue to be common. Instead of saving them for a particular day of the week to publish, I think I’ll just go back to posting them just after I finish reading/watching/photographing.  I’m also hoping with the book reviews to become more literary and expansive in my discussion of the books.

Beer Reviews

I’ve reached a point where I find myself looking long and hard for beers I’ve never tried before so I can review them and it’s getting exhausting.  I need to reduce my beer consumption in general so I’m going to ax the beer reviews.  Perhaps if I try a particularly remarkable beer I will post a review about it, but it won’t be a regular feature.

Song of the Week
Album of the Month
Podcasts of the Week

I’m going to join these all together into a monthly “What I am listening to now” post, and again work on my narrative style of reviewing and reflecting on these things.

Music Discovery

This was fun to do, less fun to write about, and most likely dreadful for you to try to read.  I’m going to revamp this as a once-a-month feature, and instead of the album-by-album synopsis just work on writing up an overall narrative of the artist in question with a list of favorite albums and songs.

What else?

I’d like to continue to strive to write on politics and current events.  I wrote a few good posts in the past year, but I always find myself taking so long to get my thoughts together on an issue that it ceases to be relevant.  I hope to be more timely and make a positive contribution to these discussions and debates.

I’ve an idea for a series on my favorite TV shows of all time (much like I’ve done for books, albums, and songs) but the posts would be more narrative and tying together themes rather than making lists.

And perhaps I’ll finally write the series on urban development and transportation issues I’ve long been ruminating over.

Thanks to everyone who has read, commented, and shared Panorama of the Mountains over the past decade.  I hope to make it worth continued reading!



The Comment Challenge (August)

I’m once again signing up for The Comment Challenge in August. I previously signed up for the July Comment Challenge, and here on July 1 I already have a comment from my partner!

The basic gist is that participants are paired up to read and comment on each other’s blog.  That’s it, pretty simple!  I pledge to make 5-10 comments on my partner’s blog, although I hope I can do more.

The Comment Challenge is hosted by Lonna @ FLYLēF and Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense

The Comment Challenge (July)

I signed up to participate in another challenge, this one called The Comment Challenge.  It will be running in June, July, and August this summer.  I missed sign ups for June, but signed up for July and probably will sign up for August as well.
The basic gist is that participants are paired up to read and comment on each other’s blog.  That’s it, pretty simple!  I pledge to make 5-10 comments on my partner’s blog, although I hope I can do more.  Following up on my last post, I’m hoping this is a way to make connections and make blogging feel less solitary.

The Comment Challenge is hosted by Lonna @ FLYLēF and Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense

While waiting for the Comment Challenge to begin in July, I plan to try to make two comments each day on blogs I read (not including responding to responses to my comments).


Just want to take a moment here to point out that I have published at least one post on Panorama of the Mountains every day since December 1, 2015. As today is May 31, 2016, that means my posting streak is now at six consecutive months! In my nearly ten years of blogging, I’ve never even approached a consecutive day streak remotely approaching that long, so I want to take a moment to savor it.

In the past six months, I’ve published 306 posts (including this one). Dear lord, whatever did I have to say? I hoped posting more regularly would mean that I’d see an uptick in readers, commenters, and followers – which I have – but this is still a very lonely blog. If you like what you read here, drop me a note or share it with your friends on social media, won’t you?

According to my stats, these are the five posts from those 306 that interested the most readers:


Here are ten of my favorite posts  from the past six months which I think are worth reading, or re-reading, commenting, and sharing:

And then there are all 27 of my posts about Jamaica Plain for the Blogging A to Z Challenge!


Questions for my fellow bloggers:  How often do you publish blog  posts?  What ways have you found effective to attract more readers, and better yet, to make connections with fellow bloggers?  Have you have written anything you love and find it ignored?  I’d love to hear other bloggers’ experiences!


Blogging from A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

This April, I’ve signed up to participate in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  The basic gist is to blog for every letter of the alphabet for each day in April with Sundays off for good behavior.  So on April 1st I’ll blog about something that starts with A, on April 2nd I’ll write about something starting with B, and so on from there.

I pondered a theme for a while and them I remembered that I long ago had the idea of doing an A to Z for my own neighborhood, Jamaica Plain in Boston, but never got around to it.


So let me officially announce…

JP A to Z

All April long I will post a photo and a little bit of text (I’m keeping these short and sweet) about something in the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain.  If you have anything you’d like to suggest, let me know in the comments or email me.  I’m looking forward to meeting and interacting with other participants in the A to Z Challenge and seeing what other people are posting this month.

New Panoramas from the Mountain

Happy Leap Day!

First, I just want to brag a bit that I’ve managed to put up at least one post every day for three consecutive months!  That may not seem a lot to some bloggers, but for me it’s like a record of 91 consecutive days and counting (and 131 posts in that time).  The blog had been fallow for a while, and I’m happy I could find the time and energy to breathe new life into it.

Second, you may have noticed a lot of movie and tv reviews lately.  While I never got around to actually announcing what I was doing, I had challenged myself to a 35 Days of Movies challenge for the last week of January and all of February.  While I didn’t reach the goal of watching and reviewing one movie a day for 35 straight days, I did watch a lot more movies than I’d had in the past few years.  Going forward, reviews of movies, tv shows, and any live entertainments will be published on Wednesdays.

Finally, I’m going to introduce a new feature in March called Music Discoveries.  The basic idea comes from my friend’s blog Desert Island Mix Tape when he listened to the entire back catalog of the Bee Gees and then wrote it up. While I don’t plan to listen to the Bee Gees, I do plan to seek out bands & artists that I’ve heard good things about (and maybe familiar with a limited amount of their output) and do a deep listen of all their albums and write up my thoughts.  Music Discoveries will be a regular feature on Mondays.

For a full schedule of Panorama of the Mountains posts, see the About page.

I’m hoping that with more regular posting that more people are reading and enjoying my blog.  If you are one of my four or five readers, please let me know what you think.  Leave a comment below, tweet me, and feel free to share your own blog!

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 22,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

2015 Year in Review: Memorable Events

I started a tradition back in 1996 of making a list of the most memorable events of the year.  My definition of memorable can include both the positive and the negative, but generally it’s the good things that make the list.  That first list in 1996 had exactly twenty items, so I’ve made the list a top twenty every year since.

Here is my 20th annual list.

  • 1) January-February – Boston Blizzards – It’s hard to believe that sometime in late January 2015 I was wondering if the kids were going to get any snow days because winter had been so mild.  Then we were hit by blizzard after blizzard accumulating ludicrous amounts of snow on the way to a record 110.6 inches, including 94.4 inches in just 30 days from January 24- February 22, 2015.  It was crazy, it was annoying, but it was also fun, and we all survived with a little gallows humor.

  • 2) February – Snowshoeing – I went snowshoeing for the first (and second) time at the Boston Nature Center and found it a really enjoyable way to enjoy nature in the snow. I’m going to have to get my own snowshoes and plan some longer outings in the future.


  • 3) March onwards – Daddy Brew Club – My friend Mike got a homebrew kit and has had me and other beer-loving fathers over on several occasions to brew, bottle, and sample beer.  The social aspect is the key part of the activity although occasionally the beer also tastes good.

  • 4) March 19-21 – MARAC/NEA meeting – The New England Archivists meeting is always fun and this one was extra special as our Mid Atlantic regional colleagues joined us for a joint meeting in snowy Boston.  There was a pub quiz and guided walking tours of Boston led by yours truly in my Boston By Foot hat (followed by beers with my fellow archivists).
  • 5) April-October (but especially the last three months) – The New York Mets pennant-winning season – Since my children were born my time to follow sports evaporated and in recent years as my son has become a baseball fan I spent more time following the Red Sox, but this season I made a concerted effort to return to following the day-in/day-out exploits of my first favorite team, the Mets.  And boy did I chose a good season to do so, as the Mets started off hot with an 11-game win streak, regressed to the mean for a while, and then after gaining new players at the trade deadline and star players returning from injury they caught fire in August and September to win the division.  The exciting season continued in the playoffs against the Dodgers and Cubs, but sadly the good run came to an end against the Royals in the World Series.  But, oh, what a run!

  • 6) April-December – Museum of Fine Arts membership – Got a membership for the first time in years and spent several days visiting and closely studying the art in this terrific museum (1, 2, 3, 4, & 5).
  • 7) April 23-26 – Trip to New York City – Peter, my mother, and I went to New York, visiting the American Museum of Natural History, Coney Island, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Bronx Zoo.
  • 8) April onwards – bicycle speaker – I got a speaker that sits on the handlebars of my bike and thus I can listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks as I commute to work.  Such a small thing makes such a fun improvement to the daily grind.
  • 9) May 17 – Greenway Art & carousel – A gorgeous Sunday afternoon admiring “As If It Were Already Here” suspended over the Rose Kennedy Greenway, followed by a few spins on the carousel.
  • 10) May-October – Casey Overpass Demolition – Each day another piece of the elevated highway in Forest Hills was removed opening up new spaces and vistas.  A fascinating process.
  • 11) June 6-July 5 – Women’s World Cup – Another exciting tournament with many great games.  Our United States team started off shaky but got better as the tournament went along, with dramatic wins against Germany in the semifinal and Japan in the final.  Whether watching with our friends on Cape Cod or with crowds at Boston City Hall, we believed that we would win!

  • 12) June 7 – Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon – Pedaled this terrific charity ride with both of my children for the first time.
  • 13) June 13 – PawSox Game – The whole family took in this game with our church group meaning that there were lots of friends in the stands.  As an added bonus, it was Star Wars night *AND* fireworks night.

  • 14) June 28-July 1 – Cape Cod – With our friends the Rosenblatt Rossos we stayed at a rental house in Eastham, swimming in the Bay and the Ocean, roasting marshmallows and creating arts & crafts, and watching the Womens World Cup.
  • 15) July 11 – Green River Festival – A fun festival with music and balloons, but even better, a time to play with extended family.
  • 16) July 31-August 2 – Camping in Maine – Took that kids for their first camping trip at Recompence Shore at Wolfe’s Neck Farm.  Hiking, biking, a farm visit, fresh veggies, and Portland Sea Dogs baseball were all involved.
  • 17) August 31-September 4 – Daddy Day Camp – A week with no school and no camp, so I took the kids on a whale watch, on a Duck Tour and Skywalk, on the Freedom Trail, and to the Barnyard at Retreat Farm.
  • 18) October 10 – Connors Farm – pumpkin picking, a corn maze, and all manner of autumnal pleasantries.
  • 19) October 18 – Boston By Foot Dark Side tour – I lead a special tour for a church group and invited along some dear friends not in the church and had my son take a tour with me for the first time.  A special afternoon of for this tour guide.

  • 20) December 27-30 – Myrtle Beach – a holiday visit with grandparents, uncle, aunt, and cousin at a South Carolina resort town. We saw a pirate show and lots of gators, played minigolf and much, much more.


9th birthday, belated

9 years and 11 days ago I published my first post on this blog.  Blogging was already going out style when I started and these days if someone is known as a blogger they’re more likely to be a paid columnist than an enthusiastic amateur.  I’ve always maintained that I am the number one audience for this blog and it’s still the way it works, both as an outlet for my need to write and to go back to read and remember things.  Still, I’m a little envious of the bloggers who are able to get communities of like-minded folks to discuss things on their blog posts.  I’ve never been good at the whole socializing thing in real life so I guess I’m wallflower her too.  Nevertheless if you ever have a moment to share a comment or the blog or tweet me (@othemts) about something on this blog, I’d appreciate it.

As I begin the 10th year of this blog, I have some ideas of things I’d like to write about (assuming I find the time and discipline to write about all the things I’d like to write about).

  • A series on urban development issues – making cities better through improved and increased housing, public transportation, and bicycle facilities.
  • Music discoveries – where I listen to a lot of music by an artist or band I don’t know very well and write about what I learn.
  • Movie reviews – I don’t watch movies much anymore.  I’m thinking of doing “30 Days of Movies” or something like that.

Of course book reviews, beer reviews, photographs, and commentary on important issues will continue.

And don’t forget my other blogs!

Hooray for blogging, and hooray for another year.


The Podcast Revolution?

I’ve been surprised about the recent declarations that podcasts are the next big thing ever since the success of “Serial” (discussed at length in the latest podcast episode of To The Best of Our Knowledge).  Mainly this is because I’ve been listening to podcasts obsessively for the past ten years.  And I don’t mean this in a hipster “I did it before it was cool” way, I just assumed that lots of people were already listening to podcasts, even before I discovered them.

Anyhow, if you happen to be new to podcasts, here is my updated list of favorite podcasts.  (Ironically, I listened to the first episode of “Serial” and wasn’t interested in the rest of the series.  Maybe I’ll check out the next series).

Feel free to share your favorite podcasts in the comments.

Related posts: