February was the busiest month for The New Leaf Journal by a wide margin, despite its having fewer days. As the month comes to a close, we review the month that was for content and site improvements here at The New Leaf Journal and look forward to the month to come.

Broderie anglaise flouncing - as pictured in the February 1854 edition of Godey's Lady Book
Borderie anglaise flouncing – clipped from the February 1854 edition of Godey’s Lady Book

Content From the Month That Was

Today’s post is our 26th and final article of February 2021. You can see all of our February articles in our monthly archive. While I recommend going through all of our February content to find the articles that interest you, I will review below what I believe to be some of the highlights.

A Month of Birds

I continued with my review of the January 1897 issue of a magazine called Birds: A Monthly Serial, also known as Birds: Illustrated By Color Photography. Although I had intended to finish the series in February, we still have two birds and an overview of several poems from the magazine to cover in March. I wrote about the following birds in February:

It is possible that my drive to finish the bird series was impaired by the fact that I wrote two additional articles about birds. On February 3, I published a post about the story of how house sparrow was introduced to the United States in the 1850s, with an emphasis on their introduction to New York City. On February 11, I published a short post about a picture I took of a pigeon taking the route less traveled to a snack.

Snow Scenes in Brooklyn

It snowed here in New York City on multiple occasions in February. On February 2, I published an article with four pictures I took around Brooklyn on the evening after our first snow of the month ceased. Yesterday, I published an article about a disturbingly ill-shapen snowman that I photographed on February 4.

Hairy Situations

I decided to change how we handle the recommendations from around the web. Instead of recommending several unrelated articles from around the web, our Sunday posts now collect content about specific topics. I debuted the new format on February 7, with a post on several stories about Japanese students with naturally non-black hair being forced to dye their hair by school administrators. Several days later, I followed that post up with an article about hair color in Japanese anime (cartoons), manga (comics), and associated lite novels, focusing on one character who is Japanese and has naturally brown hair.

Because Valentine’s Day and the end of the month both fell on Sundays, I only published one additional Sunday recommendation post for the month. On February 21, I published an article advocating for people to trade their Facebook newsfeeds for personalized RSS feeds – prompted by the Facebook-Australia news stories.

Valentine’s-Themed Content

I published four articles with some link to Valentine’s Day.

On February 13, I published an article on two nineteenth century English-language accounts of the classic Japanese Noh drama, Takasago. Both were beautifully written. This was one article I had wanted to write before starting The New Leaf Journal last year, so I hope you read and enjoy it.

For Valentine’s Day itself, I published an article about a picture of a squirrel kiss that I captured in 2018. I had sat on the picture series for a while – but what better time to bring it out than Valentine’s Day?

On February 17, I published a new Justin & Justina dialogue. In this dialogue, Justin convinces Justina that her boyfriend owes her a present for White Day, a gift giving occasion observed on March 14 in Japan, despite the fact that they are not in Japan.

Finally, on February 9, I reviewed a charming visual novel available on Steam called LoveChoice. Although Valentine’s has passed, this $1.99 story is worth your consideration.

George Washington Poems

On February 18 and February 22, I published two separate articles on poems from around the turn of the twentieth century commemorating George Washington’s birthday. Both are refreshing in their respect for Washington, and the second has a unique charm in describing Washington’s many virtues in the form of a children’s poem.

Victor V. Gurbo Returns With Music Articles

Victor posted two articles about his musical endeavors to bring February to an exciting close.

On February 20, Victor wrote about many people – including himself one time – who mistakenly believed that Johnny Cash served time behind bars. That article is accompanied by a link to Victor’s rendition of Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues with the talented Mark Caserta.

On February 25, Victor published a lengthy piece on one of his own hand-crafted songs, “Mondrian.” The post includes a video with Victor’s home recording of Mondrian accompanied by his artistic stylings. In the post, Victor discusses learning that many listeners of the song do not know who Piet Mondrian is. Moreover, despite the song’s being named “Mondrian,” victor explains that he had another artist first in his mind when he wrote it – André Kertész.

In an additional note, Victor and I have created channels on LBRY, a very interesting new and growing video streaming platform. Going forward, we will look to use LBRY to handle upcoming video content.

Site Changes and Improvements

I made several tweaks to the design of The New Leaf Journal in February, and one notable addition.

Design Tweaks

To start, I now include a link to our “Guestbook” under every post. This new field explains that the Guestbook is available for readers to offer feedback in lieu of a traditional comments section. I only thought of this idea when I saw another site with a Guestbook include this explanation under posts. The change paid dividends in February – we received several Guestbook comments on posts. As you will see, I respond to every post in an expeditious manner, so please consider offering your thoughts and feedback if you have anything to add. I look forward to reading your insights.

The next change is minor, but designed to make the site more navigable. Before February we included a sidebar widget for the five most viewed content over the preceding a 28-day period. I reduced the period to 14 days in order to encourage more turnover in the rankings. Furthermore, I expanded the list from five articles to six.

Next, I realized that many people who land on our site by following a link to a specific article do not see the homepage, which lists our most recent articles, on their visit. For that reason, I added a widget with the six most recently posted articles to the sidebar that replaces the “About The New Leaf Journal” on all pages other than the homepage. The homepage continues to use the “About” widget instead because the homepage itself lists the most recent articles.

The Microblog

I noted in an earlier Around the Web post that I was following a project to develop a solid microblogging solution for WordPress. In the interim, I found a way to implement a provisional Microblog here at The New Leaf Journal. You will find the three most-recent microblog posts on the sidebar, or just below the content for mobile visitors. I typically post one to two microblog updates daily, so be sure to check it periodically for random thoughts and tidbits. You can see all of our microblog posts in the microblog archive.

At some point, I will replace the current microblog with a permanent solution. The idea should be a part of the site in some shape or form going forward.

Looking Forward to March 2021

I do not have any specific plans to change the structure of the site itself in March 2021, although I may make changes if I come up with any ideas – which is what happened this month.

Regarding content, I will finally follow through on a few long-simmering projects that I have. To start, I have one book review that I have been meaning to put together for several weeks. Along with that, I have two visual novel review projects, with Flood of Tears requiring a bit of additional research before I am ready to post the article.

I will definitely finish my review of the January 1897 issue of Birds: A Monthly Serial. Going forward, I will continue reviewing bird articles from subsequent issues of the magazine – although I will not go through a single issue in order in the same way that I am with the January 1897 issue.

Yesterday, I figured out how to capture video from my Nintendo Switch on my computer. With that done, Victor and I will work toward publishing our Pokémon Draft Battle articles, which we announced as a project back in December. If all goes well, our three battle articles will be accompanied by video recordings.

I will post content relating to the official start of spring in the last third of March.

I do not know Victor’s specific plans, but I look forward to some more music content, and perhaps a follow-up on his popular mask review from December – which continues to dominate our most-viewed article list in 2021.

Thank You For Following The New Leaf Journal

Thank you, as always, for following The New Leaf Journal. February was a great month of content and bringing new visitors to the site. We look forward to building on what we have done thus far in our eleventh full month of posting, as we close in on the one-year anniversary of our April 27, 2020 launch.