Estimated reading time: 6 minute(s)

A brown pigeon walking down the sidewalk in Brooklyn - photographed by N.A. Ferrell.
A very aesthetic brown pigeon that I saw somewhere in Brooklyn a few months ago. Sadly, my BlackBerry picture came out a bit blurry. While I may not have done the pigeon full justice, Victor did well to salvage the picture through re-touching. Our January content includes a different aesthetic brown pigeon.

I am publishing our January month in review post on the penultimate day of the month so that we can post our regular weekly article recommendations on January 31. January has been the busiest month at The New Leaf Journal by a solid margin. In today’s post, our 29th of January, I will review some of our most interesting content and site news from the month and offer a preview of what we have in store for February.

Site Improvements in January

I made a few improvements to The New Leaf Journal in January. Because those improvements affected how I published some of our content from the month, I will lead off the month in review here.

Series Functionality

I implemented “Series” functionality for The New Leaf Journal by using a handy plugin called “WP Post Series.” This allows me to designate any article as being part of a “series.” If an article is part of a series, it will include a block with the name of the series and a description. This block will usually appear at the top of the article. Interacting with the block will reveal a drop-down menu with a numbered list of every article in the series. See the box at the top of this article for an example. This system should make it much easier for you and other visitors to find relevant related content to individual articles.

In addition to internal series blocks, I have created a Series Hub Page with a list of individual series pages. You will find the Series Hub Page by clicking on “Article Series” on our header menu. Hovering over Article Series reveals a drop-down menu with a list of featured series.

I am still working on organizing all content that can be fit in the context of an series into existing or new series. Check back with the Article Series Hub Page regularly for new series updates.

New Author Boxes

I upgraded from the free version of our author box plugin to the paid version. You will observe that the author boxes for me and Victor look neater and more modern than they did before. This change also allowed me to implement lazy loading to improve site performance. For whatever reason, my lazy loading options were clashing with the prior version of Starbox.

Suppressing Pinterest Tracking Script (Again)

The mysterious Pinterest tracking script that bothered me once before returned. As I did the first time, I managed to suppress it. This time I do not even have the faintest guess where it came from. It appears that the purpose of the script was to track how many times an article gets shared on Pinterest. In any case, I did away with it before I needed to write a new article about it. Out of curiosity, however, I will try to learn more about the issue.

Notable New Leaf Journal Content From January 2021

Below, I will list some of our most notable content from January 2021. This list only presents a selection of our content from the month. You can find all of our January content in our January archive.

Reviewing 2020

I ushered in the New Year by asking fictional New Leaf Journal friends Justin and Justina to review our most-read content from 2020. The article includes humorous commentary on the top-20 most-read articles from last year. For those who are curious, my November Pixelfed review and my May 2020 article on the last days of Constantine XI remain the first and second most-read articles at The New Leaf Journal. My November review of the Persona 4 Golden digital deluxe edition artbook moved from sixth to third and Victor’s December review of two protective masks rose from eighteenth to fourth. My August review of The Great Suspender Chromium extension, which I updated last week, fell from third to fifth.

Victor V. Gurbo on Vintage Guitars

In his sole but noteworthy article this month, Victor made the case for why vintage guitars sound better than new guitars. Guitar fans can enjoy two pictures of century-old guitars from his collection along with the interesting content.

Birds in Review

I worked to top Victor’s 1917 Gibson L-1 Arch Top Acoustic Guitar with a lengthy series on birds seen in the January 1897 issue of Birds: A Monthly Serial, also called Birds: Illustrated By Color Photography. I have reviewed five of the ten birds in the issue thus far, and plan to finish the January issue in February. The series introduction and the first five bird articles are listed in the series archive page for the project.

Existential Social Media Misery

Many of us know people who use big tech social media to the detriment of their health and happiness. Some of you may be the person who some of us know. As I previewed in my Justin and Justina dialogue reviewing 2021, the seventh Justin and Justina dialogue covered this very point. Poor Justina did not understand the concept of someone escaping social media to find happiness in the real world when social media is the real world and existential misery is the point. For once, Justin was able to play the straight man.

My Mario Party Was As Wrong As Expected

In January 2019, I inadvertently discovered that I had a nearly-twenty-year-old unfinished round of Mario Party, with one turn remaining waiting for me to address. In a New Leaf Journal article, I discussed the discovery, finishing the game, and what we can take from the story in a rather lengthy essay. Screenshots and explanations of how Mario Party scoring works are included.

A Complicated Anime Recommendation

In December, I posted a long list of anime recommendations from 2011-2020. One of my friends was perplexed as to why I omitted Usagi Drop, a series anime about parenting and family that would potentially appeal to people who would otherwise have no interest in the art-form. I explained that it was complicated, and he understood. Better late than never, I published my Usagi Drop anime recommendation, along with an additional recommendation to Sweetness and Lighting, as an addendum to my first list of anime recommendations from 2011-2020.

The Unicorn in the Snow

I published quite a few short posts centered on pictures that I took. For purposes of this brief review, I will single out my January 2 article on a unicorn and a fallen dinosaur in the snow. Come for the endearing unicorn picture, but stay for the old unicorn definitions and a unicorn story from my distant past.

Looking Forward to February 2021

I am exploring various site improvements, but I am not settled on implementing anything specific in February. If I do implement any improvements, I will note them on the site.

More Birds

To start, I will finish reviewing the January 1897 of the Birds magazine. There are five birds left to cover in addition to a couple of poems included in the issue. Going forward, I will review more birds from later issues, although I do not think that I will cover entire issues in the same way that I am working through the inaugural January 1897 issue of the publication.

Valentine’s Content

I will publish a few articles with a Valentine’s Day theme in the first half of February. To start, I will finish my review and commentary of Flood of Tears, a very obscure indie Japanese visual novel from two decades ago that has an official, albeit difficult to obtain, English translation. I will also review at least one visual novel available on Steam for the holiday. In addition to the visual novels, I will publish a few pieces on shows, movies, and literature.

Pokémon Battles

In the second half of February, Victor and I will post articles relating to our upcoming Pokémon draft battle that I previewed in December.

Reviews

Finally, one look at our most-read list will show that the top of it is dominated by “review” articles. This, unsurprisingly, is because review posts generate the most search engine traffic. While reviews are not generally my favorite things to write, they are useful to the site in that they attract new visitors. In addition, I do have some review ideas for useful products that fit in with The New Leaf Journal’s philosophy, books (finally), games, and office golf equipment (why not?). For that reason, you can expect to start seeing a bit more review content at The New Leaf Journal, with relevant internal links to non-review content.

Thank You For Reading

Thank you, as always, for reading and following The New Leaf Journal. We continue to grow slowly, and look forward to a month of perennially virid content in February. You can read our earlier month-in-review posts in our new review series.