On August 30, I published my month in review article for August 2020. In that post, I announced an ambitious plan for September: “I look forward to working with Victor to publish one piece of content every day of the month – 30 articles in 30 days. As usual, we will cover a wide range of content…” With the instant September month in review post, I can say that we accomplished the mission plus one, publishing at least one article for each of September’s 30 days and 31 articles total. In this post, I will review the month that was and offer a preview of what you should expect for what promises to be an eventful October here at The New Leaf Journal.

"Autumn Studies" by Rudolf Eickemeyer (1908).  This skecth was included in "In the Open."
“Autumn Studies” by Rudolf Eickemeyer (1908). Clipped from In the Open.

The Best New Leaf Journal Content from September 2020

Before selecting a few pieces from September to highlight, I humbly recommend seeing our entire catalogue of 31 September articles in our monthly archive. While Victor and I worked hard on writing, editing, and posting each article, below you will find six that I singled out for special mention.

The End of the Western Roman Empire

Posted by N.A. Ferrell on September 4.

On September 4, 476, the boy-Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, Romulus Augustulus, formally abdicated the throne to the German chieftain, Odoacer. This moment is generally considered to constitute the de facto end of the Roman Empire in the West. After I wrote a long article about the later fall of the Roman Empire in the East last May, I thought that it would only be fitting to give the West similar treatment. In this article, which was the longest piece of content we published since July, I cover the events leading to the ultimate fall of the Western Roman Empire and reprint in full a detailed history of its very final days. There is plenty to enjoy here for those who already have an interest in Roman history and for those who want to learn something new.

Bed in Summer, Bed in Winter

Posted by N.A. Ferrell on September 5

“Bed in Summer, Bed in Winter” was one of my favorite September articles to write, so I will take this opportunity to bring it to the attention of more readers. The post was prompted by a charming children’s poem by the esteemed Robert Louis Stevenson about a child who bemoans the fact that he or she has to go to bed while the sun is still high in summer. September marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, so I took the opportunity to look at the child narrator’s analysis from an adult perspective, with a few personal anecdotes. I conclude with a second Stevenson poem suggesting that even when the sun disappears in the late afternoon here in the northern hemisphere, we can still enjoy some of the unique aspects of the season.

Is my cat deaf, or does she just not give a…?

Posted by Victor V. Gurbo on September 10.

In Victor’s first September article, he gives the humorous account of his attempts to ascertain scientifically whether his beloved cat, Pumpkin, is deaf. In the alternative, Victor considered the possibility that Pumpkin is not deaf, but simply has no interest in anything that he has to say. In addition to being one of the most humorous pieces published at The New Leaf Journal, this article was also special in that it marked our 100th New Leaf Journal article, a milestone I will discuss more in our next section.

Victor V. Gurbo poses with his cat, Pumpkin.
Victor with Pumpkin.

Lysander and Cyrus the Younger’s Garden

Posted by N.A. Ferrell on September 18.

I will concede that on a few occasions, my self-imposed mandate of one post per day put me under some pressure in the evening to identify a prompt and convert that prompt into content before turning in for the day. This post was one such example, but I think it came out quite well. I skimmed through a magazine published on September 18, 1852, and found a charming re-telling of the story of an encounter between Lysander, a Spartan admiral, and Cyrus the Younger, a Persian prince. In the story, Lysander admires Cyrus’ garden and praises whoever designed and created it, only to find that the responsible party was none other than Cyrus himself. After reprinting the article in its entirety, I discuss some interesting points about aesthetics and the life lived well, in the spirit of our Emu Café.

The Longest Year of School Finally Ends

Posted by N.A. Ferrell on September 26.

Last week, one of my favorite anime series of the last decade, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, concluded nicely with an episode that tied up the show’s lose ends and provided catharsis for the main cast. After offering a bit of non-serious-spoiler context for the majority of you who have not seen the series about a single year in high school, I discuss a poignant line that the writer of the underlying series of books included in the afterward of the final book in the series. Therein, Wataru Watari wrote that, after concluding his eight-year writing project, he could finally say that his own second year of high school, the longest year of his life, had finally ended. Much like his creation, I think that sentiment is broadly relatable, and I discuss it in some detail in my article. I offered some additional thoughts on the show in last week’s newsletter. For those who are interested, I will have more to say about the series down the line.

Working to Save The Bitter End

Posted by Victor V. Gurbo on September 27.

Finally, I conclude these highlights with Victor’s article about his participating in efforts to save The Bitter End, one of New York City’s most important and historically significant music venues. In the article, Victor discusses The Bitter End’s immense history, having played host to American music legends for six decades. The Bitter End is not only for the legends, however, but also hosts musicians who are looking to make a name for themselves. Victor shares the memorable story of his first performance at The Bitter End all the way back in 2012. The post includes the full video of The Save The Bitter End live stream that Victor participated in and a link to the GoFundMe for the fundraiser if you would like to contribute to this worthy cause.

Century Milestones for The New Leaf Journal in September

New Leaf Journal readers will know that I am a fan of the magisterial 19th century dictionary, The Century Dictionary, and that I sometimes use its pictures and definitions for our content on site, including once in September. This month, however, we had our own century events.

First, as I noted above, Victor’s September 10 article about determining whether his cat is deaf was our 100th New Leaf Journal article. I celebrated our 100-article milestone with a post listing some highlights from our first 100 articles.

TI-89 graphing calculator made title card for The New Leaf Journal's 100th article.
A special TI-89-made title card for our 100 article celebration.

Yesterday, on September 29, I achieved a personal 100 milestone – publishing my 100th article on The New Leaf Journal. I need not write an entire article to commemorate my own 100 article accomplishment, but I will encourage you to read the post that brought me to the century mark – the story of overhearing a snippet of a conversation between a newly dating couple during which the woman tells the guy that she does not deal with men who were in jail.

September Successes and Snafus

The New Leaf Journal Twitter account has not been the source of heavy traffic, but we had an unprecedented social media success for the site when the official account for Vivaldi – my preferred internet browser – retweeted an article that I wrote about using The Great Suspender chrome store extension on Vivaldi. That re-tweet set in motion a series of events wherein The Great Suspender review unexpectedly became the most-read article in The New Leaf Journal’s short history. I covered this minor social media success story on September 24.

We did have a couple of minor issues this month, albeit nothing on par with the summer’s caching troubles. There was, and still remains, a mysterious Pinterest tracking script on the home page of The New Leaf Journal. I wrote about this annoying issue on September 21. I hope to sit down and work out how to clear that script this month so we can continue to make The New Leaf Journal a more privacy friendly site. In the meantime, I recommend ensuring that you have tracker blocking implemented on your web browser, both for harmless trackers like that Pinterest one and invasive ones found on many other sites that you frequent.

In September, I did meet our target of sending a newsletter on all four Sundays for the month. Unfortunately, on September 27, the eighth edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal had a formatting problem, leading to it showing three pictures and an indecipherable mass of text. I will work to ensure that I can better check emails before resuming the email newsletter. You can read about that incident and see the newsletter as it was meant to be in an article I posted on September 28.

"Mr. Envelope," the charming mascot for The Newsletter Leaf Journal made with love by N.A. Ferrell in Microsoft Paint.
Mr. Envelope, The Newsletter Leaf Journal mascot, crashes another article.

A Slightly Less Ambitious Article Pledge for October

To begin, I will not repeat my pledge to post at least one article every day in October. While I am glad Victor and I rose to the occasion to post at least one article every day in September, there were, as I noted, several occasions where I was scrambling for inspiration late in the evening after a day of work. I think that the quality of my posts held up well, including the posts I did on short notice, but I would have likely been able to complete a few longer pieces had I been able to take a couple of days off from posting.

This is, of course, not to say that we will not post 31 articles in October, just that it is not a goal for the month. I will make sure that we publish at least 5 articles every week, but there may be one to two off days for some weeks in October while we take the time to perform site maintenance and work on future content.

If you want to make sure that you always receive our latest content, I encourage you to subscribe to our RSS feed or our second newsletter, our daily RSS newsletter from Feedburner.

"Mr. Flame," the fiery mascot for The New Leaf Journal's Feedburner RSS newsletter, made with love by N.A. Ferrell in Microsoft Paint.
Many of you may not know about our Feedburner RSS newsletter. Mr. Flame is here to spread the word.

Content to Look Forward to in October

Although I am not promising an article every day in October, Victor and I have some exciting plans for the month ahead.

Below, you will find a sample of the content we have planned for October. We will also be working on other posts, short and long, as the month goes on that we have not planned far in advance.

Victor’s Game Project

To start, Victor is mastering the intricacies of the video game design program, RPG Maker MV. He has already created several small projects as he learns how to use the RPG Maker’s powerful design tools. This month, he is working to create a complete game, or substantial demo, by the end of October. While I will be helping Victor with testing and writing, he is taking the lead on design for this project. We look forward to not only writing about the project, but also giving New Leaf Journal readers the ability to download it when it is ready. We will provide more information about this exciting project and future game design work on site this weekend.

Spooky Game Reviews

Although I was never a big Halloween person, I discovered quite a few Halloween-themed games in my computer video game library, something that had gone mostly untouched for several years. Since we will be seeing Halloween paraphernalia in stores while retailers begin transitioning to Thanksgiving (you can never be too early, after all), I will work on several pieces reviewing free and cheap Halloween video game content on The New Leaf Journal.

Book Reviews (Finally)

In addition, my game review project, I will work on several book reviews this month, something that I have been planning to do for a while and will now carve out more time for. I will mix reviews of retail books with reviews of free books that are out of copyright and easily obtainable on sites such as Project Gutenberg and Archive.org.

Future Feature Articles: Presidents, Pokémon, and Privacy

Finally, I have three long-form articles in the works.

First, I have a half-finished article bringing together former presidents Benjamin Harrison and Calvin Coolidge, both of whom I wrote about separately around July 4. That article was in progress around the time I moved to my new computer in August, and it is a good time to finish preparing it for publication.

Second, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the release of the iconic Pokémon Gold and Silver for Game Boy Color in the United States, which I happily purchased on launch day, I am working on a long article tying the start of that grand adventure to the beginning of autumn. You can expect to be able to read that article on the afternoon of Thursday, October 15.

Third, I am working on a piece about the privacy of children in today’s day and age, where it is not uncommon for a teenager to have had his or her entire life from infancy documented on social media. This idea is prompted both by stories I remember from the simpler times of my own youth and an interesting document I stumbled across on the very dreaded social media that I am wont to complain about. I do not have a specific target date for this piece, but I expect to post it in the first half of October.

Site Work Slated for October and Beyond

In return for not forcing myself to ensure that we post articles every day in October, I will take some time to work on a few technical things for the site.

First, I will try to finally clear up the Pinterest tracking script issue. It involves some technical work that is beyond my normal site administrator capabilities, but I think that the task should be doable with a bit of work. Although it is a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, it is part of my project to ensure that our site loads expeditiously and is privacy friendly.

Second, I will study how we can host Google fonts locally, which would promise to both make the site quicker and more privacy friendly. This is not an issue I am fully committed to implementing in October, for doing it incorrectly would run the risk of breaking the site entirely, but I will study it and see if I can find a way to complete this process in the near future.

Third, I plan to work with Victor on finally creating a true logo for the site that we can employ on all of our properties. This project has been on the back-burner since the summer, but I will make it a priority to complete in October.

Fourth, once the new logo is created, I will revamp our About the Site page and ensure that it provides an up-to-date introduction to The New Leaf Journal.I also plan to work on a terms of service page along with implementing our final privacy fixes.

Fifth, we have two social media projects in store for October. We will bring The New Leaf Journal to MeWe, a privacy-friendly alternative to Facebook. In so doing, we will introduce the platform and what it has to offer, and the Facebook users among us can see if there is enough there to consider trying the new service. In addition to adding MeWe to our social profile, I will create a central page for all of our social media profiles, for the site and for our various projects, to make following The New Leaf Journal and associated accounts easier for those who are so inclined. This will serve as a replacement for including links in our widget area on the site sidebar, which I decided to abandon after the Pinterest tracker incident.

Parting Shots

Thank you, as always, for following The New Leaf Journal. If you are a return visitor to the site, we hope you have been enjoying our content. If you are new, we hope to see and hear more from you in the future. We think that both returning and new visitors will find plenty to enjoy at The New Leaf Journal over the next month. If you have missed any of our best content from September, you can catch up with some of the links in this article.