Blog etiquette

Granted, I’m new at this blogging thing. Maybe I’ll find some thoughts about blog etiquette, but for now, I think I’ll just e-mail people and organizations I link to saying, “Hey, I’m linking to you. Here’s the address.” That way, they’ll at least know that someone is linking to them, and perhaps they’ll even link back. That’d be cool, eh?

Nagging doubts

So I started in on making my little media outlet happen. I got a new e-mail address. I built a couple blog pages and linked them together. But now, I’m starting to have an attack of the dreaded Nagging Doubts. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Do I have the time for this?
  • Will anyone care?
  • Will anyone actually pay to advertise on the site?
  • Do I have the technical skills to pull this off?
  • Is this a big enough priority for me that I’ll put in the time to really make it happen? Even bigger than, say
    • Jazz school
    • Bebe
    • The garden
    • Taijutsu
  • In the big picture, why do I want to do this? Is it just a change, or really something I want to pursue?

I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 on Sunday, and I was outraged, pissed off, and ready to go do something. I didn’t know what, but clearly, I had to do something. Then, yesterday evening, I heard Democracy Now‘s broadcast of Arundhati Roy’s talk Public Power in the Age of Empire,” and, man, talk about really having to *do something*!

I figured that a really good something to do is keep people aware and educated about what’s going on in the world and how they, personally, can work to change things if they don’t like them. This seems like a decent concept, but how to put it into practice? Of course! The rapidly growing blogosphere is the perfect place! Ah, but again, the Nagging Doubts.

  • Will the people around here really go online for news?
  • If they do read an article, will they contribute anything to the blog, even if it’s just to tell me to feck off?
  • Who am I to make this machine that’ll potentially help steer entire communities?

OK, so maybe I’m getting a little grandiose. Maybe I’m a little too self-absorbed. Maybe I should do a little more planning before I launch. Or maybe I should just jump.

Hey, I’ve got an idea

I went to martial arts (bujinkan budo taijutsu, for those of you who are curious) practice tonight, got punched out and tossed around a little, dished out some of the same (My training buddy, Pete, is an incredibly forgiving and patient guy, seeing as how I always unintentionally whack him in the face at least once a class. Then there are the times I mean to hit him…), and later on, as I was stretching out, I had an idea.

Now, those of you who know me will realize that’s really just not that rare of an occurance. But I started to think about this one, and the more I think, the more it seems like something that could work.

I was thinking about journalism, and specifically the news coverage of the area I live in. Now, granted, there’s not a whole lot going on up here, but the immediate area around the Chequamegon Bay (a warmish extension of Lake Superior) has somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 people. And there’s always a little something interesting going on. Heck, just on the waterfront alone this summer, there’s been a drowning, a couple of boat rescues, a visit from a three-masted schooner, another visit from laker bringing coal to the local power plant, a smallish regatta, and a really big walleye caught. And that’s just in the past couple months, focused on one part of the community.

I think maybe there’s a niche for a local news source that’s a little different than the mainstream stuff you find in any smallish town. For starters, let’s put the thing online. Only. At least for now. After all, there are already two papers, The Daily Press and the Lake Superior Sounder that give people plenty of opportunity to get soy ink all over their fingers. Not having a print schedule means that I (the web site) can go to press any time I have something ready to roll. I don’t have to wait for the printers to come in, and I sure as heck don’t have to pay them.

Next, maybe there ought to be a way for all sorts of people to weigh in on current issues and share their opinions with the rest of the community. Oh sure, the other papers already have letters to the editor, but isn’t it way easier to get really pissed off about something, log in, and just let ‘er rip? No hassel with e-mail, or, for heaven’s sake, postage. Just rant and click. And for people who don’t want to sign their names to their posts, we could even have a “Coward’s Corner” where people can vent anonymously. Pansys.

Finally, I could do this for not a whole lot of money. I’d need a digital camera, of course, but since I’d only be posting stuff to the Web, I could start with one of those fabulous two-megapixel specials for a hundred bucks. I’d need a cell phone. Another hundred bucks, give or take, plus service. I’d need e-mail, but that’s free. I’d need a computer. Oh, wait… And I’d need a place to put all my content. Again, I say to you, “Oh, wait…”

That’s right. I’m thinking of using a bloggish sort of setup to do this. I’d need to check the rules and regs about commercial use, but I’m sure I could swing something. And then I can go to local merchants and sell them adds on the site. I could let people sponsor a day for $250. I could let them sponsor a story for $75 or so. And boom: I’ve got an income stream, and I’m helping local folk keep abreast of their community. Especially young people, and computer literate people.

The great thing about this gig is that I could launch without too much financial stress or time committment. I could try writing one opinion pience and maybe one news thing a week to start with and see how it goes. See what traffic is like, that sort of thing.

Hmmm… I’ve got another idea…

A really good day

Here I am, with my proverbial wallet out, showing almost complete strangers pictures of my kid. This is a cultural phenomena that I’ve never really understood until today.

Today, my wife (aka “Windy Britches”, aka “Stink Bait”, but she’s allowed; she’s pregnant.) and I went to the doc for our 20 week ultrasound. So, I thought to myself, we’ll see some grainy, rough images of the kid, maybe see the head, or a bloth of hand or two.

I was *so* not prepared.

I saw my child wriggling around in my wife’s belly, sucking his or her thumb. I watched my kid’s jaw move while working that tiny little digit. I saw his or her heart beat; could see each chamber of the heart. I looked at each hemisphere of the kid’s brain, at it’s spinal cord, at it’s foot (OK, so that was kind of blotchy).

I was (and still am; as I write this, my eyes are all misty) totally blown away. That’s my kid. I’m *really* a dad. Holy crap! Talk about really bringing things home for me. Wow.

Yeah, so for the rest of the afternoon, I’ve been walking up to anyone who’ll stand still for 30 seconds and asking, “Hey, you wanna see pictures of my kid?” I’ve been at it enough, maybe Ashland will pass an ordinance making this sort of photo-accostage illegal, or at least highly frowned upon. I’ll have to start meeting other parents in the parking lot behind Country Kitchen with all the stoners and motorheads and be like, “Pssst! Hey lady, wanna see some pictures?”

FOOT NOTE: As you may have gathered if you’ve been paying attention, I didn’t get a clear look under the hood, and truth be told, that’s the way ol’ Windy Britches and I want it. It’ll be fun to have a surprise when the kid makes his or her grand entry into the world.

Mixing business and “pleasure”

I revamped a mini Web site I keep at work to let everyone know what I’m working on. I’m using the site to learn CSS better (yes, Dad, that’s a legal use of my time at work ;-)) and to keep everyone up to speed on what I’m doing, since it seems to be the topic of considerable debate at times.

Though the pages look pretty basic, I’m pretty proud of them since they represent almost completly my own effort to learn how to build CSS pages. I didn’t even rip off any code. I took the really long road to CSS semi-glory. I did have a little help at the end from one of my co-workers in figuring out some background image stuff, but other than that, it’s all me!

I hope to refine the design some in the near future and make it a little better looking, a little less angular. But one thing at a time, eh?

Dev /Null

I just had an incredibly ungracefull conversation with a friend. I stopped by his office to say “hi” since I hadn’t seen him all summer (him being a college professor). He made a really cool linoleum print for a Christmas card that was drying in a stack on his desk. I asked him about it, and kind of generally made chit chat with him, but the whole time, I felt like he couldn’t wait for me to leave.

So I left.

And I’ve been picking up that same kind of vibe from a lot of people I work with. I wonder what the deal is. Am I being paranoid? Am I just being incredibly receptive to other people’s moods? What’s the deal?

I guy I got hired to help me with my job for the summer seems like he’s actively trying to take my job. First he moves into his own office space, then he started using my title in his e-mail signatures, and now, my boss goes to him when she needs something done. There’s a legal term for this sort of thing. I believe it’s:


On the positive side of the ledger today, though, I got a call from my wife. Or rather, a voice mail message. She said, “I’m calling for completely no reason other than to tell you I love you!” Talk about making my day…

Moving forward

I didn’t realize that it’s what I’m doing until I explained it to a friend this morning, but I’m slowly putting myself into a corner, from which the only escape is selling some writing. And mind you, this is on purpose.

I’ve never had problems writing for other people. They just tell me what their deadline is and set me loose. I come back, almost always ahead of deadline, never behind it, with good, solid (sometimes even fun!) writing. For some reason, I don’t do that for myself, though. I’ve given myself deadlines, then laughed at them as they fly by. I’ve given myself structure, only to smash it later. I’ve even tried to cajole myself into writing, which is really hard to do when I’m not listening to me.

So far, it’s only my journals (this blog being one of them) that get attention. But that’s a starting point. “Knowing is half the battle,” says G.I. Joe. Now, I’ll just work on my own projects in my journals. Maybe I’ll even start something in the blog.

Oh, mystery! Oh, suspense!

Oh yeah… the point

You ever get so carried away with your rant that you forget your point? Yeah, me neither.

It’s like this: There is no easy answer. Each of us has to make our own decisions, and more importantly, be willing to live with the consequenses. If I take off the counter link to whatsit, then I directly reduce the income potential of the fine folks who made the code freely available in the first place. So then future purveyors of fine Web sites like this one will have to pay for the ridiculous things.

On the other hand, if I leave the link in, then I maintain my implicit endorsement of whatever the whosamawatcha’s site may be saying or selling, not to mention giving my electronic thumbs-up of the traffic-for-functionality currency the Web currently runs on.

I could change the link, but that’s almost worse than removing it. It’s way more underhanded and devious. It’s changing someone’s work without notice, and without changing their byline. I hate it when people do that to my work.

Here it is ladies and gentlemen: The moment we’ve all been waiting for…
The Point:
Chart your own course. Sail it. Enjoy the scenery. Repeat.

Like lemmings to the sea

I have joined the crowd. The flock. The herd. I say “baaaah,” and relish each syllable as it rolls off my tongue. I have added a hit counter. That way, I can know how many of you don’t come to read this rambling monolouge.

Like a good boy, I started the counter at 0 and left in the silly little ad link. I wouldn’t click on it if I were you. Like the naughty boy I truly am, I’ll be taking out the link to whereever once I feel like the crew of the mother ship has had ample time to probe my poor little blog. I actually doubt they’d waste their time. I mean, come on. If I had enough traffic, time, and talent, why (oh dear god, *why*?) would I put a silly little graphical counter on the Web page? And since I don’have enough of the holy trivecta, is it really worth a company’s time to make sure I’m toeing their particular line in the sand?

This is the same dilema faced by anyone who has pirated music on thier computer. To paraphrase one of my favorite bands:

Should it stay or should it go now?
If it stays, there will be trouble
If it goes, it will be double
Come on and let me know:
Should it stay or should it go?

Then, to be really accurate, a spokesman for the RIAA dressed all in black leather, and with plenty of dark makeup and black fingernail polish, should storm onto stage, grab a mic, and scream:


Here’s what I figure:

  1. The vast majority of working musicians are following their dream, putting their creativity and chutzpa out there on a daily basis. We should reward them for this because following dreams is the only thing that’s ever gonna change the planet for the better.
  2. Since we (I’m talking about Americans here; Sorry rest of the world; I don’t know how it is for you so I’ll be damned if I’m gonna speak for you (unless of course you want me too, in which case, I’d be more than happy to. Have your people call my people and we’ll do lunch.)) all share this mass delusion that we have to have newer and faster boxes that sit unused on our desks at home and at work — how many billions of floating point operations per second does it take to type that e-mail, Bob? — I figure we can damn well afford a buck a song or so, especially if most of it goes to the artist.
  3. I have a small, cold, dark corner of my heart for big corporations that try to tell me how to live my life; try to take our (as in yours and mine) world away from us; wage business as war. So I say stick it to ’em, but only if you’re ready to live with the consequences, which right now are:

    “The online infringement of copyrighted music can be punished by up to 3 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Repeat offenders can be imprisoned up to 6 years. Individuals also may be held civilly liable, regardless of whether the activity is for profit, for actual damages or lost profits, or for statutory damages up to $150,000 per infringed copyright.”
    So sayeth the RIAA.

    • Of course, the best way to stick it to the corporate man is to not buy his crap. Litteraly. Keep your dollars in your pocket. Come on, you can do it, big spender!
  4. If you really want free music, write your favorite artists, and make your case. Maybe you can convince them to post a few MP3s online. Maybe they’ll send you the complete box set of all their work ever. More likely, they’ll say “No, but thanks for asking.” So you’re back where you started, no harm done.
  5. Ask yourself this: If I was trying to make a living by sharing something beautiful I made with other people, how would I feel if they ripped me off?

*Gets off his soapbox and dusts himself off*

And now, to breakfast!

Poetry, photos, musing

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