Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Blogging Virus

After blogging for just a little over two years now, I have finally caught the Blogging Virus. This may be a little hard to understand for those of you who don't blog yourselves so I will explain it to you. Compared to the other bloggers who grace the screen here at The Whacko Blogs, I am relatively inexperienced. I think that makes me the best candidate to explain this Blogging Virus issue because I have recently caught it.

There are hundreds of reasons that one may choose to start a blog. Generating a reader base is probably the biggest reason. Whether you're an author or a business owner, it's nice to generate a large following to promote whatever it is you're selling. Maybe you're an "expert" in your field and you want to share your knowledge and grow your own through research, writing and feedback. Or, if you're like me, you just like to ramble on about stuff and it's fun to see it online.

Whatever the reason for starting a blog, we all start out at the bottom with nobody looking. That is of course assuming you start your own from scratch rather than joining another established blog. It's not a bad thing to start with few followers because it gives you a chance to get the hang of it without thousands of eyes watching your every fumble in the early days. (FYI- Fumbles still happen in the Pros too....or so I'm told since I'm not there yet.) 

So where does the Blogging Virus kick in? It's different for everyone. For me it was around the two year mark. At that point I suddenly went from a relatively unknown blog hidden on the internet to having my views shoot up and the comments started rolling in. That writer-reader interaction spike is what did it for me. I can say that I write for myself all day long, but in reality - it's a lot more fun when your readers are interacting with what you do. I've made a number of new friends along the way too!

I found Google+ to be the driving force on my personal blog. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have their place, but I have found Google+ to be the most beneficial when it comes to blogging. It seems to be a more effective and productive platform for blog and blogger interaction than the others. That doesn't mean I gave up on the other platforms though. (This was my #fixtheplus plug.)

Ok. Back to the virus thing.... Blogging is a passion for whatever reason you find drives you, but it doesn't start out as contagious. In the early days you may struggle to find your niche and generate content to write. Once that Blogging Virus kicks in though, there's no turning back. 

I have people ask me all the time how I come up with ideas for blogs. Well, first of all, they're not all great ideas and I admit that. What I have learned though is that the more blogs I write, the faster the content seems to come to me. If I set a schedule to write one post a week, I would probably struggle for an idea because I couldn't narrow it down. I have found that writing closer to one a day seems to generate more ideas that I have the time to write out. 

When the Blogging Virus hit me, I started branching out to other blogs like Life Explained and The Whacko Blogs as alternate platforms to ramble on for a new group of readers. Blog sharing (or whatever the "real" term is) has kicked my Blogging Virus into full gear. It gave me multiple platforms with slightly different themes to fit my blogging ideas. Sure, I could have just created more offshoot blogs of my own, but I would have been missing the best part of the Blogging Virus - Collaboration. 

Working with other bloggers, sharing ideas and playing off each others' posts is a blast. It gets the creative juices flowing. In an instant your head full of ideas just explodes. It's contagious. The good thing is that this Blogging Virus isn't something to be afraid of. It's something you want to nurture and grow. 

I am now surrounded by amazing bloggers and continue to learn from them on a daily basis. I also have a new group of readers I get to interact with. All in all, I am having a blast and I don't see it slowing down any time soon. I am thankful to all the bloggers who let me write on their blogs (like Jeremy here on The Whacko Blogs) and for all the readers who provide feedback and comments that stimulate new ideas. If you're blogging already - keep it up. If you're not - give it a shot. The Blogging Virus is easy to catch and it spreads quickly. Until next time....

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Smile, and a Little Hope

Yesterday I was driving home, and had to stop at a traffic light. I was turning right, but it was a busy intersection, and there were several cars in front of me. These two factors combined led to the inescapable conclusion that I was going to set there for a while.

After the light changed as many cars as could turned quickly, then the pedestrians walking through the crosswalk slowed progress. During the waning seconds of the green light, and it was easy to tell because of the flashing “don’t walk” sign a car swung out, just so he would be in the lane, and make it around the corner, even after the light turned red. Not entirely legal, but common practice.

A young lady walking across the street stopped, and raised her hands in disbelief. Glaring menacingly at the driver, who was stopped and really had no intention of going further until she passed.  Then she extended her middle finger and held it up at the car. She finished crossing the street.

Why did she do that? I couldn’t help but wonder. What possibly made her feel that was an appropriate response? And in that one moment I saw the bigger problems of life. That one gesture of angry defiance against a simple act of misplaced time management was a microcosm of our world.

You see it driving to work, you may even take part in the play. Somebody cuts in front of you on the freeway and your first response is to lay on the horn, move in close behind the offending car and follow them at high speed until time or circumstance forces a break in the chase. What is this going to accomplish?

Is the offending driver going to feel remorse? No, it will probably anger them, and you have just taken a foolish risk at high speed, increased your fuel consumption and accelerated the wear on your car. For what? Odds are you did not feel any better. Your heart was racing, your blood pressure was elevated, and in the end you accomplished nothing. On top of that you could have caused serious injury to people, and not just the people who angered you, innocent people whose only crime was driving on the same road.

This seething rage is echoing across the country and world. Opposing views are mocked, ridiculed. Compromise is seen as weakness, and discussion has been replaced by scorn and contempt.

I’m not really sure what the answer is, or if one exists. But, I am going to make it a mission to try every day to be accepting of those around me. A smile can go a long way, particularly when they are so rare.  It is a small start, but it is a start.   Maybe if all of you who read this come along we can change things. It is worth a try, isn’t it?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Vote Early, Vote Often

Technically, I am not sure this is the best place for this post, since it is only marginally about blogging. But, nobody seems to be looking, and I am certainly not going to taint my blog with another political post. Well, it is only slightly about politics. Well, you can decide, if it is about blogging or politics, or something else. Please let me know what you discover, I am somewhat at a loss.

Anyway, I have, in spite of my overwhelming dread, decided to accept my party's (the Life Explained Party) nomination for candidacy for the president of the United States. It was a difficult decision, but I am not getting any younger, and age discrimination is becoming a real problem (more on that later). And good jobs are hard to find, so running for office seems like a good way to make a few quick bucks, and get my name out there.

As my running mate I have chosen +Jesse Zahrt. Not so much as the vice president, more as the Co-President. But, I can hear the screams now, he is a conservative, and you are a tax and spend liberal. Yeah, I know, but that is not really a problem, because we are not going to do too much anyway.

I figure, with Jesse's Beer Club experience we can invite the houses of congress over and slam down a few cold ones, catch a little football, or the Walking Dead reruns, have some snacks, and work out all of the problems. 

It seems to me, and many people, I think, the whole problem in the Federal Government is they are just not very nice people. Oh sure, they all think they are nice, and it is just the other guys who are unreasonable jerks with Messiah complexes. But, after some careful thought, they are all just a bunch of big babies who won't be happy unless they get their way.
I am Tim Clark, and Dr. Dawg approved this message,
Or he will when he gets here anyway, he is,
for the most part fairly reasonable, after his coffee.

Nobody can resist the charm and hospitality of being invited to a beer club, with snacks. They will be like putty, they will be powerless to resist the siren's call of doing the right thing for the people. And they will have nachos. 

So, that is my post, about blogging, and politics, and life. Please vote, unless you are voting for someone else, then don't vote, that would make everybody sad.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hair, long beautiful hair, hanging down to there.

Recently, for lack of anything better to write about, and my unreasonable excitement over getting a haircut, I wrote a blog post about getting a haircut. And then +Jesse Zahrt wrote a blog post about hair. Since I firmly believe no good deed goes unpunished I have decided to elaborate on my hair problems.

My hair is the worst hair in the world. As evidenced by the pie chart to the right. This was a formal survey performed by the United Nations toward the end of the cold war. It was a misguided effort to calm the nerves of nations whose past 40 years had been locked in a tenuous state of peaceful belligerence, kind of like my marriage. (Just kidding, my wife is wonderful)

When I was young all of the really cool people had long, wonderful hair. Jim Morrison, John Fogerty, the Beatles, Clapton, Burdon, the entire cast of Jesus Christ Superstar. But, my hair was like a brillo pad, with ADD. Like Medusa's it had a life of its own. And I had to wear a pony tail, which looked like I was carrying a rodent on a my collar.

Then, when I was in my early twenties it started turning gray. Salt and pepper hair may look distinguished on an aging politician, or actor, but on a twenty five year old with a wild mop of uncontrolled curls sticking up all over the place it was decidedly uncool.

So, at thirty, I decided to get my haircut short, and have never looked back. Occasionally, after a few glasses of wine, and some Grateful Dead, or Hot Tuna I will say to my wife, "You know, I am going to grow a pony tail."

She will sigh, and say, "Whatever you want." And then I will drift off to a world in which my hair is fantastic, like Jeff Bridges' hair in "The Big Lebowski," Man, did it look good.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Things are Heating Up, Or Maybe Just Becoming Absurd.

I didn't watch Matt Lauer hack and choke and stumble through his Presidential Forum last night. I don't much care for Matt Lauer, he always seems a little pompous, freighted, arrogant. And the candidates are worse. I live in fear one of them will be elected, wait. The producer is telling me one of them will be elected. Oops, the last vestige of hope is stripped away.

But, it seems people are angry. It seems that people feel he treated Clinton more like a candidate and Trump more like a celebrity. Not in the sense of "well Mr. Trump, how do you get such amazing height on your shiny, lustrous hair?" At least I don't think he asked that.

But, this is going to be the burden of the public for the next two months. Clinton is a politician with a record, and a history. Things can be questioned, votes, decisions, actions are available. Trump is mostly a television spectacle.

He said "I was opposed to invading Iraq." Even though there is overwhelming, empirical evidence that he was in favor of the action.  And nobody questions why a reality television "personality" is on record taking a stand on the actions of his government.

How did he feel about Obama's expensive modernization of the nuclear arsenal? That has always bugged me, and seemed disastrous, what does he think of it.

And while I am at it, how does Mario Lopez from Extra feel about the Affordable Care Act?  How does Steven Tyler from Aerosmith and American Idol feel about the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement?

These things are important. Who knows when Harry Connick Jr. is going to decide becoming president is a good way to retire in style. Honestly, the post presidential years are extremely profitable. Everybody loves money. How did he feel about the decision to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve?

Dangit, I have rights, I need to know, where is Matt Lauer when I need him?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hi, it is so nice to meet you, sort of.

One of the greatest things about blogging (for me anyway) is the constant self discovery it allows. Over the time I have written things, gone back to check them, yes, occasionally, I do edit my posts, and thought "wow, I had no idea I felt that way." Sometimes the words just line up and form themselves into sentences, paragraphs and complete thought, more or less. And they reflect an opinion of mine.

It is never earth shattering, or even all that amazing. Nothing that would result in jail time or extra prayers at confession. Just little, unexpected quirks, maybe personality flaws, maybe character virtues, maybe just mundane trivia, but quick glimpses into who I am. Which is a complex organism.

Over the years I have taken bits of other people and incorporated the traits I found admirable, or amusing into myself. Affectations, mannerisms, whatever seemed unique, and interesting became conglomerated into my personality.

It has made me more than I was, but it has come at a cost. I am not always sure where I end and others begin. It is not a high cost, or big expense, but it is inconvenient at times. Particularly as I age.

Something fantastic will pop into my head, and a smile will start to form. Then the doubt creeps in.

"Is that me, or Mike from my days as a masonry laborer?"

So many things from so many people, and somehow there is still a whole person, perhaps, inside. And once in a while he will take the reins and type away. And it will surprise me.

It is always nice to meet me though, and often times I have blogging to thank. So, if you need to get in touch with yourself blogging might be the answer. And if you need to get in touch with me, blogging is almost assuredly the answer. And if you need to get in touch with your boss, call, a selfie of you laying in bed complaining about the near fatal illness that has almost crippled you is not going to help your case tomorrow when you waltz into work talking about how great the fishing was.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Go ahead, start a blog, what do you have to lose

Blogging is an art, kind of, and an opportunity, occasionally. But one thing it should never become is a chore. It should flow naturally from life, it should spring from the day, it should be the bountiful harvest of living. Well, maybe not, but it should never be difficult. There should never be a time when a blogger thinks "oh, dang I have to write a post."

Perhaps a blogger on the payroll could occasionally feel put upon, an imposition, but, as an amateur in no danger of losing my unpaid status it is a little difficult to generate a lot of sympathy for a person squeezing a little coin out of a few words. Still, following a schedule, and writing to the requirements and specifications of a task master would add some challenges. But, blogging is the ultimate platform for self expression.

My life is deadly dull, tedious, mind numbing. But, my blog is where I scream with pride "if I had any life at all it would be something like this." There is some element of truth, but, not much.

What is important is that you take a blog and put yourself into the words. It is your blog, and it should be what you want. If you are spiritual, it should reflect your faith. Never be ashamed of who you are. Politics are fair game, but it will invite criticism, and counter points, so be prepared. If you like sailing, or fishing, hunting, trapping, playing card games, tell the world. There will be others that feel the same.

Blogging is your soapbox, your dais, it is the stage from which you can tell the world "this is who Iam." Or, if you want to follow down my path "this is not who I am but this is who I see when I look in the mirror without my glasses."

Here is my only advice about blogging, give it a shot, it don't cost nothing.