Archive for the 'Featured Blogs' Category

31
Mar
09

My Latest Blog Crush

cupid

Yes, it is wholly ridiculous to have a crush on anything other than a human being or a pet.  But blogs… blogs are special.  At their best, they not only inform but they also validate your cause, help you take that next step in your journey and (on that rare and lovely occasion) lead you down an unexpected but exciting new path of thought, discussion or action.

I love finding new blogs that interest me that I can share with other people.  I found two blogs (about blogging) that I think are great tools for anyone with blogs (and let’s face it, there are probably thousands of blogs online proclaiming to be essential help for bloggers).

Rather than run down a list of reasons why I like these two blogs, I’d love to hear if you find them helpfull and bookmark-worthy yourself!

The first blog is BlogPerfume.com. Launched in 2007, Blog Perfume mantra is simple and, like good perfume, very alluring:

We pick the best WordPress themes, plugins and blogging resources.

We love and enjoy blogging as much as you do. We would like to collect all the useful WordPress themes, plugins, and blogging resources for pro-bloggers. Makes Bloggers life a lot easier.

How can you not love that?  The content, the writing and the design of the site are just as clean, straightforward and alluring.

blog-perfume

The second blog is a dedicated to social media and is called, aptly enough, SocializedPR.com.  Socialized PR is an odd little blog that seems to have a lot to say (and, so far, I’m listening).  I also don’t want to post a picture of the blog as it will give away its unique design as well.  That is all I’m going to say about that (just check it out for yourself).

Thoughts?


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18
Mar
09

I didn’t blog today because…

BlogComics.net

BlogComics.net

Blogger’s block is something everyone faces from time to time. Even the most proficient and prolific bloggers complain they run dry of topics and inspiration on occasion. But they keep at it, and they notice that the blocks come and go, but constancy makes for consistency of keeping their blogs alive.

Here are some quick ideas to keep you in the mood, and some things to consider that may get you over the hump of being blocked:

Read other blogs. Google the topics that interest you. Find blogs that are radically different from your opinion or belief system. The mental stretch may spark something, and get you ready to fire off a heated comment on other’s blogs. Do so, and then write a blog post about it on yours as well.

Do you have Evernote? Jott? Do you mark favorite tweets on Twitter to go back to later so you won’t forget them? Writers routinely keep notebooks of ideas, these are just 2.0 ways to keep notes for later…especially useful if you think the well has gone dry.

A picture is worth..well, a blog post, at the very least. Do you take pics with your iPhone of things that atract your eye, make you laugh, make you cry? Do you sketch, doodle, draw on a note pad, or the back of business cards? Have a flickr account? Visuals will create strong impressions, both on you and readers. Load them onto the blog and write about it. Or don’t, and let the picture tell its own story.

Use your Seinfeld brain. Jerry Seinfeld’s television show was considered brilliantly funny, yet was a show about…NOTHING. The cast of characters became quirkier the more we looked at them, but at first glance seemed very commonplace. How about looking at what you’ve written before? Go back to an old posting, one that really makes you proud. Maybe you can rewrite it, six months later, with a different point of view. Don’t be afraid to revisit old topics, your audience will forgive you. You might actually develop much deeper content with a series of posts that are linked together through a theme or subject.

Prayer and meditation are fine things to do. After you have done that for a while, it’s time to just bite the bullet and write. But just dip your toes in the water. Write a half dozen post titles, and don’t plan on using any of them. Make a bulletpoint list of 7 things your bloggers should know. Don’t explain it, just make the list. Write a thank you note to another blogger who inspires you (you need not send it, but we all can use support). The act of writing will beget more writing. That’s usually the effect. If not, you have permission to go back to square one, reading, observing, enjoying a good laugh or fuming over an opposing position. Take heart that you’ll get past the block, and with repetition, the exercise will make you a stronger blogger each time you do.
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12
Mar
09

Hot Blog: Running from the Camera

running-from-camera

Running from the Camera is a prime example of how you can take any subject matter or idea (no matter how seemingly inane) and turn it into an entertaining and, in this case, an odd (yet charming) blog.

A blogger by the name of Muggezifter in Rotterdam chose an awesome and intriguing topic for his blog:  himself… running away

It’s unabashedly simple bordering on rediculous.  He takes pictures of himself running away from his camera after he sets the timer and posts the photos without comment or text (except for the location of where the photo was taken).  The photos are taken in various locations throughout the Rotterdam.

Says Muggezifter of his blog:

The rules are simple:  I put the self-timer on 2 seconds, push the button and try to get as far from the camera as I can.

You would think something like this would get old quickly (how many times can you see a photo of a man running from a camera before your attention wanders elsewhere – never to return to the blog again?).

But actually, my response has been quite contrary to annoyance and boredom.  The compilation of photos of him running away from different locations, on different days, in different weather, wearing different outfits is almost poetic and artistc.

Depending on your philisophical outlook on life, the photos can either speak to the belief that we can never be truly happy all of the time because we are always running from one thing to the next or an affirmation that life is exhilirating because there is always something new to run to.  Or, it can just be a photo of some dumb guy running away from his camera.

No matter your take on it, you have to give him credit for originality (unless, of course, any of you can point out where this is being done elsewhere — in which case, do tell!).

He has a couple of other blogs as well but Running from Camera can be found here.

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08
Mar
09

If Ralph Kramden had a Blog

Ralph Kramden (The Honeymooners)

Ralph Kramden (The Honeymooners)

Ralph Kramden (a fictionalized character on the classic television show “The Honeymooners“) drove a bus in Brooklyn for the Gotham Bus Company.  Wikipedia describes Ralph’s plight:

He is never seen driving a bus (except in publicity photos), but is shown multiple times at the bus depot. Ralph is frustrated by his lack of success, and often develops get-rich-quick schemes. Ralph is very short tempered, frequently resorting to insults and hollow threats. Well hidden beneath the many layers of bluster however, is a soft-hearted man who loves his wife and is devoted to his best pal.

Dan Christensen - Trimet Bus Driver

Dan Christensen - Bus Driver

Dan Christensen is a real human being who lives and drives a bus in Portland, Oregon, for the Trimet Bus Company.  He is a proud bus driver who documents his trials and tribulations driving a city bus for a living on his blog Trimet Confidential.  He humbly sums up his life in one neat paragraph:

Born and raised in Portland I have traveled across the world only to end up right back here in my home town.  I work as a bus driver for Trimet while I work on all sorts of creative projects. Right now I’m working on a graphic novel podcast.  I will let you know more when I know more.

I recently stumbled upon Dan’s blog quite by accident.  What a treasure it was to find!  I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoy this blog. Granted, the design is woefully simple and not nearly as effective as it can be. It feels and looks dated (which actually contributes to its charm more than detracts from it). It’s not on WordPress (gasp!).  Nor does it have all the bells and whistles that most blogs do like RSS subscription, social media share buttons and widgets.

But what Dan’s blog does have is heart. His blog is one big heart. His love for people, his job as a bus-driver and his love of life reaches out, grabs you and hugs you. His honesty, sincerity and the simple, straightforward way he tells stories and shares observations about his life as a bus driver makes you wish you could sit with him in a bar (a pitcher of beer and two mugs between you) and shoot-the-breeze with him until the bar closes.

He is reflective and self -deprecating.  His writing is refreshingly blunt and unapologetic (even when he is, in fact, apologizing).  For example, on March 1st, Dan wrote a post called “One Bus Driver Trying to Save the World”. He begins the lengthy post with the following confession:

First let me admit that this has been the hardest post for me to write. I fear it will upset many who read it and it’s longer than [a] country music ballad video so I think too many will just stop reading. I have no idea why this article is burning in my heart all I can say is, I have to write this. It is like a block in my soul and until I express it nothing else seems able to get past.

But Dan is also funny and is just as revealing and endearing when his humorous side takes over. In his post on March 6th called “My Ten Strange Bus Driver Factoids,” Dan’s very first factoid is a darkly deranged one that caused me to laugh out loud (and almost choke on my orange juice – thanks Dan). Here he explains his first Bus Driver Factoid:

The smell of diesel exhaust is a sweet smell to me. I know my nose is crazy but it does smell sweet. I can tell a diesel truck or car or that one has been here recently just by sniffing the air. In the morning when it’s cold they fire up all the buses in the yard to get them ready for us… It’s like an apple orchard in spring to me. I know I’m sick. If I had to commit suicide my first choice would be smothered in the breast of Selma Hayek, my second choice would be diesel exhaust in my garage…if only a bus would fit.

Hysterical!  He even offers pearls of bus driver wisdom in how to cope with difficult people (and he ought to know):

Bus drivers collect flip offs like office people collect paperclips. Usually I just laugh to my self. If people on the bus see it I announce that “If we get ten of those in a day they let us go home early.” If I have to respond here is what I do. First I make the Ozzy Osborn sign with my hand. Some people call it devil horns, I think its American sign language for love. I touch my middle finger to the tip of my nose..go on do it now…you know you want to. Then I rotate my pinky up and down like some sort of crazy pump and without removing my index finger… Yes you got it. I will usually get puzzled looks of “What ever” but it almost always turns off the anger and flips the confusion switch.

Turn off the anger and flip the confusion switch – wisdom indeed.  Of course, he reveals the secrets of bus driver culture and camaraderie:

Of all the parts of my job that I love, the most top is the Bullpen. This is the big room all the drivers gather in at the start and end of their shifts. They call it the bullpen because the bull$&@# is piled high and deep here. I think every bus yard all over the world has their version of the Bullpen and our Bullpen at Powell garage in Portland Oregon is great… Without the atmosphere of Powell and the good people I work with this job would not be worth it. I think there is little worry about that ever happening.

Even Dan’s ratings system is thoughtful and unique.  You can rate each post as: “Bacon-worthy (10) — Cheese worthy (3) Beer worthy (2) or Unworthy (0)”.  How can you not love a blog that has a rating system that includes bacon, cheese and beer?!

As I mentioned earlier, the blog isn’t the most visually appealing (and there are more than a few typo and spelling errors).  But it is forgivable because the content is so good.  It has one lonely widget suspended in empty space on the left column of the site which, ordinarily, might seem puzzlingly skimpy (why only one widget when there are hundreds out there to choose from and plenty of room on your page?).  It turns out that one lone widget is powerful and effective precisely because it is the only widget on the page and its content (a slide show of photos Dan takes driving his bus including fellow bus drivers and customers) is like the cherry on a huge piece of moist double-chocolate cake.

Dan and his blog are a throwback to the birth of the blogosphere when blogs were personal diaries from ordinary folks who just wanted to share their life experiences in the purest sense (void of any desire for web fame or huge followings or SEO gold). Their online personal journals revealed just as much about us as it revealed about them and we loved them for that.

I imagine that if Ralph Kramden were of this age, he would have a blog exactly like Dan’s (except with an added section for his harebrained, get-rich-quick schemes). I hope Dan doesn’t mind the comparison, but he is a modern-day Ralph Kramden.  For all of Ralph Kramden’s faults and dreams of success that always came crashing down from the stratosphere of his hopes to the reality of his life, we always rooted for (and empathized with) him because he loved his wife, his best friend and, yes, his blue collar job.  And even though it often frustrated him, he did his job with integrity and a genuine love for the people and the responsibility bestowed upon him.

Thank you Dan Christensen. Trimet Confidential is definitely Bacon-worthy.

You can visit Dan’s blog here and follow on Twitter here.

INSPIRATIONAL TRIVIA!

The Honeymooners only ran from October 1, 1955 to September 22, 1956?  It was the #2 show in the country (behind The Perry Como Show which reigned at #1).  The Honeymooners quickly dropped to #12 and was canceled after only 39 episodes (trounced by other more popular shows including Perry Como).  Today, if you asked ask the average 20-something year old to explain what the Perry Como Show is, you’re likely to get a blank stare for an answer.  But if you ask that same 20-something about The Honeymooners the answer will likely be detailed and at least elude to them having seen it before or telling you that it’s still on the air somewhere.  To this day, over 50 years after it was canceled, the Honeymooners is still on the air and is considered one of the quintessential examples of the classic American television comedy.

Judging by their low ratings and quick demise, you would think The Honeymooners would have disappeared into the black hole of canceled and forgotten tv shows. But, quite the contrary and against all odds, it secured a prominent (and royal) place in television history.   So remember, no matter how small your blog’s audience is (compared to the “big blogs”), your unique voice can and will make a difference to those who are touched by it. Ultimately, history will be our judge (not Google Analytics).

Here is the “original” opening credits for The Honeymooners featuring a sponsored ad!  Hats off to Jackie Gleason, the rest of the cast and bus drivers all over the world!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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03
Mar
09

BlogPuzzle.com archives millions of blogs

A new site went live today that has put the “p” in puzzle.  It’s called Blog Puzzle.  Though I’ve gone to their site and sniffed around, I honestly have no idea what it really is or how it works (so a puzzle it is indeed).

The home page says:

Hello, I’m a website of million blogs.
Well, not just blog, it can be a video channel, photo stream, twitter, or any web 2.0 profile.
Let me tell you how it works.

You can browse me in 2 ways:

Full view shows all the content in 1 page. Every avatar is so small that it looks like a black pixel.

By this point, I was already lost (remember, I still don’t know exactly what this site is).  Yet, I’m curious.  So I continue to read:

Page view shows one of 2,500 pages. Every page has 400 cells, you can take any free cell you want and place your avatar linked to your blog in it. Get a second cell and make a combo-avatar like the one with an elephant and a bear. Invite a friend to take a cell next to you.

At this point, I was very tempted to click away from the site.  But there was more (there is always more).  So I hung in there waiting for the big payoff — clarity:

Every cell has a coordinate: 1-1 (page 1) is top left and 999-999 (page 2500) is bottom right.
2,500 pages are placed in a square 50 pages high and 50 pages wide.
Every cell on “minimap” is a page:

It was at this point that I felt my brain frying.

In all fairness to BlogPuzzle.com, I didn’t give the site a fair amount of time considering the fact that it is clearly “different” and reaching for a new aesthetic in archiving blogs.  But having said that, isn’t the point of archiving to make mass quantities of information easily and readily accessible (archives shouldn’t be a “puzzle” – they should just “be”).

There also is not a lot of content on the site so I’m more than willing to check in periodically to see how they progress (and even cheer them on).  It’s not that I don’t believe that websites shouldn’t offer us a challenge, I just don’t think in this day and age when there are millions of sites and limited attention spans that it helps to have a site that is not immediately user-friendly.  This will be interesting.

I couldn’t find much on this site when I tried to research it (Techcrunch hasn’t posted anything on it yet).  I’d love to know your take on it.




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