Posts Tagged ‘unique blogs

23
Mar
09

A Deceased Soldier Blogs His Goodbye

andrew-olmsted

It would be, without a doubt, the hardest blog post that anyone would have to write in their entire lives.  It makes our struggles to blog about the mundane things in our lives (while they, too, have their special meaning and purpose in life) seem small and irrelevant in comparison.

Major Andrew Olmstead began blogging after his unit was sent to Iraq to help train the Iraqi Army.  His writings were posted at four blogs:

(1) AndrewOlmstead.com (2) Obsidian Wings (3) Winds of Change and (4) his local newspaper The Rocky Mountain News (Colorado Springs) where he blogged a column called From the Front Lines (his perspective from the front lines in Iraq).

He also blogged constantly throughout his service in Iraq (no matter what the circumstances).  He outlines eloquently his reasons for blogging on the “About Me” section of his personal blog.  I’ve reposted it below:

This is a vanity site that gives me the opportunity to comment on current events, or anything that catches my eye. What I post here is intended to put my thoughts on particular issues up for discussion; I do not pretend to be infallible or anything close to that. When I post something, it is what I believe, but it may be based on inaccurate information or faulty analysis. Where that occurs, I look to my readers to help me find the facts and improve my analytical abilities. As this is a vanity site, I have no regular publication schedule, (although I generally post daily), nor do I receive any editorial guidance. But thanks to the magic of the Internet and the kind souls who’ve gone to the trouble of linking here it does provide me the opportunity to contribute in some small manner to the philosophical and political questions of the day.

Major Olmstead took the time to write what would be the last blog post he would ever write in his life — his final thoughts about his life, people, love and… yes, the war.  He then instructed a friend to upload it to his blog (AndrewOlmstead.com) if he were killed in combat in Iraq.

On January 3rd, 2008, Major Andrew Olmstead was killed in an enemy ambush in Iraq.  His final post was uploaded to his site shortly thereafter.  I won’t say anything about the post.  I believe that, if you choose to read it, you will certainly come to your own conclusions (which I welcome discussions on).  I will say that Major Olmstead’s selfless service to his country and people reminds me that there are no excuses for not doing what you really want to do in life (even blogging).

Major Andrew Olmstead’s Final Blog Post to the world can be found here.

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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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