Getting More Traffic Into Your Street

And not just any traffic – congested rush-hour jam traffic with drivers honking and swearing and the occasional sound of bumpers crumpling. Nothin’ says lovin’ like a road-rage fist fight on the footpath. Sound good? Lookin’ forward to it?

Or how about a steady even stream of cars – occasionally stopping to wave to you as you water the new front lawn. No noise. No smells. No crashes. A little less exciting, but ultimately easier on the nerves.

Well, these two choices are what you get when you start to do a weblog column and the thing is picked up by blogging promoters – the people who want to sell you either themselves or some formula that allows search engines to find you when you go to the bathroom. Kind of like electronic cocker spaniels – presumably they sit at the door, whining and scratching.

My email inbox is full of these at present – people who ” like” some particular post but only as an opportunity to wedge their feet in the door and sell encyclopaedias. I pay the courtesy to each of these email contact of looking at their weblogs – at least once – but I select only a few to follow upon a further basis. These are written by people who are amusing, sensible, or who share my hobbies.

Getting more readers is exhilarating but at my age I can get sparkling lights in front of my eyes standing up quickly. I value praise from people I value…but not from glad-handers and boosters.

I can get that from the Indian call centres…

 

Do You High Five The Computer?

No. I point at it and yell ” Bumpah ! ” when I finish writing a knockout column.

Then I put it in the draft section and let it sit for at least a couple of days before I re-read it. If it is still ” Bumpah! ” I can post it. The two days lets me see the typos, and introduces a certain degree of calm into the thing. It also means that sometimes the exclamation is changed to”

” Trasho! ”

Thanks to Mr. W. Rogers, I am taking more of the opportunities to shut up that are presented to me. I hope silence will smooth relations with people in the future and serve as an elegant setting to the occasional flash of diamond-like wit.

Would that world leaders who resort to the mobile phone keypad whenever stressed to send out tweets were as cautious. It might prevent a great deal of angst in the rest of us.

It’s Not A Blog…

It’s a weblog column. Something that comes out regularly and has a complete set of thoughts in it. My thoughts.

It is not a poem, though there have been times when I’ve written it in poetry.

It’s not a novel. Nothing novel at all. Indeed, there are some very old things in it.

It’s not a connected story – it bounces around as new things are discovered. People say things in the street that eventually become columns here. Wait until you read ” Hey! Bring back my purse! Police! Police! “. ( Good purse but there was nothing of much value in there. Still, it goes with my tan shoes.)

It’s not a rant. One of my columns is a commercial one advertising for a shop and the IT specialist who set it up characterized it in the sidebar as a ” rant “. That actually offends me, but since they do nothing to remedy the situation I merely raise my rates for the jobs I am asked to do. The extra money assuages my injured soul.

So what is it? This one’s a daily essay based upon observation and humour. One of the others is a similar thing devoted to photographic matters – a third revolves around scale models and toys of all sorts. I am happily long retired from my first profession and need not write about teeth and jaws.

Who are my readers? You, for one. And many more, though I cannot exactly figure out how many are constant. I suspect many of the ones that notify me that they like a certain post are using their own weblogs as commercial enterprises and may have automatic programs to throw out electronic grappling hooks. I don’t mind – I do read their connection emails  at least once and have actually added four of them to my daily reading. A couple more seem to have dried up – I mourn that as they had interesting things to read.

Why do I write these columns?

a. It lets me speak freely. That’s not possible on many social media platforms.

b. It lets me crystallize thoughts and memories. If I remember it, I write it, and vice versa. At 70, any mental agility is welcome.

c. I can debunk the myths I have invented for myself and finally be a plain person. That’s hard – even the Amish have to work like devils to be angelic. I need to look at me, and reading what I write helps me to do it. Unfortunately I find others looking over my shoulder and I am aware that no admission ever really vanishes from the internet. But as long as the authorities do not find out about the incident with the chicken necks and the tax inspector I should be fine.

d. It lets me play a part that real life would condemn. The Backstabbers Guild of Australia is a wonderful haven of vile behaviour. The BGA doesn’t have a Speaker of the Senate or a Pauline, but we do have horrid practices nevertheless.

 

A Thank You Goes Out To…

a. The people who subscribe their time to read this column. I do read yours as well, but I am so confused about replying that I wonder if anything I send back ever gets to you. Some of you are quite the writers and photographers.

b. My research assistant Warren. He finds things on the internet and in the newsagencies that I miss.  It is invaluable to have a pair of eyes that know what they are looking for and light up when they see it.

c. The local hobby shop for shifting closer to my home. When I am out of Tamiya XF37 it means I do not have to go over half the city to get a bottle of it.

d. The WordPress organisation for making a device that lets me publish daily with so little trouble. I do not make as much use of the features that they provide as I might, but there are little advances all the time. Just today I learned how to edit spam followers from the email list – a recent problem for many WordPressists.

The format of this column is one of the free ones – I initially set out to do this as an experiment. I am slowly filling the storage cache for images – up to 42% of capacity in the years I’ve been writing. I’ll eventually fill the basket and then consider taking up a paid theme that will allow more storage capacity.

If you are used to seeing this column with the current settings, do not fear. It will be years before I need to change the appearance. And when it does go over, it will be as simple as possible – there is enough other confusion in graphic design.

e. The people who do things. The model makers, hot rod builders, re-enactors, dancers and all the rest that I follow and report. And a thank you in anticipation for all those who will capture my imagination in the future.

I value your enthusiasms and skills. You are the people who operate the levers and wheels of the world. You do not sit and watch petrol explosions and murders on television and imagine it to be real life – you go out there and actually live something.

f. The people who serve me in their jobs. The girls at the post office and chemist. The workers at the local hardware store. The hobby shop owners. The checkout people at the supermarket – I always use the human checkout procedure because those humans need a job and a wage.

g. The people who assist me in extraordinary ways – the bookshop owner who finds a lost book. The camera shop expert who helps me with my computer. The bank assistant who clears up a worrisome situation.

h. My family and friends, who indulge me in my little enthusiasms and occasionally applaud them.

i. People who write me letters – either on paper or the screen. A letter is a real effort at connection that the social media page can never be.

On The Trail Of The Lone Pine

If you are a weblog columnist, rather than just a weblog reader, you may have experienced this before; you go to your ” Draft ” column and find a title that seems unfamiliar. You open it and find that it is just that – a title with no essay underneath it. As you are the only one with access to your dashboard, you know that you wrote that line…but have no idea what the heck you intended to say with it.

It is like a signpost to a wilderness. That title at the top of this is just such a one.

Well, wildernesses are supposedly valuable and everyone tells us they are being swallowed up by encroaching suburbia – perhaps if I wait long enough someone will build a strip mall or a tyre dump on that page and it will stop being a blank. I would welcome this, as it would at least give some meaning, albeit vile, to my mind.

We were often told in the 60’s and 70’s to let our minds run free and to imagine that we had a right to do everything. That was a fine idea for white, middle-class westerners who had dinner waiting on the table that night and a prospect of the same every for day for the rest of their lives. The Africans, Asians, and South Americans had the prospect of being downtrodden by powerful overlords. The Eastern Europeans and Chinese had the prospect of the same thing by the faceless Party. Their minds were only allowed the freedom of wondering where the next meal would come from.

Well, times is changed. The Chinese are getting regular meals and feeling more confident in their ability to do things. The Eastern Europeans have changed the old Party for the new Czars. The Africans and the South Americans still get the old recipe. And the West gets the prospect of joining them. I hope Australia can dodge it.

Of course it may only be a matter of time before we see the next regional war – the trick will be to avoid being drawn into it. I am hoping that the Indians, Pakistanis, Arabs, and Persians will finally settle their differences over religion and territory by diplomacy instead of the good old-fashioned way…But they are who they are…As long as we can avoid being the shore upon which their burned-out warships wash up, It may serve to clear the air wonderfully. I shouldn’t wonder if Africa and South America could not do with a bit of this same old-fashioned practical diplomacy themselves. If nothing else, it would take their minds off football.

The North Koreans? They are a problem for the South Koreans and the Chinese and the Japanese and the Russians and themselves. A half-salvo from an OHIO and they are no-one’s problem anymore, ever. And they know it.

 

” Why Blog? ” I Was Asked

And it was not just a snotty question – the person I spoke with was genuinely puzzled about why I sit here tapping away at a keyboard. I could tell from their questioning that I was not going to get away with an answer like ” ” ‘Coz I Can…”.

I temporized, searching for time to give a good answer. To distract the questioner I hit  him in the head with a turnip and then wandered away thinking about the question. Here is the answer as best I can figure it out:

a. Weblog writing is a way of releasing tension. Admittedly retirement doesn’t build a lot of stress but there are always in-laws lurking somewhere in the week and you can feel your back muscles tightening just thinking about them.

b. Weblog writing brings you into contact with people who you would otherwise never meet. So does attendance at religious meetings and bar-rooms but writing involves less passing of the hat or passing out.

c. As you get older, fewer people are willing to listen to you. Weblog writing restores the chance to address an attentive crowd. You find out just how attentive when you put in lunatic messages or smutty typo errors. THEN you get listened to.

d. Weblog writing is a way to fame and fortune. And allows you to fly by tucking a kitten under each arm and making magical sounds. It said so in an article I read at the side of Facebook. As soon as I can gather the tuition fee to the Wabash Institute Of Liberal Arts I should be set for life.

e. All the time you spend writing on the web is time that you do not have to spend reading click bait on Facebook.

f. You can make lists with the sure and certain knowledge that people will read them. People ALWAYS read lists, possibly in the hope that they will get better eventually. Sadly…

g. No-one can say you nay. They may say a great many other things that bums used to write on the side of boxcars, but if they do they have to use the reply section of your blog page and that boosts your figures. You can always dump them in the spam if they are too bad or too good.

h. Weblog writing is largely free – the simple WordPress themes let you launch forth at no cost other than your time. If you are the CEO of a major oil company your time is worth a lot more than anything you can write, so this keeps you from getting on WP and ranting away. We all benefit.

i. Keyboard warriors who pop up and pop off on shorter pieces like Twitter or Facebook are forced to come up with more complete posts here in a regular column. It may still be noxious garbage but at least it is more developed. If they are going to make asses of themselves, we all get to see the beast in full view.

j. You can settle many things in your own mind if you write them out in an essay form. You can settle things in other parts of yourself with Gaviscon and Lomotil.

k. Weblog columns provide your enemies with ammunition to use against you in the future. Think how many presidential or prime ministerial candidates may already have been rejected for pre-selection based upon their web writings. There are probably auto-bot programs that seek this sort of thing out all the time. We may have lousy politicians now but think how much lousier they might have been.

l. On the other side of the coin, weblog columns also flush out the unreasonable amongst the readership. If you can get someone to explode into incandescent rage over a meme or cartoon, you can be pretty certain that the explodee is going to be unsuitable for marriage, monetary dealings, or minding the nuclear codes.

m. You can do it in bed – all rugged up and propped on a pillow. It is less effort than sex and unlike eating soda crackers, does not scatter itchy crumbs. If you itch after sex, you are sleeping in the wrong bed.

 

A New Year’s Resolution For The Little World

worldNot for Earth. I am not so arrogant as to imagine that I could think for an entire planet. I have difficulty enough deciding what to cook for dinner.

No, I mean for my little world of miniature building, photography, and other hobbies. The bits that I can manage. The bits that do not require the let or hindrance of police, government, organising committees, or paid consultants. The bits that involve glue and paint and fun.

The resolution? To look at the real world and reproduce it. In the case of the miniatures it will not be the fantasy world of the model battleship or fighter plane – it will be the real world of the local Muzz Buzz coffee stand or car wash. In the case of people photography it will be real people doing real things. Werewolves and vampires are fine, but I suspect that there is more to be seen if I just look closely at actual subjects. And then reproduce what my vision sees, rather than what a stereotype would look like.

If this sounds dead boring, it is. If it sounds great fun, it is. Just depends on who is doing the thing. I have discovered in the last year that my own memories make a fine platform upon which to build, and while they may not contribute greatly to art or science in the world, at least they can fill in some of the cultural gaps.

The same goes with the weblog columns. I’ve revamped their appearance and decided to improve the sense of rhythm as far as topics go. People will be able to see something that they have an interest in come by on the carousel on a more regular basis. Of course, I will still put in the occasional piece of iconoclasm, but then you always have to pull off a brass ring some time.