10 Years a Blogger

10 years ago today I wrote my very first blog post.

10 years is like 1,000 years in Internet time. By Internet standards, I’m definitely a dinosaur. I predate smartphones, Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook only beat me by 13 days. Myspace was less than a year old in Feb. 2004. Friends was still on the air!

Forget Internet time, 10 years is a long time to do anything. 10 years ago I didn’t have kids. I wasn’t married. I didn’t live in Chicago. I wasn’t writing, knitting, or even really cooking anything more complicated than a frozen pizza. Apparently, judging by all my early posts, 10 years ago I was also the whiniest emo crybaby on the planet.

This is my 1,887th post. I have 2,855 comments here on the blog proper (not counting anything on Facebook, Glipho, Google+, etc.) I’ve been interviewed about blogging, been a guest blogger, and received a comment from a childhood hero.

I don’t know if I really have anything to say about it that I haven’t covered before. I mean, in 10 years I think I’ve pretty much used up all the words. So, sorry future generations, I’m the reason there are no more words left.

Who knew that when I started this thing I’d still be doing it 10 years later? I’m definitely proud of that as an achievement. Someone commented on my first post and asked if this was the first blog post in recorded history. The funny thing was, when I started a blog I knew lots of people who had been doing it for a lot longer than me. The difference is, none of them are still doing it. The vast majority of blogs don’t make it to 1 year, much less 10. So, you know, congratulations to me or whatever.

I’m not really sure what the future will bring, as far as blogging goes. It’s still something I enjoy quite a bit, but I periodically change directions around here as well. If it ever stops being enjoyable, I have to do something new to keep it interesting. Maybe that’s the secret to making it 10 years. Probably not, though; I’d have to attribute that more to pigheaded persistence than anything else. I’m nothing if not relentless!

Anyway, I hate to say here’s to 10 more years because I don’t know if I’ll still want to be doing this in 10 years. I’ll be in my 40s(!!). Ollie will be on the verge of being a teenager, and Evie will be getting ready to drive (in her FLYING CAR). Besides, by that time the two of them will have long since killed me for all the embarrassment this blog has caused them.

Cutting Back (Again)

The Internet basically only exists to suck time away from us. This is especially true in my case. Some obsessive aspect of my personality really latches on to the Internet and can’t let go. I have to friend every person and read every status, tweet, or blog post of anybody I ever even remotely knew, as well as anybody they recommend, etc. I try to suck it all up and absorb it, but the Internet is endless. There is always one more website to read or blog post to write or link to share on someone’s wall. Slowly but surely, the Internet eats me until there is nothing left.

This is not the first time I have crawled my way out of this black hole. In defense of my sanity, as well as defense of all my other hobbies (including sleep), I’m going to throttle down a little bit. So if I don’t comment on your Facebook as much as I used to, or if I unfollow you on Twitter, Please don’t be offended. It’s not because you are uninteresting. Quite the opposite in fact.

Additionally, I will also be cutting down on my blogging.

On Jan. 3rd 2009, I started posting on my blog 5 days a week. It was a little bit of an experiment to see if I could. At that time I didn’t think it would last very long. It seemed impossible, and I also worried it would hurt the quality of the posts. A little over 4 years later, I am ready to call the experiment quits.

I’ve really enjoyed the challenge and I think that, not only did the quality remain high, but I think it actually improved. Blogging is still something I love, and it really became part of my personality during that time. I’ve received such nice feedback from people, and it’s really kept me in touch with a lot of people that I wouldn’t otherwise had any contact with. Lately, however, it has become too much of a burden. Sara could tell you how much time I spend fretting about things like, “I need another post for this week!” or “Is this really good enough for a post?” or “Why is my traffic going down? Was I boring this week?” or “Make the kids do something funny! I’m short on quotes!” This becomes doubly difficult when something’s going on, like stress at work, or queuing up posts for a multiple week vacation.

Since I receive no tangible benefits from blogging, there’s really no reason to add this kind of stress to my life. I will still continue to blog whenever I feel like it, which will no doubt be multiple times per week (maybe even every day!). However, I will no longer force myself to make an arbitrary post count.

Thanks to you who have enjoyed my blog over the years. I hope you will continue to enjoy it as it enters yet another new chapter.

-The Management

Someone said I’m lovely!

First time for everything I suppose!

Sam from A Few Fine Things nominated me for the “One Lovely Blog” award!

I don’t believe I’ve ever received any sort of blogging recognition or award before. And though Sam is not exactly a *stranger* per say, since she comments on Glipho frequently, it’s nice to be recognized by someone I don’t exactly know! So thanks Sam, much appreciated (and also for cluing me into some new blogs to read!)

Rules of the award:

– Add the “One Lovely Blog Award” image to your post
– Share 7 things about you
– Pass the award to seven nominees
– Thank the person who nominated you
– Inform the nominees by posting on their blogs

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these “things about me” lists (since Feb. 2009 apparently), but nonetheless I can’t think of a SINGLE THING about me that I have not already plastered all over the Internet. Not one. Really struggling here.

Okay, here goes….

1. I am afraid of busses. Well, afraid of them is not really the right word, but they make me anxious to the point that I would never choose to use them if I could help it. Trains are okay. Trains are on a rail and they can only go where they can go. A bus can just close the door and drive to Abu Dabi.

2. I used to be blond. Like, really blond, all through my childhood, long after you would have assumed my hair wasn’t going to change color. For that matter, I USED to be cute:

3. Speaking of things I used to be, I used to be a mallrat, like you read about. I would spend hours there, bumming around stores, buying things, getting pizza at Sbarro (or free samples from Chik-fil-a), meeting up with people, etc. I could still probably draw you a pretty good map from memory, with all the key stores marked out. But it was so much more than that! There were like rival gangs. For example, for arcades I was a Tilt guy. I wouldn’t have been caught dead in the Golden Nugget. Likewise, I would only buy music in NRM. Sara finds all of this absolutely hilarious, and can’t fathom how this could be a part of my past.

4. I come from an *extremely* big extended family. My dad was one of 7 kids, and my mom was one of 17 kids. No multiple births (twins, etc.). Just lots and lots of babies.

5. I am ranked as one of the top 3 pillow jugglers in the world.

6. One time when I was driving my car caught on fire. There was the smell of burning wires and smoke started pouring out of the steering column. It turns out that with that particular model, it was not exactly unheard of. The weirdest part about the whole thing was that the car ended up being totally fine without any sort of repair required.

7. I am a terrible cook, but I like baking. It’s not crazy to go through 5 pounds of flour in a weekend, although not as much lately perhaps. A lot of that is bread for the week, and most of the rest is pancakes. Lots and lots and lots of pancakes. We usually go through 30+ pancakes on a Sunday.

On the matter of my own nominees, here are some of my favorite Gliphers at the moment:

1.  Tess Wynn – I’ve been kicking myself for missing her on my Meet A Glipher list of favorite Gliphers!! So glad I got a second chance. Love her sense of humor, plus we’re both originally from Wisconsin, so there you go.

2. Kami McArthur – Kami is a super sweet, just starting out writer (like me!), and I feel like her sincerity and ernestness really come through in her posts.

3. Woelf Dietrich – Another writer, but sort of the photo-negative of Kami. 🙂 Dude’s got HP Lovecraft and a giant man-eating squid on his homepage right now. Not only is that awesome, but I want to see how he’s going to fit a “Lovely Blog” award on there with the rest. 🙂

4. Laura Locket – Laura writes every day, and no one knows better than me what a challenge that is, not only to do it, but to keep it interesting!

5. Garden Geekery – Bees! I am currently fascinated by bee keeping, as we’d like to keep bees one day, and therefore this blog.

Alright, I hate to go outside of Glipho for this, but…

6. Alexis Abell – An old friend, with some hilarious kid adventures. If you’re a fan of Quote Monday, you should check out her blog.

7. Rodan – A VERY old friend! It’s kind of hard to explain his blog, but I lurves it. Each post is like a surreal dip into the inner workings of his strange brain, where everything starts out normal, but nothing is as it seems.

To my nominated (Glipho) bloggers – if you could click the version button at the bottom of this blog post when you wish to do your own nomination post then it will link all our blog posts together in harmonious loveliness.

An Interview with Yours Truely

The blogging platform Glipho recently interviewed me as part of their “Meet a Glipher” project. Therein, I discuss my secret blogger origin story, divulge embarrassing pictures of myself, and discuss advice about blogging and parenting.

I’m cross-posting the interview here for posterity, but you can also see the original post here.

#meetaglipher… Shane Halbach (@shanehalbach)

A hundred or more thanks to Shane Halbach for being our Meet a Glipher this week! Chances are you’ll probably know Shane for his sense of humour in his posts and which are often about his brilliant kids (or co-bloggers). He’s also recently sold a short story to a superhero anthology published by Crossed Genres, so congratulations to him!

1. Why did you start blogging? Why do you continue to do it?

Before “social network” was even a word, before Twitter and Facebook (before even MySpace for god’s sake), a good friend of mine kept trying to get me to join LiveJournal; not for the blogging really, but for the sense of community she found there. Despite constant nagging on her part, I never quite got around to making an account.

My friend later committed suicide.

The year after she died, I spent a lot of time thinking about her, and one day I went and opened a LiveJournal account in her honor. I didn’t really know what I was going to do with it, but having it made me feel closer to her. Once I started using it, I could very quickly see what she had been trying to tell me all that time. In my experience, bloggers are generally nice, encouraging people, and there really is a sense of community. It’s very interesting to me that, all of these years later, Glipho is building its own community of bloggers. So it’s really come full circle for me.

My blog has gone through three major periods. In the beginning, I mostly used it like a diary. I never expected anybody to read it. (Those embarrassing posts are all still there…*please please* don’t go back and read them!) Eventually, it just wasn’t really interesting enough for me to continue, and I gave up for about a year. When I started blogging again in August of 2005, I changed my focus. I started using it more as a place to keep interesting links I found on the Internet, and turned it more into something that was interesting to me and that I enjoyed, rather than something I felt like I had to do.

I’ve seen so many blogs come and go, and I think that the absolutely essential element for anybody who wants to sustain a blog is that you have to enjoy it. It doesn’t matter what you talk about, but it has to be you, and you have to enjoy it for its own sake. Otherwise it becomes work. If you’re doing it to “get readers” just quit now and save yourself the trouble.

The third iteration of my blog began in January of 2009, when I challenged myself to blog 7 days a week. I didn’t really have a plan or a goal of how far I’d take it, but I just thought it would be interesting. Though I eventually scaled it back to 5 days a week, I certainly never thought I’d still be keeping that schedule four years later.

This was a big difference though, because it really flipped a switch on blogging for me. The constant need to come up with content really kindled a spark in my creative side. I had never really used my “writer brain” for blogging, it had always been a separate thing. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to come up with so many posts without making them dull or uninteresting, but instead the opposite happened: I started looking at the world in a new light, and finding inspiration for posts everywhere. I always figured I would stop blogging when I stopped enjoying it, but I think I’m enjoying it now more than ever.

2. You blog a lot about your kids, Evie and Ollie, who are adorable, intelligent, and hilarious. Do they ever read your blog posts? Will they read them in future? And how will you feel if one day you are the topic of THEIR blogs?

They do not read my blog, but they are aware that it exists. Particularly when they make me laugh, they’ll say, “Put that in your e-blog!” or “Is that a quote daddy?” Since Quote Monday is essentially just me transcribing the things they say, I guess you could consider them my co-bloggers. There are currently 198 “From the Mouths of Babes” posts, and that’s not even counting the posts I wrote *about* them. I know a lot of bloggers who never published 198 posts.

The Internet is forever, so I know they will read the posts someday, and when they do, no jury on Earth will convict them when they kill me. Unfortunately for them, my entire life is basically online, and I don’t think there is anything they could write that would be more embarrassing than anything I’ve already put out there myself.

I would love for them to be bloggers though. I wish everybody blogged everything all the time. For some reason, people seem to not want to put their lives on display to be dissected by Internet trolls. Weird.

3. Have you had any particular experiences as a result of your blog?

My all-time personal favorite was when I wrote a blog post about a childhood hero, Commander Mark Kistler, and he actually stopped by and commented on the post. I still get warm and glowy when I think about it.

One time I wrote a post and skillfully tied together two unrelated items (a quiz about which horrible disease you are and frozen pickle juice popsicles) with the title, “Do Pickle Pops give you Rickets?” Shortly thereafter, I received a couple of comments from the company who made the pickle pops. I just imagine the marketing guy sitting down at his computer in the morning thinking, “Ah, look! Bloggers are starting to talk about our product! We’re really going somewhere now!” and then just doing a spit-take with his coffee all over his monitor when he sees that title.

They were good sports about it though. I changed the post title even though they didn’t ask me to, and they sent me a bunch of free pickle pops. I do feel obligated to say there are no studies linking pickle pops to rickets. Unfortunately, my own study concluded that pickle pops do, in fact, taste like frozen pickle juice.

4. How involved are you with the online community? Have you attended any blogger meetups?

I have so many friends who I only know virtually, but I guess that’s not that unusual anymore. I’ve never attended any blogger meetups, but I have met people in real life who read my blog. It’s a little awkward and unbalancing when they know so much about me and I don’t know anything about them. Plus, when I try to launch into all my funniest stories they go, “Uh, yeah, I already read that on your blog.”

5. What blog(s) do you love to read? Any favourite Gliphers?

My favorite blog is John Scalzi’s Whatever. His is the blog my blog aspires to be. As far as Gliphers, I sort of pick and choose at the buffet of my feed. But some of my favorites are Frank GranatiLindsay ParnellRachel Monte, and A Few Fine Things. I think they would all be surprised to know this.

6. Do you have any “core principles” you try to abide by as a parent?

I think the main thing we try to impart is to live simply. It’s so hard to do in this day and age; it really requires an effort. I’m doing everything I can to set my kids back 100 years. Have fewer, better quality things. Understand where your food comes from and what’s in it. Enjoy the outdoors. Read a book. Downsize your house. Forget about gadgets and cell phones and computers.

What’s that? Why does daddy work as a computer programmer? Do as I say, not as I do, children.

7. What are the three main pieces of advice you’d give your kids about functioning as adults, once they’re a bit further along the grown-up end of the spectrum?

Hey, this sounds like a good future blog post!

Don’t spend more than you have. I don’t care what everybody else is doing. Most people are idiots.

Your life is not your job. It’s wonderful to enjoy your job, but if you don’t (or even if you do), you need to have other things you enjoy. If you can work less, do it. Compiling more money is not more important than the things you love. Don’t miss out on your kids when they’re little.

You are what you eat. Don’t be “high fructose corn syrup” or “pink sludge from McDonalds”. And please, please don’t be some chemical I can’t pronounce. If you must be, at least shorten it to something hip and cute, like “Hydroxy”.

8. What made you decide to start writing on Glipho and how is it working out so far?

Someone in my online writer’s group said he had invites to a new blogging platform. I thought, “Hey, I like blogging!” As simple as that.

At first I wasn’t sure if I would use it regularly or not, but I kept telling myself, “Well, just a little longer…” However, there are two factors strongly in Glipho’s favor that keep me on: 1) I feel like I am reaching a totally new audience with Glipho (hello UK!) who would not have found me otherwise, and 2) because of the community, even though I get less traffic on a Gliph than on the same post at shanehalbach.com, I am more likely to get a comment in Glipho. I can tell you, nothing puts a smile on a bloggers face faster than a comment on a post!

9. Any particular goals, blogging or otherwise, for 2013?

I think the plans for world domination don’t kick in until 2015, so 2013 is pretty open.

As far as blogging and writing go, I would probably continue on as I have been. I’ve sold some of my short fiction recently, so that continues to be a goal of mine. Making money on writing is like a soap bubble dream; it seems too crazy to actually exist, and I’m afraid if I touch it or think about it too much, it will pop.

Also, I am learning how to play the accordion! If I can continue improving at my current rate then I can…well then I would be able to…you know how beloved accordion players are, so I guess the rest goes without saying.

Follow Shane here and on Twitter.

Bacon, now in poetry form

When you publish a post, WordPress will automatically add “related post” hyperlinks at the bottom, with the idea that people might like to browse from related topic to related topic. Kind of like when you get stuck watching related videos on youtube for hours and hours.

I generally hate the idea.

The problem is that the “auto-generator” usually creates links that are barely related at best, and also tends to give the impression that I have intentionally linked in these posts, or endorsed them in some way. If I’m going to link to something, I’ll link to it. So I disabled the feature.

However, I recently got a ping-back on my Baconfest posts from Salut! Adventures, who had written an honest to goodness bacon poem. Now that’s a related link! In fact, it’s not just a bacon poem, but an awesome bacon poem, which I will now present to you. Although I didn’t write it, I wish I had. Enjoy.

The Vegan – A Baconfest Poem

Once upon a morning dreary, in my bathrobe, wan and weary,

I stood and gazed forlornly at my open icebox door.

There was no breakfast for the makin’, no smoky hardwood bacon,

And it seemed that I would soon be schlepping towards the corner store.

Schlepping sadly to the store.

But then there came a tapping, an annoying kind of rapping

On the wooden frame that stands around my humble kitchen door.

‘Twas my pink and chubby neighbor, come to ask of me a favor,

Come to borrow almond flavor that he knew I had in store.

Only this and nothing more.

“What’s the worry?  Why the hubbub?” asked the portly little cherub,

As he watched me grab my house keys and walk ‘cross the kitchen floor.

I explained I had no bacon, and the toll that it was takin’

As I gave him almond extract and I showed him towards the door.

Showed him firmly towards the door.

“That’s no problem, said my neighbor, “You can get the same great flavor

From the tofu products you can buy at any health food store.

We vegans really love it, and you too will be fond of it,

Really, going without bacon is not that much of a chore.

Not too terrible a chore!”

“Ye Gods!” I spat and sputtered, and some expletives were muttered

As I wrestled with my neighbor like a warring Carnivore.

In a rage I hit and pounded , until suddenly astounded,

I saw a curly, porcine tail slip out onto the kitchen floor.

‘Twas a pig! And nothing more.

An hour later I was sated, with my bacon crave abated,

And I never even had to journey to the corner store.

My freezer now is packed with pounds of bacon, neatly stacked

Enough to last through summertime, and maybe even more.

And my neighbor?  Nevermore.