6 days down

As is customary, I made a silent and half-hearted resolution this year… to blog more and, more importantly, to blog regularly. It’s harder than it sounds.

The main roadblock that I have in keeping up any sort of regular blog is that I doubt myself. No one has less faith in me than I do. I’ll occasionally think to myself a random passing thing that strikes me as being something that I could very easily write about, and I’ll even sit down to do it… then I’ll immediately psych myself out, deciding that I actually don’t have anything to say after all, and that I should probably just play World of Warcraft or something instead.

I’m going to make an attempt to limit the amount that I do that. I’m never going to get better at this unless I actually do it. Self-discipline isn’t exactly what you’d call one of my stronger points! Excuses are just excuses, though, and I’m done with them. I hope. The truth is, I stopped typing for a second a thought about deleting this entire thing. So instead, I’m going to click Publish and let it go. I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to be present.

Starting Over. Again.

I’ve had many blogs in some form or another over the course of the past few years, but one thing has stayed irritatingly constant… the stark white background that represents my canvas, and the blinking cursor sitting atop it that represents my not knowing what I want to say.

Are you ready? Here’s a peek into my thought process.

In the small, quiet hours I can think of so many things I want to say — things that I want to tell the entire world! — or at least things I think the world needs to hear. When the moment comes, and I’m sitting in front of that cold, vast void that I’ve declared my own to fill, I come up empty. During my daily life, I’ll think to myself about how I should write a blog post about egg noodles, or how I should write a blog post about not really understanding why any given thing is the way it is.

What can I say? The world and all it holds are mysteries to me.

I’ve often used a blog as a way to vent, too. I took a sick joy in spewing out flesh-eating diatribes against the everyone and everything that I decided in my own (closed and underused) mind was wrong. A little word of advice that I learned the hard way… just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t mean it’s incorrect. Morals are not binary. It took me more than 30 years to learn that simple lesson, mainly because I’ve been a very judgmental person in the past, which I’m going to blame with a nudge and a wink on being raised a Southern Baptist.

In reality? It was just that I am was scared to death of everything and everyone.
Humans fear what we don’t understand, because… well, we’re hardwired to. The hypothalamus gives us two options when faced with something we don’t get but are sure is going to kill us, and on present day Earth, everything is going to kill something. Take raisins. For us, they’re a great, moderately healthy snack. For dogs, though, they’re poison. For us, yummy dried grapes. For dogs? Yummy kidney failure. Eat this, not that! Oh wait, we’ve been wrong for the past 20 years and you should really be eating that, not this. In the 1940s cigarette ads used doctors to tell you how ridiculously smooth their product was, and that you’d be a damned fool not to smoke. Now we understand a bit more about the fact that cigarettes, much like the air in a heavily populated metropolitan area, will kill you until you are dead, and medical professionals no longer tell you that smoking is the coolest.

You know what this is? A literary leitmotif.

I’m not going to use this blog to complain. I’m not going to use it to talk about things that I don’t like. I am going to use it to talk about things that interest and/or confuse me, which should offer a deep enough well to last for years to come. For now, though, I really just want to thank you for reading. I probably don’t know who you are, but since you’re ready this, I’d certainly like to, especially since you made it this far.

Hi, my name’s Erik. What’s yours?

Blogging about blogging. SO META.

Blogging is a tricky business. Now, when I use the word “business” there, don’t think I’m making any money from posting once a month. If you are making money from posting once a month, be a pal and tell me how that works. But I digress. So yeah, blogging is kind of weird. There are SO many places you can blog, each one with a different audience. I know from personal experience that if I post something in one place it might not see any activity, but if I post it somewhere else I get tens of views! That sounds sarcastic, and while it was clearly intended to be, it’s like most sarcasm… said with just the slightest hint of truth. If I post something and anyone responds to it or interacts with me in the slightest because of it, that’s a win. That’s a victory for me. If one person reads my stuff or likes my photo or whatever, then I’ve just used this amazing thing called the internet to share a little part of myself with a complete stranger.

That’s why I don’t do it that often.

The truth is, I’m terrified. Sharing something you’ve created with the world means that it’s no longer safe. It’s out there. Anyone can attack it, can pick it apart, can spit on it and belittle it. That little piece of yourself that you gave away is going to get hurt, and by extension, so are you. You’ve got two options. One, you do what I’ve always done, and you quit. That’s the easiest thing to do. Just quit, stop any creative juice you might have flowing, and run. Cut your losses, because that’s the safest thing to do, right? Option two is harder. You suck it up, use the negativity to see if there are things you could do better while still creating what you want, and let the positivity prop you up. In the upcoming new year, that’s my plan.

I need to create, and for some reason, I need to share it with people. Maybe I’m a sadist. Maybe I’m just a guy that thinks he’s got something to offer. Maybe I think I’m way better at this than I really am. At any rate, I’m here to stay, and this is probably going to be my last “wall-o-text” post. You’re welcome! For now, I’m going to sleep. Technically it’s Christmas Eve Day (…what?) and I need to get my beauty rest so I can look like a boss for Santa Claus.

 

app.net: why it sucks.

I recently decided to try App.net, which is a new-ish micro-blogging service. Here’s a brief summary of my experience with it.

First, a little nuts and bolts info. It’s basically Twitter. There’s a larger character limit, and all sorts of access to their API, and… well, that’s about it. It costs a minimum of $5 per month to use it, or $36 per year. The (only?) benefit is that there are no ads. Also, the name is a complete misfire. “App.net” doesn’t lend itself well to anything.

I used an iphone app called Netbot to actually interact with people. Netbot is made by Tapbots, the same people who make Tweetbot, and for all intents and purposes, it’s the same app. I immediately knew what I was doing, since again, it’s basically Twitter. There are far, far fewer users than you’ll find on Twitter, and the conversations are of a decidedly tech-based nature.

That sounded pretty good to me at the outset — after all, I am of a decidedly tech-based nature — but since I’m not someone who writes code, I found myself quickly at a loss as to what I was supposed to do with app.net. I decided to ask if there were any gamers about, being careful to hashtag “gamers” to make my query more visible. I decided to search for that hashtag in attempt to find some gaming buddies, and I was shock to find three results, one of which was mine

I was a bit taken aback by this. Surely that was a mistake, just poor word choice on my part. I decided to try a different search, going with #Warcraft, since I love playing World of Warcraft. Surely in this haven of geekery there would be a few MMO fans, right?

Nope.

There were 2 posts containing the hashtag #Warcraft, with the most recent one being over a week old. At that point, it really crystallized in my mind that this service is not for me. Unless you’re in one of the very narrow bands of geekdom that App.net seems to cater to, you won’t find anything there to keep you around. I’ve already canceled my account, which, to their credit, was very easy.

All in all, that’s really the best thing I can say about App.net… canceling my account was quick and easy.

Re-ignition

WHEN I AM EMPTY PLEASE DISPOSE OF ME PROPERLY

I’ve settled into a comfortable dissatisfaction as of late. I don’t really seem to enjoy anything. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m apparently stagnant by nature or if I’ve managed to wring out the last drops of fun from the activities I once held dear. I’ve seemingly lost the capacity for creative thought. It is my sincere hope that doing this, the simple act of posting something, will rekindle the interest that I once had in writing. I’ve given up on so many hobbies in my life… drawing, writing and recording music, collections of various things, writing in general… and I wish that I hadn’t. I wish that I still found time to occasionally put pencil to paper and draw. Or at least stylus to Wacom, I guess. I wish I had time to practice my guitar. I wish I had more time to write, too. I quit doing those things because the finished product in each case never came out the way I wanted it to. The way I saw it in my head. I had an idea of what it should look like, sound like, say… and when I was unable to produce that, I simply quit. I hate everything that I create, really. Except for my son, of course. He gets a pass because he’s the most beautiful child in the world. The question remains, though… is this my lot in life? To have a great imagination with no skill whatsoever to back it up? Maybe by forcing myself to blog, and to blog about this, I’ll get over this hump and the juices will start flowing again.

This is incredibly disturbing.

Apparently someone found my blog by searching for “slow comfort fucking tumblr“.

I just don’t know what to think about that.

I’ve tried to make one coherent thought out of the four words, but my mind just can’t get around it. How exactly does it all fit together? I can get several 2 or 3 words snippets out of it, but all four? I swear, it’s like I’m watching Lost all over again.

 

Finally… Publicize to Tumblr!

Image representing Tumblr as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

I was pretty happy with the recent announcement that WordPress would begin letting you publicize your blog posts to Tumblr. I spend a pretty good amount of time that I really should be writing scrolling through my Tumblr dashboard, looking at all the funny, creative, and just plain weird things that people post. Now it seems that I don’t have to make a choice between the two! Thanks, WordPress!

I Officially Love Pinterest.

English: Red Pinterest logo

Sorry ladies, the secret is out!

 

I arrived a stranger in a strange land. Was I the only male, adrift in a sea of estrogen? Possibly. I knew, though… I knew there had to be more to this than pictures of shoes and manicures, and I was determined to find it.

About 15 minutes later, I was hooked.

Pinterest, if you’ve never heard of it, is a lot like Tumblr but without the stupid teenage hipster bullshit. (Sorry to be blunt, but… I mean, it is what it is.) I had never heard of it myself until I saw my wife using it, and I didn’t think much of it at first. It’s a site that functions as a virtual pin board… any picture you see online can be “pinned”, and in doing so you create a link back to the site you found the image at. At the very core of it all, Pinterest is really nothing more than visual social bookmarking, but that makes it sound like it’s a lot less fun than it really is.

If you’re a visual person like me, there’s a lot to like about Pinterest. Even just looking through other people’s pins can be a rewarding experience. Art, architecture, photography… if it can be presented in a visual format, you’ll find it there, often times neatly categorized and begging to be looked through. That’s right, folks… it’s not all hair braids and outfits. Ideas and inspiration flow freely, and while it’s true there’s a bit of an emphasis on cooking and crafts, the site certainly isn’t limited to just those things. Yes, the site is primarily used by women, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why it’s not more universally accepted. There’s something there for everyone, and if you’re not finding material to suit you, all you have to do is pin your own images and see if anyone responds in kind. People can also repin your pins, which is the equivalent of Tumblr’s “reblog”. Want to see more pictures of torn down Dodge Charger engines? Pin ’em!

I keep comparing Pinterest to Tumblr, but it’s important to note that they’re not interchangeable. Unlike Tumblr, Pinterest is for visual media only, which means that pure text posts aren’t possible, and as such it can’t be used as a true blog. One thing that I find somewhat refreshing however is the fact that Pinterest doesn’t allow nudity. There are times when I’m at work or just sitting around killing time with Small Boy in my lap, and at those times I don’t feel that Tumblr is a place I can go. You never know what might show up there. Pinterest is pretty family friendly, and that’s cool to me.

At first, I didn’t “get” Pinterest. I didn’t see the point, and I wanted nothing to do with it. That’s changed, however, and I absolutely love it now. If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, please feel free. I don’t have much up as I just got started, but I’m sure once I get going it’ll be hard for me to stop! I’m thinking about abandoning my Tumblr in favor of this more mature and refined option. Do you or anyone you know use Pinterest? Do you like it, or do you just not see the point? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Blogsy?

I’m trying out an iPad app that I just got called Blogsy. So far, I’m not sure what to make of it. I have to admit that I was initially a bit hesitant to try typing… well, much of anything on an iPad. I’ve said numerous times in the past that iPads, while awesome, are for consumption and not creation.

I may have been wrong.

This is going to be a short post, as I’m not really posting about anything, but am really just trying to put this app through its paces. So far, I’m pleasantly surprised. I’m going to try adding a picture from my Flickr account.

It’s very easy to add pictures, but without knowing a little bit of code it seems impossible to type after adding one. You have to flip over to the HTML view and add a div, in case you’re wondering. At any rate, I definitely see myself playing with this more in the future but currently don’t see it being worth the price of admission, which was $4.99 in the app store.

Maybe It’s Not a Numbers Game After All

WordPress

Well, this is awkward.

I’ve been gone for a bit. I’ve tried different things, and now I’m back. Can we just leave it at that?

I suppose we could, but that would make for a very short post indeed.

I ventured forth into the world of social media sure that there were adventures to be had. People to meet, connections to make, interests to share… you know the deal. I decided that I would check out what Facebook was all about, and I’d stake my ground at Google+ as well. Neither of those things were proving to be very effective at putting me in contact with like-minded people, and as I contemplated my Klout score (which is bullshit, and I’ll explain why momentarily) I came across the following Infographic:

Let’s look at that, because it’s good information. 82% of people who are friends on Facebook know one another in their real lives. 60% have a person in common. Those were some pretty staggering numbers in the face of my “stay anonymous but try to make some friends” idea.

So, I decided… fuck it.

I closed my Facebook account that I had amassed an army of three friends on, and I closed my Google+ account as well. I told you that Klout was bullshit before… let me explain why. Like I said before, I didn’t really do anything with either of those accounts; the just kind of were. Keep in mind that on Facebook, I had three friends. It’s not like I was at the center of a flurry of activity. Simply closing my Facebook account caused my Klout score to drop over ten points. Nevermind that I didn’t do anything with it. That leaves me with one thought… maybe I shouldn’t look at numbers. Maybe I shouldn’t look at Google Analytics on my Tumblr site, or how many followers I have on Twitter, or even how many pageviews I get here. Maybe I should just do what makes me happy, and take comfort in the fact that I’m doing this for myself.

So that’s it. A new year starts soon, and I’m sticking to WordPress (for lengthy shit like this), Tumblr (for funny and artsy shit), and Twitter (for pretty much everything… I’m pretty active on Twitter) for all of my “social life on the internet” needs. This is also the only blog post I’ll be doing about social networking, because that subject is tired. I’ve blogged about it enough. For now, I have to say… I’ve missed WordPress somewhat.

It’s nice to be back.