Friday, February 19, 2010

Catch-Up: Features, Blogroll & Graphics Re-Use

Time for some catch-up, including RSS feed, blog-roll updates and use of WTWWU graphics.

First Thing- RSS Feed

I’ve added an RSS feed for any readers who’d like to be kept abreast of comments. Thanks SkiBikeJunkie for the suggestion and how-to. Since many regular readers frequently post helpful and insightful comments, hopefully this feature will come in handy to some number of you.

Tangent: Though strangely, as I’ve mentioned before, many of the comments I get are “direct”, the foremost example being my Legion of Lurking Coworker Readers who regularly walk over to my office to comment on, question or critique a post. Every once in a while one of them will say something thoughtful or insightful, and I’ll say something like, “Hey, that’s really thoughtful or insightful. You should post a comment.” And then they’ll get all nervous and weird and laugh uneasily, like I just invited them to a swinger’s get-together or an Amway meeting. (Really, it’s just a blog. Only like 300* people a day read it. You can post a comment- no one will make fun of you.)

*On a good day, when I post cool graphics and Selma Hayek photos.

wwwlogo3[5] The Legion was/is also weird about WatcherSTICKERS. When I came out with them, about a dozen Legionnaires stopped by my office, asking for one, which I was happy to provide. So far as I can tell, none of these stickers has actually been applied to a surface of any sort. Several are thumb-tacked to cubicle-walls, and one coworker keeps his in the console-CD-cubby hole in his car below, the dashboard. “My wife won’t let me put a bumpersticker on the car…” he explained*…

*Seriously- how short is your leash?

A fair number of real-world friends/associates have asked for a sticker, but qualified it with, “I don’t put anything on my car…” in sort of a hushed, embarrassed tone, as if by giving them the sticker I were implying something scandalous. Just to be clear- if you have a sticker, I don’t care where you apply it, and second, it’s a sticker. Putting a sticker on your car or snowboard or rooftop-rocket-box is just that- a sticker. It’s not like getting a tattoo on your buttock or piercing your nipple. If you change your mind you can peel it off. And really, what’s with all these clean car people anyway? What are they, planning to deliver a baby on the hood or something?

Second Thing- Blogroll Updates

It’s been a while since I updated the blogroll. I try not to keep too long a blogroll because a) I like to keep it to blogs I regularly read, and b) if it gets too long I don’t think it’s all that helpful to readers. But I’ve been reading some good blogs lately and have added a few. Some are informative; some are just fun.

michelle RWoods First is Rambling Woods, which is foremost an excellent birding blog, but also covers a wide range of butterflies, moths, mammals and more. Michelle, the author is based in Western NY state and had a middle-aged awakening 6 years ago when she became curious about a hawk that landed on the railing or her deck. She’s kicked it into high gear ever since, and following along you can share in her wonderful observations and discoveries.

marcia-b-holding-eagle-katz Speaking of great writing, Marcia Bonta is a naturalist, the author of 9 books and hundreds of magazine articles located in central Pennsylvania. Her blog includes postings from her regular column “Naturalist’s Eye” from Pennsylvania Game News*. She covers all sorts of wonderful topics, and I absolutely loved her recent Eastern White Pine post.

*I’m dying to work this into a conversation. I have it all mapped out in my head. I’ll be talking with someone and drop some little factoid, and they’ll be like, “Really? Where’d you hear that?” and I’ll be like, “Really, it’s true! I read in Pennsylvania Game News!”

Desert Survivor and Desert Boy Next up is Desert Survivor, which I’ve actually been reading for over a year, and which replaces A Plant A Day on the roll. (DS is her primary blog, APAD was an additional blog that I followed daily last summer, but appears to have gone into winter hiatus/dormancy.) This one takes some explaining.

About 30-50% of the time, DS reads like, well, a Mommy-Blog*. Now, I have absolutely nothing against Mommy-Blogs, but I don’t generally read them*. But Desert Survivor is also part naturalist, part caver, part rancher-blog**. I follow it for all of these topics, but probably most of all because it is one of my half-assed fantasies is to live in East-central Nevada***. DS’s blog is filled with enough photos and info to pretty quickly figure out the “town” where she and her family resides, and it’s one of my favorite parts of the state.

*Yes, I love kids. Had 3. That was enough.

**Coincidentally, the Dooce lady lives about 4 blocks from me. No, I don’t know her, but everyone in the ‘hood knows who she is. The Mommy-blog phenomenon falls in the same life-experience category for me as TV Reality Shows, cruises, spectator sports, and golf: something that is obviously wildly popular among millions of people, but which I totally Do Not Get. This Do-Not-Get category is a life-long head-scratcher for me. Sometimes, late at night, I wonder if I’m really human, or in fact some kind of alien-deployed doppelganger/android, and the Do-Not-Get category reflects a range of topics which my Secret Alien Masters neglected to program into my cognition/ awareness module.

***Note for AW, who will inevitably read this: No, no, no- don’t call the divorce lawyer; I’m not cooking up a scheme to move us out to Nevada. It’s just a fantasy, like being an astronaut, or a rock star, or that time I asked you to speak with a Mexican accent and pretend to be Selma Hayek****.

****Totally, totally kidding.

Pie Queen Closer to home, I’ve added Jube/Lucy’s blog, Married with Bikes. Lucy is another Salt Lake mountain biker who blogs about all sorts of things, but my absolute favorite posts are when she writes about her work. She’s a hydrogeologist working for the state of Utah, and knows all sorts of cool stuff about local geology and hydrology. She’s involved in assessing water flows, tables and sources in the Snake River Valley (focus of a highly-controversial project to suck the very life and soul out of a stunning rural valley to construct a water pipeline to Las Vegas.)

Tangent: But none of this is the remarkable thing about Lucy’s blog. No, the truly remarkable thing about MWB is that isn’t technically her blog; it’s hers and her husband’s (aka Drew) blog. They alternate posting, always doing do in a relentlessly upbeat and cheerful tone, neither one ever making so much as a snarky wise-crack about the other. Now I know many readers, like me, have blogs of their own. Seriously- can you imagine co-authoring a blog with your spouse? AW would kill me with a kitchen utensil within a week*. How do they do it? Is it a newlywed deal, is there some kind of Stepford thing at work? (In all seriousness, the 2 of them are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.)

*Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking: “But that’s because your blog is so freaking weird…” OK, so maybe that might accelerate the inevitable homicide, but I still think- even for normal people- that co-authoring a blog with one’s spouse would be tough.

dug planet of apes hat Lastly is SuncrestDug, another local biker/skier who also lives nearby, specifically up on (wait for it… wait for it..) Suncrest. I don’t know Dug in real life, but we have a couple of friends in common, and I expect sometime we’ll meet. (Pulled this photo off his blog. I totally love the hat; it makes him look like one of those telepath-guys in the 2nd Planet of the Apes movie who lived underground and worshipped the atom bomb.) In the meantime I regularly enjoy his blog for the writing, humor and social/human observations. Something that’s difficult to convey to out-of-staters about Utah is that there are a lot of funny things about living here that you can’t get really get unless you live here. I can’t explain it any better than that, other than to say that Dug routinely highlights and nails these things in his blog.

Third Thing – Graphics Re-Use Permission

You got it. Seriously, it’s fine to re-use them.

From time to time I’ll get a comment on an old post, and a good many of these old-post-comments are asking policy/permission to use graphics.

Tangent: Sadly, these requests are inevitably to use “serious” graphics, such as this, this, or this, and never my favorite graphics, such as this, this, or this*. One of my secret fantasies is that I’m walking down some city street someday and pass someone wearing a T-Shirt with one of my graphics on it**.

*Or this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this or this. Seriously, how awesome are my graphics? I wish there were some kind of blog-award for graphics; I would totally win it.

**In my secretest fantasy, it turns out to be Selma Hayek wearing the T-shirt.

So here’s my policy: go for it. Feel free to use any graphic or photo- of mine- that appears in this blog. Note that I often include photos that are not mine, and try to clearly mark/link such photos when I do so. But any graphic or photo that’s mine, you’re welcome to use.

If you do so, it would be nice if you gave source-credit to this blog. Though this is a completely non-commercial venture, I spend a fair amount of time and effort creating these graphics, and I’d appreciate the acknowledgement. But if you forget, space or simply blow off doing so, no worries; I won’t sue you or send you snarky emails. You’ll just be filled with a general ill-at-ease, bad-karma vibe that will slowly eat away at you, disrupt your sleep, undermine your social, professional and family relationships, and ultimately completely and utterly destroy everything you value in this life, turning you into a sad, lonely, friendless empty husk of a person. But really, no worries.


jodycb said...

Hey. I love your favorite graphics. Esp the dead cat swinging one. I will now reuse them with wild abandon. (and give you credit.)

Anonymous said...

Nice blogroll additions. Always looking for new ones to read. And keep the awesome graphics coming! With so many good ones, it'll be hard to pick just one to make a T-Shirt for Selma to wear :)

BTW, had to laugh at the reference to From Dusk Till Dawn. Don't see too many references to that classic (well, maybe not a classic but certainly memorable) movie.

OK, so my comments are not thoughtful or insightful - just wait until I get my first cup of coffee!

mtb w

Colin said...

Can I get a Watchersticker? I promise to stick it somewhere where it will be seen by the general public.

KanyonKris said...

Feel better getting all that off your chest? I do. Good stuff.

Readers: a service ship has been dispatched from AlphaBetaPrime to repair the alien artificial human you know as Alex. Many of you may enjoy his entertaining tangent antics, but we need him back on mission: studying Earth's plant life.

Enel said...

I put the sticker on my otherwise de-stickered fork slider.

It weirds my kids out, so that is fun.


Watcher said...

Colin- you got it. All Canadian readers automatically qualify for a Watchersticker. You just have to keep your end of the bargain*.

*Sponsor me for asylum when I eventually flee this country.

KKris- "AlphaBeta Prime"?? I have told you before- my Alien Masters hail from the Dubhe Companion Planet.

Enel- Glad it freaks your kids out. When my dad was out visiting, he saw them on my and AW’s cars and asked, “Oh, is that a neighborhood watch sticker?”

mtb w- I have to come clean- whatever reference I made to the film was unintentional. I’ve never seen it. I just read the Wikipedia plot summary now. So what was the reference?

jodycb- speaking of film references, I checked out your (excellent) blog, clicked on the “About the Author” link and noticed the bit about training in an unspecified ancient Japanese martial art for several years. Are you Uma Thurman? Anyway, know what would be really cool (besides Uma Thurman reading my blog)? If the martial art you studied involved using a dead cat as a weapon.

Lucy said...

Thanks for all the high praise of our little ol' blog. We are still nowhere close to 300 readers, A WEEK! I would feel even more special if you actually added our blog to your blog roll. ;-)

The secret to being able to jointly author the blog with my spouse is that we write on the days we are apart, and therefore, he cannot throw kitchen utensils at me nor I at him.

Thanks for pointing out Desert Survivor's blog. I stumbled on her blog a few months ago doing some work research, but didn't realize who she was married to. I have had the chance to work with him and his dad and they are great guys. It is cool to make that connection.

Watcher said...

I would feel even more special if you actually added our blog to your blog roll. ;-)

Woops! Sorry, technical difficulties* there, now fixed...

*The specific difficulty being that I am a scatterbrained spaceshot.