Thursday, March 17, 2011

Food for Thought

Today I'll leave you with this link without any commentary.

Regardless of your perspective, it's a topic worth considering.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Me and Julian Assange

This post has nothing to do with Julian Assange. It’s about writing for the web.

I’ve been blogging for over four years now, and I’m still a little clueless about the way things work in the blogosphere. I write because I like to write, and I write about things I care about. The finished product is something I want to feel good about.

Some posts are inevitably better than others. However, I don’t write a bunch of junk just because I think it will get hits. I also don’t write provocative headlines to get hits.

When I started blogging, I naively thought that good writing and consistent posting would earn me some readers. Over the years, I’ve gained and lost quite a few readers, but I’ve never picked up a large following. Part of that is my fault for being deficient in the consistency department. I guess another reason for my low readership is not playing the game correctly.

For lots of bloggers, the key to success is to write posts with little or no substance and give them catchy titles, like “Your Mom Thinks You’re a Loser!”

Actually, I’d read that post, because I’m not sure which side of that fence my mom falls on. But she loves me, dammit!

If you’re blogging in an effort to earn money, clicks equal cash, I suppose you do what you have to do. I’m still clinging to the outdated idea that content quality matters.

I’ve got blogging on my mind, because of this article in The Times about blogging and how it’s changing. My regular readers know I'm also struggling with what the future holds for Brim.

Writing anything of any worth on a regular basis is hard work, and blogs are no different. I can relate to the feeling of pouring time and effort into something and having very few people pay attention. Recently I’ve gotten some very nice compliments on Brim, which really does mean the world to me.

I write because I have thoughts, ideas and opinions that need to see the light of day. I write because I want to share the things that bring me joy–and sorrow. I write because I am a writer, and that’s what we do.

Just the other day, I stumbled on this article from The Times Magazine about how Amazon is peddling narrative nonfiction. It gives me hope that maybe good writing isn’t dying a slow death. It also makes me think more seriously about getting a Kindle.

I especially like the last line of the story. It's something I often say.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ode to Cap'n Crunch

Among the many atrocities committed by my parents during my youth, perhaps none was so severe as the sugar deprivation. There was a strict two-cookie limit, as well as an outright ban on sugar-masquerading-as-breakfast-cereal.

Fortunately, I was eventually emancipated and went on to have a torrid love affair with junk food of all types, including serious liaisons with the Cap'n. When I heard the now-discredited rumor that the Cap'n was no more...I was numb.

Okay, I wasn't really. But I was stunned when E told me she never tasted those sweet little cubes of goodness. I can clearly recall exactly how Cap'n Crunch tastes, even if it's been over 15 years since I last had it.

I have to admit I still love junk food. I rarely indulge my cravings anymore, a nod to both healthy living and my ongoing battle of the bulge. I've learned the hard way that real food makes me feel and look much better.

You've probably noticed I'm a big fan of Mark Bittman. I'm glad the The Times has given him more room to write about food and the larger issues that go along with it, as he does so well in this post.

Over the last five years I've drastically changed the way I eat. Junk food has almost disappeared from my diet. Meat and poultry are becoming less of main characters and more of supporting actors. I also care much more about where they come from.

Vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes are becoming the foundation of my diet. I'm far from perfect, but the change is underway. I know my eating habits won't save the world, but it will make me feel better.

And if I ever decide to backslide, good old Cap'n Crunch will be waiting for me at the grocery store.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

10 Years Gone

It’s now officially been a decade since I moved to Columbia. It occurred to me this past weekend, when I noticed the wisteria vine outside our home is on the cusp of blooming.

As I’ve written about previously, that spring in 2001 is when I realized I loved my new neighborhood with its tree-lined streets, sidewalks and explosions of azaleas, dogwoods and wisteria around every corner. The first couple months in Columbia were a pretty heady time for me. Of course, that was before I realized I had misjudged my employment prospects and before the events of September 11.

The reality is that the last ten years have been full of ups and downs. Regardless, I still can’t help feeling nostalgic for that spring now ten years past. It was a vastly different time in my life.

My divorce was official, and I had ended my first post-marriage relationship. I was exploring a new city, making new friends and loving it. It was truly a new beginning.

My two dogs, now both departed, were in the prime of their lives. My hair, now graying and receding, was thick and dark. My career path, now winding, appeared to be moving straight ahead and rising.

Ten years brought so many changes. E came into my life almost seven years ago. A new dog will be four years old in a couple months. I see another career change looming on the horizon.

One of my first discoveries was a wine store with a really good selection not far from my new home. It’s the same wine store that E and I frequently visit after our Saturday morning trip to the All-Local Farmers' Market and Rosewood Market.

It’s also the store where I stocked the shelves, answered thousands of wine questions and learned a bit more about wine. That job paid the bills and kept my wine collection stocked for several years. Working retail isn’t exactly a walk in the park, but I loved talking to people about wine.

If I’ve learned anything over the last ten years, it’s that I want to spend more of my life doing the things I love. That's my goal for the next ten years.