Tag Archives: blog

Grasping the Reading Nettle

Right. That’s it. I’ve had enough. I’m making a stand. Apathy, I’m kicking your unmotivated candy-ass, but I’m letting you live, just so you can tell procrastination that I’m coming and hell’s coming with me!!!

Sorry. Just having a moment.

See, a while back I wrote a post on how I’d lost my reading mojo. I got some nice suggestions in response to it, and now the time has come to put them into practice. I’m going to put an extra page on the blog where I track the books I’ve read – probably not reviews, because I’m not that organised, but the accountability is important. I’m taking my bookcase back.

And so the first book to go on the list is The Wrong Messiah by Nick Page, which basically gave me about half the material I needed for the Bible Study I lead this week. Books are awesome.

PS. I should note that the idea of having a blog page for reading lists came from Deborah Bryan over at The Monster in Your Closet (and she’s having her first author interview released today, so check that out) and egb63. Thanks both!

 

 

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Seeking Some Blogging Advice

I’ve been blogging for a few years now, and while I’d like to say I’ve cracked the myriad secrets of the blogosphere, I haven’t. In fact, some days I can’t even remember how to type. It therefore goes without saying that sometimes I could use a little advice. Today is one of those days.

My problem is this – somewhere along the line I must have done something that impressed Google or Bing or Ask Jeeves* because my blog is getting a little more passing traffic than it used to. This is great, because let’s face it, we’re all here because a part of us wants an audience, but my problem seems to be getting people to stick around.

Now, this may be because this place simply isn’t what they want, like all those poor people who find themselves here looking for the lyrics to I Am The Music Man. I’ll also confess that I’ve ever so slightly been hit with the tl;dr stick. Even considering all this though, I’d still hope the blog has enough merit to make it worth coming back a couple of times.

So I guess that’s my question – how do you turn that passing traffic into something approximating an audience? Or is it best not to get caught up in that sort of thinking? All answers, suggestions and clicks of the Like button are welcome!

*People must still ask Jeeves, right? Right? I mean, I know I can remember when my favourite search engine was Alta Vista, but things can’t have changed that much can they?

Blog Action Day 2011: #BAD11

I am proud to take part in Blog Action Day Oct 16, 2011 www.blogactionday.org

I wrote most of this after my church’s harvest festival in September; when I discovered that this year’s Blog Action Day is all about food, I figured I’d give it a repost rather than reinvent the wheel…

Harvest is one of those services that feels more rooted in a particular social context than something like Christmas or Easter – it feels like something that comes from our rural history, the days in which everyone in the community was acutely aware of whether or not the harvest had failed. We’ve become divorced from that – refrigeration, air travel and supermarket mega-chains have conspired to hide the reality of where our food comes from (strawberries are available all year round, and how many rice paddies are there in the UK?), and so in that context, harvest festivals take on a new edge. Because the hidden aspects of our food often impact some of the most vulnerable people and environments on the planet.

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For instance, the need for space to grow this food also has knock-on effects – according to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, agriculture is the primary cause of deforestation, with the attendant ecological and cultural losses that come from the extinction of species and the threat to tribal cultures. Our commercial choices have ramifications for people a couple of continents away.

(It’s worth noting that one of the chief causes of the 1930s American ‘Dust Bowl’ was over-farming.)

That why organisations such as the Fairtrade Foundation are so important. In a world where people exist on a couple of pence a day, it’s a moral imperative to ensure they receive a decent income. A worker deserves a wage, not exploitation.

It’s not just about exploitation though, it’s about what happens when the harvest fails. We’ve all seen news pictures from the Horn of Africa, so I’m just going to point you to the Disasters Emergency Committee website.

And yeah, I can be cheesy – you can’t spell ‘harvest’ without ‘share’.

There’s a more specifically 20110918-184537.jpgreligious slant to all this as well – if God is creator (via whatever mechanism) of all there is, then respect for that creation and acknowledgement of God’s role in sustaining it should become part of worship. This is something that various branches of religious thought have lost sight of – certainly there seems to be a view among sections of American Christianity that the environment is there for the taking with no regard to the consequences – plunder not stewardship. Maybe that’s tied up with the USA’s roots in apocalyptic millenarianism, but as we’ve seen above, that sort of thinking has terrible ramifications. Churches need to adopt a view of the environment that’s rooted in love and compassion, not greed.

So like many other traditional services, there was wisdom behind the development of harvest festivals. In a world where most of us don’t a connection to the soil, it’s good that there are community events that seek to remind us that there’s more to life than concrete and shppping malls – and I’m speaking as a man who doesn’t walk through nearly enough green spaces. We need to take a moment to stop, look at all that we have, and be thankful, mindful that we’re part of a wider, greener world.

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Versatile Blogger Award

Blogging can be hard work. Not in the same way that digging holes is hard work, but nevertheless, there’s a lot of effort involved – coming up with inspiration, turning that into something coherent, remembering how to spell words like ‘coherent’. Add to that the dark, crushing realisation that around half your readers are Russian spambots, and it’s amazing any blogs ever get written.

(The easiest way to help your favourite blogger to overcome this is to leave comments and hit the ‘Like’ button. Russian spambots don’t do that, at least not legibly.)

All which is just preamble to me passing on my thanks to Heather over at HeatherBlog for nominating me for a Versatile Blogger Award. It genuinely means a lot, especially as it comes from a better writer than me. It’s been a long time since I got nomimated for anything related to my writing (the last time was at High School – I misunderstood the comptetion’s submission guidance and so was forced to enter something I’d written out-of-spec, much to the disgust of my teacher. Of course, the Universal Law Of Irony meant that I was the only person in school who actually won anything).

However, a Versatile Blogger nomination carries with it responsibility. Firstly you have the opportunity to nominate some of your own favourite bloggers, which I’ll do in due course. Then you have to list seven interesting facts about yourself.

This is a lot easier if you actually have seven interesting facts:

1.  I can recite much of Transformers: The Movie off by heart. And when I say ‘can’, I mean ‘do’.

2.  Talking of movies, I cry at them, especially The Iron Giant and Finding Neverland. I also believe that Steve McQueen will one day make it over that fence in The Great Escape, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

3.  My favourite city is Toronto. I promise to take my fiancee there one day.

4.  My favourite song is Thunder Road, but my favourite hymn is Be Thou My Vision.

5. I’m not a good driver.

6. My karaoke song is Born to Run.

7.  I almost quit this blog a couple of months ago because I didn’t think it would achieve critical mass. I’m glad I didn’t, and I guess that’s the moral of this post; don’t give up and never forget to give encouragement whenever you can. You never know when it’s really, really needed…

Blogging My iPod: An exercise in futility

20110831-115749.jpgSo I’m suffering a case of blogger’s block again. Never fear – I have a plan! Thanks to my fancy new smartphone I’m carrying around a good chunk of my music collection, and therefore I can use the song titles as inspiration. Genius, right?! Let’s go!

Hits Shuffle.

JCB Song
So. JCBs. They’re big. Big and yellow. Big, yellow and noisy. Yes.

Crickets chirp, hits Shuffle again.

The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight
Okay. The sidewinder is a… Is it a missile? I think it’s a missile. Either that or a minor Transformer. Let me check… No, it’s a snake or a plane. Snake on a plane?

Hits Shuffle again, in an attempt to hide his ignorance

Birdhouse in your Soul
This is an awesome song. Possibly about the ineffable nature of the human soul. Or maybe a birdhouse.

Hits Shuffle, hoping for something easier.

Jump

Hits Shuffle without even trying.

The Rising
Okay, this would be great if it wasn’t the basis for a post on the 10th anniversary of September 11. Next!

Hits Shuffle. Repeatedly.

Anyway You Want It
Well, I’ve been singing for five minutes but I haven’t actually written anything. This ain’t getting my blig blogged.

Wait, blig blogged? What does that even mean?! Stupid typos typed on stupid elfen iphone keypads with stupid sausage fingers…

Tries to hit Shuffle, misses, tries again.

The Group Who Couldn’t Say
I’m sitting here, an uninspired, sausage-fingered, musically illiterate, failed blogger, and now my iPod thinks I’m in the mood for abstract. Great. Because what you really want on a Wednesday is an enigma.

Hits Shuffle for the last time. This has to be the moment of truth. Gimme some sugar baby!

Salty Dog
I give up.

Hits Kindle app; battery runs ou