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Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, Typhoons, Tsunamis and Earthquakes



Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, originally uploaded by Aldon.

I often start off my month with a blog post entitled Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. It harkens back to an old childhood belief that the incantation Rabbit, Rabbit, first thing on the first day of each month, in different forms depending on where you live, would bring good luck for the month. This month, I’m including pictures of three rabbits taken at a local agricultural fair. This is balanced out by reading blog posts from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and beyond about Typhoon Ondoy, the Tsunami, and earthquakes.

The Typhoon was brought home to me as I sit in my safe home in Connecticut looking out the window at the beautiful autumnal weather, as I read various Filipino blogs, many with pictures or video of the flooding and appeals for people to donate to help those in the hardest hit areas.

Then, it was Rachelle’s blog post, Tsunami in the Pacific... that really brought home the Tsunami. Rachelle describes herself as “the only filipino blogger in Saipan... a highly qualified elementary instructor, [and] a sweet and loving wife”. She starts off her blog post, “I panicked when a parent came in my classroom right after I let my students in my classroom 8am asking if he can pick his child because there is a Tsunami alert...” Saipan was spared, but American Samoa was not.

My cause for panic is much simpler. It is an overflowing incoming email box and a lot of catching up and writing to do after the conference I was at yesterday. So, for friends in the Philippines, Saipan, American Samoa, and the environs, I hope that October will bring good luck during the days after the Typhoon and the Tsunami. I hope it will bring good luck here as well as I look at the tasks ahead including several very interesting projects.

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit.

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EntreCard Updates

Bloggers seeking traffic for their blogs need two things. The first is good content, and the second is to be findable. The first is just a matter of good writing. The second is more challenging. There are Search Engine Optimizations experts out there that will tell you all kinds of methods of getting incoming links, building your mailing list, getting people to subscribe to your RSS feed and so on. The bottom line is that you need to promote your site, and ideally do it where you are likely to find potential regular readers.

This is often done through link exchanges, traffic or click exchanges, and what I like to call blogger advertising networks. Many of these exchanges or networks have features from several categories and people will argue about whether a site is a link exchange, a click exchange, or an advertising network various levels of praise or derision.

One of the most notorious such networks is EntreCard. A large community has built up around EntreCard and it is amazing to see how they manage to continue in spite of repeated management snafus. One of the biggest was the way they mishandled the introduction of paid advertising. Many people complained, many people left, but still they muddled along. Then, they changed the payout for clicking on advertising sites. This resulted in more complaining, as well as more people leaving or cutting back their activities on EntreCard.

Now, they have announce that they are bringing back paid advertising in a different form and more sites are leaving. What is unfortunate is that the sites leaving tend to be the ones with the best content, such as Kitchen Retro, The Virtual Dime Museum, Symphony of Love and Politicus. This comes back to the key issue of any blogging: good content. Some of the sites producing the best content are leaving EntreCard, which makes EntreCard much less desirable a place to advertise or surf.

Confronting the Blank Page

Thursday evening. The digital display on the front of the dust covered cable box reads 9:11. The house is empty and quiet. Kim had to work late and Fiona, my youngest daughter, the only one that has not headed off to college yet, is out at a concert with a friend.

There are still thousands of unread emails in my inbox beckoning to me, but I have done enough on the computer today. I read emails, visited various blogs, wrote a few replies, comments on blogs and a post for my own blog. I also did a little programming for a project that is winding down with a frustrating denouement and did some investigating for some future projects and blog posts.

The hum of the computers adds to the empty feeling of the house. After I prepared my one person dinner; a steak I was supposed to eat with Kim last night, but worked too late to be home for dinner, along with some tomatoes from our weekly community supported agriculture delivery, I fled the house in search of something; something to foretell the next great adventure.

In less than two months, I will start on my next attempt at writing a novel. November is National Novel Writing month. I wrote a novel in 2007 which sits on my hard drive. 2008 saw false starts which ended up without a novel being completed. This year, I have my story in mind and the characters are fighting for recognition and definition.

One thing I did not like about my 2007 novel is that the characters were not as complicated as I would have liked. They did not grow or change as much as I wanted. I’ve been reading Irvin Yalom’s “Everyday gets a little closer”. It isn’t fiction. It is the recounting of a person in therapy with Dr. Yalom and provides lots of depth and growth of the main character.

A friend of mine is fighting leukemia. In a recent journal entry, she spoke about “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society”. I checked online to find that it is not currently available at the public library. Yet I headed over there to see if a librarian might suggest a book somehow like that.

After a brief discussion, where we found most of the suggestions where also all checked out, the librarian suggested “The Reader” by Bernard Schlink. She mentioned that it was much better than the movie, which I hadn’t seen. Yet as I stood at the shelves, I decided to check out both, “The Reader” as well as “Flights of Love” by the same author.

I headed up to bed to quietly read while I waited for Kim and Fiona to get home. I was struck by the detailed descriptions in the beginning of “Flights of Love”. This is another area where I am weak in my writing and I’m thinking of trying to work on this as well.

I have been writing every day for my blog. I believe that the discipline has helped my writing, however, I still need to work extensively on describing setting and exploring the evolving characters in my stories. This is not something I really work on in my blog posts, but I may try doing more of that as writing exercises.

As I thought about this, my thoughts returned to Wednesday evening’s open house at my daughter’s school. Her teacher talked about how everyone claims to read with their children, but writing is also important and who talks about writing with their children? He will be sending home writing prompts for Fiona. I may get Fiona to put her writings in a blog. We’ll see. I wondered, should I write my own responses to the writing prompts? I don’t think that would be good. She needs to write her way and not have me writing about the same things. So, I will look for things to write about to expand my descriptive writing abilities.

The little display in the lower right hand corner of my laptop tells me it is now 9:40 as my wife walks in the door. The house is no longer empty the way it had been. I have confronted the blank page and written a long blog post. I will reread it and edit it in the morning.

Friday morning. I have completed my edits and will post the blog post. I pause to wonder about my audience. Many different people approach my blog from many different perspectives. What will they, what will you, get out of this blog post?

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

Well, another month has started, and as is my tradition, I start it off with the phrase Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, invoking hopes for a lucky month. As noted yesterday, it is the start of a new school year and my Facebook page has been plastered with pictures of friends’ children returning back to school.

I’m starting the day off a bit more groggily than normal. The bedroom was stuffy last night and I did not sleep well. I was thinking I might sleep well, since I had gotten some good exercise picking raspberries in the afternoon. I figure we must have frozen about six pounds of berries and eaten another two pounds.

Online, EntreCard’s new efforts to curtail growth are supposed to take effect today. A brief check of my transactions indicates that it hasn’t taken effect yet, but they’ve been know to make changes retroactively, so who knows what will happen.

Meanwhile, I continue to read Twitterville and deal with several different online issues. More soon.

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Start of School Updates

Slowly, the patterns of fall return. Today, Fiona took the bus to school. It was the first day, and is usually the case, the bus was a little late as everyone got back into the swing of waiting for the bus, saying their goodbyes and heading off to school. Last night Fiona was tired and not looking forward to school, but after a good night’s sleep she was excited to see her old friends, her new teacher and what the year will bring.

After a busy week, I’ve more or less caught back up with my emails. Sure there are a bunch of emails from earlier in the year that I’ve not gotten a chance to read, but I have read everything since we got back from vacation.

Many of the emails are in response to various things I’ve written and deserve some follow up here.

The Kindle

On my blog post about Progressive Blogs and Citizen Journalists on Kindle, Kate from After Cancer, now what let me know that her blog is now on Kindle. In addition, I told about Uppity Wisconsin on Kindle and RootsWire on Kindle

One person asked about online news sites on Kindle. The big players are there. The New York Times on Kindle costs $13.99 a month. I don’t know what percentage Amazon takes. Likewise The Washington Post on Kindle and the Boston Globe on Kindle both cost $9.99 a month. What is missing are smaller papers and online only news sites. I’m trying to find out more about what a local paper or online news site needs to do to get on Kindle. That will have to wait for a further update.

Twitterville

I continue to enjoy reading my way through Twitterville. I’ve read the section about how Twitter started as well as the part about Twitter at SXSW. I’m now getting closer to the meat of the story, in the section where Shel Israel about Ricardo Guerrero, @ggroovin, of Dell first exploring Twitter. Meanwhile, I continue to work with the efforts to save dogs from kill shelters in Connecticut.

CT Underhound Railroad

Recently Zsuzsa who sends the @LastChanceCT tweets joined theCT Underhound Railroad Mailing List. We talked about Twitter in terms of outreach and she had two great stories.

The Grant County Shelter, KY, @GrantCoShelter tweeted this message on Thursday August 27th: “Urgent need 4 fosters & rescues. Cnty ordered 30+ dogs euthanized 8/31 if not pulled from shelter. Grant Cnty KY-35 miles south of Cincy OH”

Twitter users were able to repost this message to help get the message out quickly & crosspost to Rescue sites. Here's last nights update from the Grant county Shelter: “Thanks to all of you, we adopted 22 dogs today and about 33 yesterday- 55 dogs in 2 days. All healthy adoptable dogs are safe!”

Another great example: Recently a rescue dog from TN, just placed in a home Freeport, ME ran away. The rescue tweeted the message, it was retweeted. I contacted LLBean PR in Freeport, thru Twitter & they sent out an Urgent email blast to employees to be on the lookout for this dog. We also found wonderful storeowners throughout Freeport (also on twitter) who reposted the message. It was highly publicized on Twitter. I read later the dog was found! We were all so grateful & happy for the support of the Twitter community.

One friend saw that I had Retweeted a recent message from LastChanceCT and asked how to Retweet. It depends on how you are getting your twitter messages. Mostly, I get them on the web and I just copy the message and past it into the box where they ask what I’m doing. Then, I stick in before the message RT and the userid of the person who originally sent it.

Other bloggers from the CT Working Families Annual Meeting

While I was at the CT Working Families Annual Meeting I ran into many old friends. Mary Geake mentioned that she now has a blog, The Politicians Wife. She also mentioned that her brother has a blog, Rookie Internet Entrepreneur. Also, I had a brief chat with @CouncilorCotto who is on Twitter but currently has his tweets protected.

The Underhill Decision

Last week, I wrote a little bit about The Decision by Judge Underhill concerning the Citizens’ Election Program. Lots of people put out press releases and I added my thoughts on Hopeless Candidates. Most recently, I’ve receive an email to the Attorney General’s press release saying that he will seek and immediate stay. My understanding is that there are plenty of talks going on today and I am still hoping for more updates soon.

AudioPal

Today, I received an email about AudioPal, “the first voice-enabled status update tool”. Well, I was thinking that Utterli probably fit that bill better. Nonetheless, I gave the AudioPal beta a try. You go to a website, call in with a number and pin provided, get an email with the link to your message which you can then paste into whatever website you choose:

Hmm. Too many steps. If they gave me a phone number and a pin, and allowed me to set preferences to where I wanted my audio status posted, that would be nice. Come to think of it, that is pretty much what Utterli already does.

Okay, there are probably a bunch of other random updates I should add, but I should also get some other work done.

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