An average of 39 people a day read this blog.
Sparkwood & 21 has always been, and will always be, a personal site. But I run across so much amazing content on the internet every day, that I want a place to share it all without mucking up the format of S & 21. Enter: Misc. Etc.
There you will find photos not taken by me, excerpts not written by me and other web detritus not created by me that is worth seeing. I would love it very much if you followed, subscribed, bookmarked or however you do it.
Curating is fun.
This morning I walked out the door, late, and down the sloping hill to look for a bus. Instead I found my boyfriend. Running in to him at a bus stop unexpectedly is like going to work and finding your desk covered with cupcakes. With pink sprinkles.
After a ride six blocks, I left him on the bus, and boarded a BART train. I watched a woman French braid her own hair, something I have never even been able to do to anyone else, much less myself. A young boy with a European accent I couldn't place explained to another young boy what Berkeley was like: "Young students, people in flowing clothes, revolutionaries and poets, bums."
After exiting the train car I swooped around a mother and her three children who were all holding hands, walking four abreast. I was too irritated by their blocking of pedestrian traffic and toddler-pace that I failed to find it cute. Even though it was.
At Pine and Front a cop car screamed up, slid to a stop, and an officer climbed out. A man in the middle of the intersection pointed to the northeast corner, where I finally saw what the police were there for. A woman, screaming, her legs maybe broken, or, just, somehow not near her, in a lump in the street. Officers attempted to pull her out of the road. Her face was twisted, and she howled. My walk light turned white, and I had to go. Attempts to look back on the scene were obscured by hurried pedestrians and darting cars.
A man told me he liked my coat.
I arrived a good half hour behind schedule.
UPDATE: This comment from the very boyfriend I ran into this morning deserves front page status:
I’m glad that you wrote this because after you got off the bus, I had an amazing rest of my trip.
First, I get a seat and sit with my crutches in front of me. As you know, it was a crowded bus. As the middle-aged man in the aisle did not know, my crutches are not a reliable thing to hold on to. The bus pulled away and he nearly fell over as my crutches and I were unprepared to bear his weight.
Then, the larger gentlemen next to me starts complaining about something I don’t understand, and appears to be talking to me. Finally I get it: something smells like garlic and he is displeased. “I don’t mind it, garlic,” he says, “but not first thing in the morning!”
A few stops later a cane-wielding middle aged black guy and an elderly Hispanic woman are both aiming for the one remaining seat in the front of the bus. He asks if she’s going to sit there, and she replies (in Spanish) “I am going to sit there, but I am in pain and moving slowly.” He sits down and says to her, “This is America, lady. I don’t speak Spanish. Here in America, we speak English! Am I right?”
A few moments later my garlic-obsessed friend leans over and says “Spanish is our second language, isn’t it?” I nod in non-official agreement.
Same friend has a buddy named Charles a few seats over. At 7th and Mission, they stand up and exclaim “Heading off! Out of the way please!” as they move towards the front of the bus. When people aren’t moving out of their way (both Charles and my friend are large gentlemen), my pal starts shouting “Let us offboard and then you all can board. Are you too stupid to understand that?”
One of the boarders in question, clearly with a better grasp of Muni etiquette, states loudly “Are you too stupid to get off in the back?” To which guy replies “We’re elderly! We get off in the front!” and she replies “Y’all ain’t elderly, y’all is just high.” Good times. I was laughing. Neither Charles nor my garlic-in-the-morning-loathing compatriot appeared to be much older than 50 or so.
I love the 14, particularly the 14L.
A Bay Area blogger asked me to share a few sentences about corporate or professional blogs. Basically, those built for PR purposes. He works for a museum that is thinking of starting a blog, and he asked me to impart some wisdom. I gave him this instead:
Things I think are important to consider when working with a corporate or otherwise professional blog:
Then: "What is a blog?"
Now: "What is Twitter?"
Then: "Why would anyone want to read your blog?"
Now: "Why would anyone want to read your Twitter updates?"
Then: "You really think people care enough about your opinion that you should have a blog?"
Now: "You really think people want to read about what you are doing all the time?"
Then: "Blogging is for egomaniacal exhibitionists."
Now: "Twitter is for egomaniacal exhibitionists."
Then: "Blog is a funny word. It sounds stupid."
Now: "Twitter is a funny word. It sounds stupid."
Then: "Blogging will be the death of legitimate, long-form journalism."
Now: "Twitter will be the death of legitimate, long-form blogging."
Then: "I would never have a blog."
Now: "I would never have a Twitter."
Then: "Heyyy, I finally got myself a blog, check it out!"
Now: "FormerSkeptic is now following you on Twitter."
I'm covering the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco for the work blog, and I've written a recap of a blogging panel that I attended that you might be interested in. Here's a piece:
Facilitating community" is much easier said than done, but you must make those who visit your site feel welcome. That doesn't mean sparkly icons and overly friendly chit chat with commenters, but make your blog hospitable. Make it easy for them to comment by making sure they don't have to take unnecessary steps to leave feedback. Making someone log in each time, provide a CAPTCHA or other (seemingly) minor requirements can make someone abandon a comment pretty quick like. Encourage commenting both editorially and technically.
Number two in that list should be number one. It is absolutely paramount that you comment and read other people's blogs if you want a community to grow in your own. This may seem to take a lot of time and energy, but I assure you that the most organic way to improve traffic to your blog is to be an active participant in someone else's. Never underestimate the power of the blogger ego. Getting comment feedback is like mainlining crack for many a new media writer. It's what you want! Why not spread the love and comment like crazy? Let people know you are out there, and that you like what they do. Don't fake it! Only comment on that which inspires you, but rather than think to yourself, "That was funny," tell him. Chances are he's gonna wanna see where you came from, click on your name, and if you've got quality content the chances you've gained yourself a reader have gone way up.
The free stuff is great advice if you are a pro organization, but this isn't the best tack for independent bloggers, simply for monetary reasons. However, that bit about promoting your fans is GOLD. If a comment is truly funny or provocative, why not highlight it in a post of its own with your response? Knowing that a blogger respects his readers, values them and even promotes them is big incentive for people to stick around.
This morning I woke up on the right side of the bed. I looked out the window onto a hazy landscape and declared that today would be a good day.
So, imagine my thrill to find in my inbox a note from my dear friend Adam about his brand new political blog Post Politics hosted by the very wise Nashville Post*. It's live. He's back (opinion and analysis and all!). And I'm elated. More elated than someone should rightly be about a blog.
The day continues to be a good one.
*Had to scroll allll the way to the bottom of the blog to find a link to their front page. I am a fan of the subtle branding. And the blog looks fantastic and robust.** Did I mention I'm thrilled?
**Nope, not jealous in the least.