Wednesday, June 17, 2009

For the Recovering Pr0n Users , a Lighter Look at the Habit

For those of us who may have struggled with compulsive pr0n consumption at one time or another, the comic strip xkcd offers up a dose of laughter.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When Bereft of Blog Post Ideas...

... blog about why other people gave up blogging.

But seriously, the New York Times ran an article a few days ago about why people give up blogging. It's definitely worth the peek if you're looking for some good reading material.

The story mentions the following as possible reasons that blogs go quiet or die:

  • Disappointment over the failure to build a large, loyal audience.

  • Increasing difficulty in maintaining anonymity with the rise of social networks.

  • Decreasing availability of free time.

  • Migration to other forms/media, like Twitter.

  • Depletion of ideas.

This topic is of interest to me on two fronts.

First of all, the decline of activity in my own blog has been rehashed over the past year. For me, free time and ideas shortages have been the biggest drains on blogging output. While I still take a peek at the Sitemeter and Google Analytics stats for this blog, I've never had the illusion that I'd build up a huge audience. I don't think this site ever saw more than 100 visits a day, even when the storyline was at its peak level of tension.

Comments always have been welcome. Accumulating a large quantity of them never was a hope, but along the way I accumulated a blogroll and network of friends with whom I could share the parts of my life that I wasn't ready to discuss with others. These days I look upon this blog not so much part of a real-time conversation as an archive of one person's experiences with a series of trying times at the end of the 30s. It's a story far too obscure to be worth a movie, but it's also worth sharing.

And then there's the other front... I've noticed over the past year that activity of most of the blogs on my RSS reader waned. Some have moved on because their blogs outlived their usefulness. Others have disappeared with vague references to anonymity breaches. A few others have gone private, with invitation-only.

A couple of years ago, if I didn't make an effort to read new content on my feeds, after a few days, the backlog would get so large that I would have to "declare bankruptcy" and hit "mark all as read". Now I can go a full week without touching the feed reader, and I can still keep reasonable pace.

I've blogged about the notion of a social graph before. It's the representation of relationships between people, expressed as a mathematical abstraction that's used extensively in computer science. The blogosphere, both via blogrolls and RSS feed subscriptions, give evidence to pieces of the social graph. Some are hubs, with lots of incoming and outbound links. Others are less connected.

Visualized, the set of nodes to which my blog belongs is looking very much like a the seed head of a dandelion. With the passage of time, the seeds drift away from the flower. And so, the nodes fade on this cluster of the graph. For now, I am reluctant to let loose into the free and open blue that is the sky... not while there are still other posts to read and conversations to be had.

So now I'm goin' back again,
I got to get to her somehow.
All the people we used to know
They're an illusion to me now.
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenter's wives.
Don't know how it all got started,
I don't know what they're doin' with their lives.
But me, I'm still on the road
Headin' for another joint
We always did feel the same,
We just saw it from a different point of view,
Tangled up in blue.

-- Bob Dylan, "Tangled up in Blue", Blood on the Tracks

Cue that harmonica coda.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

All Kids, All the Time

(sitting down on the couch with a glass of Fünf Riesling, listening to the grown up radio station's Saturday night mix of funk, reggae, and jam bands)

Work commitments haven't been as insane of late, but they have kept me busy nonetheless. Lately, the big thing has been kid commitments. Not that there's anything wrong with that. :-)

For both of my kids, the school year wrapped up just before Memorial Day weekend. I took off the Friday morning prior to that weekend so that I could see the end-of-the year presentation put on by my older daughter's kindergarten class.

I had them for the full holiday weekend, from Friday afternoon all the way through Monday evening. We did quite a bit, playing miniature golf (older daughter loved it, younger daughter was good for nine holes), grilling out, and going to see the (cringe) Hannah Montana movie.

Our younger daughter has been having a more difficult time doing without me of late. A lot of evenings, STBX says, the daughter will say that she wants to go stay with me for the night. A couple of times, she has put the younger daughter on the phone as she cries about missing me. According to STBX, the crying doesn't happen after she's gotten into trouble with STBX, so she didn't think it was manipulation of any kind.

Normally, last weekend would have been kid-free, but the fates had other plans. The grown up radio station in town has contests. I sign up for them on their website. Usually, the contests are for free tickets, ranging from private concerts locally to big events like Bonnaroo.

I wound up winning a prize in early May, but it was for the two free tickets to the not-so-far-away theme park where the soft drinks and sunscreen are in abundance and free of cost. The catch was that they were good only up through the end of May, so I made plans with STBX to take her and them on the final Saturday.

We wound up changing plans when the day's forecast showed showers. In light of my younger daughter's desire to see more of me, I picked them up for a few hours that day and took them out to lunch and miniature golf. Although my younger daughter said she wouldn't give up this time around, she lost interest around the ninth hole again.

So we decided to go the next day, which turned out to be a good move because the weather was perfect. Although the park had a good size attendance, lines on the rides subsided after the first couple of hours as people made their way over to the water park.

We went over to the park after eating lunch as well, and the kids seemed to have a better time with sliding down the water slides ad infinitum than they did with the rides, so I'm glad we packed our swim suits.

This trip was the longest I had been around STBX since I had to stay over at her place on Christmas Eve. We managed to stay civil, although at times she seemed edgy with me. I drove us down and back in the same day, so we were able to sidestep the expense and thorny issue of overnight accommodations.

This weekend is the girls' dance school recital, so they are not staying with me. STBX booked them in a lot of classes this year, so both kids will be making a lot of appearances. The younger daughter had two routines, one tumbling and one dance act. The older daugther has three performances -- a tap routine, her competition act, and another hip hop routine that all of the competition team members are performing. Both of them have parts in the finale.

The school is celebrating its 15th anniversary, and it's doing so by making its already grueling recital even longer. Normally the number of acts is somewhere in the low-to-mid 40s. This year, they have 52 of them.

This will be the third year that I will be working one of the follow spotlights they use on solo and duet acts, so I had to be there for the dress rehearsal today. I was there just before 9 am and didn't get out until 5:30 pm. We'll have to be there around 1 pm on Sunday, and between routines and the post show presentation of awards, we probably will be there past 5 again.

Come Monday, evening, I'll have to take off work and get the kids from STBX because she has a preschool co-op meeting around 5:30 pm, so the kids will get some more daddy time. I have the kids next weekend, too.

Although I enjoy being a daddy, I don't feel like I've had much in the way of time to myself away from either work or kids, so I'll be glad to get some quiet time in a couple of weeks. I think the motivation to finish off the divorce paper work will be pretty high by then.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Have I Mentioned that I love xkcd?

My wild speculation is that a good chunk of my readership have at one time had a conversation that resembles the first panel of this strip.

If you've got a spare few moments, click on the comic to view some of the other fine creations of this cartoonist.