“Slow Road Home”

I must admit I am impressed. I finished reading Fred First’s new book this weekend. I have been dragging out the finish quite frankly because I was enjoying the read so much and didn’t want it to be over.

Since I am cursed with an omnivorous appetite to read (thank God for the internet), I have read many books on a variety of subjects. There has always been a place in my heart for those few books I have stumbled across that weren’t widely read, but really spoke of a certain place in space and time and the authors connection there.

I have been following Fred’s journey for a relatively short time on his blog. It was his photo’s that first brought me in, but, it was the story which kept me coming back. And the audacity of his publishing his own book caused me to take him up on his pre-publication offer to pay the postage and order the book. I am very glad I did. I devoured the first half of the book and had to force myself to slow down and savor the remainder.

To give an idea of how much I was impressed by the word pictures I was seeing, I would divide my reading between the book itself and the archives at “Fragments From Floyd”. It was this reading and others that led me to begin to find my own voice and start this blog. You will find references to different conversations I found there in my archives and on Fred’s site. In many ways I find myself following in Fred’s footsteps, at 52 it’s nice to have someone up ahead breaking path. And his emails and blog posts are like calling back encouragement to those of us who are following.

Fred, keep strolling through the woods, keep taking photos, and keep writing. There are those of us out in the virtual community growing out of Floyd County, Virginia who will keep coming back to your front porch for the stories…and the companionship. Thanks, Fred.

And if you find yourself going over to visit with the Floyd County folks, tell ’em Gary sent ya…


A List Apart: Articles: 10 Tips on Writing the Living Web

I was cleaning up my bookmark list this morning and what usually happens when I try happened. I followed an old link that crashed. Then in trying to find a new clean link to the site I found a article that has more relevance to me now than when it was first published…

A List Apart: Articles: 10 Tips on Writing the Living Web: “Snapshot :
Your information architecture is as smooth, clear, and inviting as a lake. Your design rocks. Your code works. But what keeps readers coming back is compelling writing that’s continually fresh and new. Updating daily content can challenge the most dedicated scribe or site owner. Mark Bernstein’s ten tips will help you keep the good words (and readers) coming.”

That was the Blurb on the home page of A List Apart that caught my attention. Which led to a really good article on not only why to write, but how.

In first reading I was struck by some of the points Mark Bernstein had to make. Since I am in the beginning stages of trying to define not only why I am writing but what I am being pulled to say. I was particularly impressed by:

“Write for a reason, and know why you write. Whether your daily updates concern your work life, your hobbies, or your innermost feelings, write passionately about things that matter.

To an artist, the smallest grace note and the tiniest flourish may be matters of great importance. Show us the details, teach us why they matter. People are fascinated by detail and enthralled by passion; explain to us why it matters to you, and no detail is too small, no technical question too arcane.

Bad personal sites bore us by telling us about trivial events and casual encounters about which we have no reason to care. Don’t tell us what happened: tell us why it matters. Don’t tell us your opinion: tell us why the question is important.”

I guess that makes my reason for writing more of the search for the reason, than the reason for the search. If you follow along with my search maybe we can both arrive at the reason together. I promise to try not to bore, and if I do please tell me.

“If you are writing for the Living Web, you must write consistently. You need not write constantly, and you need not write long, but you must write often. One afternoon in grad school, I heard B. F. Skinner remark that fifteen minutes a day, every day, adds up to about book every year, which he suggested was as much
writing as anyone should indulge. You don’t need to write much, but you must write, and write often.”

I like the idea of the”Living Web” which Mark attributes to Dan Chan of Daypop. As I write this I am reminded of something I have seen over and over in the years I have been online and reading others blogs. It is the shared data that is out among the readers. Fred First has seen it when he asks a tech question and gets an answer from his readers. Jerry Pournelle has had it for years, when he would throw out a problem he was having with his technology, he would often get answers almost faster than he could post. It is almost like we are watching the evolution of the first glimmers of a shared human brain.

Then there’s that old bugaboo about writing often. I have always heard that it is harder to get started writing and develop the habit than it is feeding the monster in the long run. Hopefully, like all habits, doing something regularly for 30 days and it becomes a habit…

When he speaks of being good friends, I interpret that as the sense of community that grows from the interhnge of ideas that comes from sharing…

Read widely and well, on the web and off, and in your web writing take special care to acknowledge the good work and good ideas of other writers. Show them at their best, pointing with grace and respect to issues where you and they differ. Take special care to be generous to good ideas from those who are less well known, less powerful, and less influential than you.

Weblog writers and other participants in the Living Web gain readers by exchanging links and ideas…Find ways to be a good friend. All writers thrive on ideas; distribute them generously and always share the credit. Be generous with links. Be generous, too, with your time and effort; A-list sites may not need your traffic, but everyone can use a hand.

There is plenty of useful info in this article, so follow the link and read the whole thing.


Day into Night

Do you find it as disconcerting as I do when the morning goes from sunny to dusk in an hour? As you can tell from the screenshot, the weather here is a bit unsettled on this Memorial Day 2006. I am sure a whole lot of barbeque is being doused by the rain.

Today usually marks the beginning of the barbeque season here, which is a whole nuther thing than what ya’ll do in the Blue Ridge region. For one thing we are talkin’ smoked meat…and we are talkin’ beef briskit, the most unused piece of beef in existance. Of course, it takes a bit of work to make a brisket edible, mainly hours and hours of smoking. I actually started mine yesterday afternoon. Of course, you don’t do any of this at a high temperature.

So as I sit here watching the rain my brisket is finishing off in the oven at 250…Ya’ll have a great day, hear.

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