(Taking) A moment to thank somebody…

Day 18: Activate a Social Network Thank a Person for Being Awesome

This is part of the UU Blogging Workshops’s Zero to Hero Series

Today’s assignment: If you’re already active on a social network, set up Publicize and link the account to your blog, and/or create a strategy for how you’ll use it.

Note: I am already WAY too connected via social networking sites. My blog is already connected to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube. I’ve been told if I join Pinterest, I will disintegrate like Flynn in Tron.

So instead, I will give a quick shout out to Inga, the woman who was in charge of the self-checkout isle at the QFC grocery store in the Northgate neighborhood in Seattle. Tonight I attended a community council meeting for my neighborhood, Victory Heights. Afterwards, I drove over to the store to pick up some surprise chocolate cake for the wifey.

I grab the cake, some bagels, and 2 for 1 Angus steaks! At the self-checkout isle, low and behold, I had forgotten my shopping bag! You see, in Seattle you have to bring your own reusable bag because there’s a plastic bag ban. I support this. However, at this moment I have no bag in which to put my Angus steak and chocolate cake.

I ask the checker on duty (Inga) if I can run out to my car really quick to grab a bag. (We keep about 10 of them in the car just in case) She laughed and said ok. So I run outside really quick, grab my bag, and run inside only to find that Inga had rung up my items for me… in the self checkout! It was one of those moments where a person took a couple minutes out of their day to do something small, meaningful and unexpected.

It wasn’t her job, but she did something nice for me. A complete stranger. She is awesomesause! So I asked her manager for a customer input card and let her know how appreciative I was of such a gesture of kindness. I hope she gets employee of the month, or at least a raise or something.

Which reminds me that I need to take advantage of more opportunities to do something nice for complete strangers. I need to pay it forward.

So how about you? Has anybody ever gone out of their way to do something nice for you without even knowing you? Let me know!

(Web)comics are a lot like blogs, right?

Day 9: Head a little deeper into the blogosphere.

This is part of the UU Blogging Workshops’s Zero to Hero Series

Today’s assignment: Follow five more blogs and/or topics.

I follow around 40 different blogs, some of which update daily, others only post about once a month. I organize them in Feedly based on category; so I’ll share with you the top five blogs I have in my “Web Comics” folder. Before the interwebs was created by Al Gore, it used to be almost impossible to find indie-comics unless your local comicbook shop was willing to carry some. Once the world wide web took off, artists realized it would be a great platform to self-publish their art and storyline, and so webcomics were born.

So here are five web comics I would recommend you read/follow:

Gunnerkrigg Court is like Harry Potter meets H.P. Lovecraft with a little Blade Runner mixed in for good measure. It follows a young girl named Antimony as she navigates through a strange school and world where magic and technology are divided into mysterious camps of intrigue and danger.

Unsounded has a wonderfully crafted and detailed world of sorcerers and empires which follows the exploits of an undead wright and his frenemy Sette Frummagem, who is on a mission for her kingpin uncle. They get into all kinds of trouble with bandits, monsters, local constables, but their biggest challenges lay inside their own histories. Absolute genious!

Dar! has actually finished its webcomic run and its artist Erika Moen has moved on to cooler projects. However, the story is real, and raw, and explicit. Definitely not safe for workDar! follows Erika in the form of a webcomic journal as she struggles with issues of gender, sexual identity, and how to grow up as a 20-something in the real world. It is very well drawn and very well written.

PVP Online is one of the oldest and most celebrated webcomics on the internet. Scott Kurtz has been working on this labor of love since 1998 and over 15 years you can watch his storytelling and art evolve into a masterpiece. PVP (Player vs. Player) tells the story of a small gaming magazine and the strange people employed there. Sometimes serious, mostly hilarious, you kind of have to be a geek/gamer/computer person to get it, but it’s well worth the time to read it from beginning to now.

Judecca is a dark, melancholy story of what seems to be a land of the dead, where people have forgotten who they were, but where they physically take on aspects of their downfallen personalities. It is slow to update and has only been around since 2009, but is worth the wait because the artist is brilliant! It is creepy, strange and seems like Donnie Darko got caught in a blender with Alice in Wonderland.

Happy reading! If you know of any webcomics you think I’d be interested in, let me know!

Head(ings) and tales…

Day 7: Do Some More Personalizing

This is part of the UU Blogging Workshops’s Zero to Hero Series

Today’s assignment: create and upload a simple header, or test out a few different backgrounds.

So, I threw together the WMAA header in Photoshop. I wanted something that pulled a number of different elements from my history. Plus, it goes along with the tagline and other curious questions. My blog has always been about random thoughts and experiences; some serious, some playful, all important. So, here’s the explanation for the image header…

not loud enough...
not loud enough…

Captain Kirk. What can I say. Growing up, science fiction made up a huge part of my book list. Asimov, Roddenberry, Clarke, Herbert (and more) inspired me with takes of the human race far into the future. Star Trek was one of my favorite stories. It’s the hopeful future of humanity; the dream of world community that allows us to go beyond our world and explore the rest of the universe. We just need some awesome captains to lead the way.

Cherry pie. I like pie. Pie is good. What else can I say; I like dessert. Life needs something a little sweet now and again. Plus, I’m a foodie. That slice of cherry pie has most likely been soaked in bourbon and contains pieces of bacon. For some people, food just isn’t that interesting. I know a lot of people who are very picky eaters and that’s ok. It just means there is more culinary deliciousness for me to investigate!

yup, still creepy...
yup, still creepy…

Rubber ducky. He’s the one. Jim Henson has made some amazing creatures over the years. Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth… these shows and movie unlocked the fantasy for my small child brain. Where my early teen self was obsessed with sci-fi, my younger self loved the stories brought to life by Henson and his colleagues. Modern CG will never be able to replace those puppets.

The universe. While I love fiction, I also love science. There is nothing cooler than learning about the mysteries of the universe. Recently, Bill Nye (the science guy) debated noted creationist Bill Ham on the origins of the universe. It really makes me sad that debate even had to happen; it’s one thing to have faith in God, it’s another to ignore confirmed evidence just because it happens to disagree with a book noted for its allegory and parables. Science is what will get us up and out there to the great unknown… it has power and mystery enough for me. I just wish it were enough for everyone.

wow...
wow…

Magneto. Comic books were a fun distraction while I was in high school. I loved the art and creativity that allowed super hero stories to come to life. I got involved in reading graphic novels too, like The Crow, Watchmen, TMNT, Black Hole and a lot of the Dark Horse series. These were more adult in nature, offering mature stories but with just as amazing artwork.  These taught me that heroes can fail, the good guys don’t always win and life is not as black and white, good and evil as I used to think. That we’re all a collection of experience and we have more power than we give ourselves credit for.

Just a little trivia behind What’s My Age Again and other curious questions. What are some things that inspired your blog/header?

A (Facebook) look back…

Day 6: Publish a Post the Includes a New Element

This is part of the UU Blogging Workshops’s Zero to Hero Series

Today’s Assignment: publish a post that includes a new-to-you element.

The biggest rage on the facespace these days is “A Look Back” feature they’ve rolled out. It’s a video that aggregates your likes and photos into an “intelligent” 1 minute music video. I have to say, mine turned out pretty well. However, I will admit that my wife shows up more than I do. lol I suppose that’s love.

One good (or bad) aspect of being part of social media is that I can track all the insane boring happenings of my daily life in detail. Nothing is lost; just hidden in the past and waiting to be rediscovered. When Heather and I finally have kids, their whole lives will most likely be digitally stored for playback whenever they want. Baby pictures, YouTube videos, they will chronicle in 1080p the development of my kids until they create their own social media presence.

When I was younger, my parents would bust out the old photo albums (even better yet! Slide shows!) to teach us about friends and family history. Now I’ll just hand the kids a tablet with an interactive video/slide show/music video. Which is pretty cool. We’ve gone beyond the analog album and made nostalgia a multimedia experience.

But one of the downfalls of EVERYTHING being captured on social media; it’s harder to find the hidden gems of real greatness amid the big pile of crap. In the old family album, only the best of the best photos were included. Film was expensive and developing it was expensive and photoshop didn’t exist… so there was a preciousness to the picture. It was an artifact with history and power. Now the good is mixed all around with the bad and even worse, the irrelevant.

My kids will look back on my timeline years from now and most likely use it as proof of how boring dad is. “How many pictures of beer can you take?” will probably be the tween comment.

So, without further ado….

Shining like a (crazy) diamond…

Day 5: Love Your Theme

This is part of the UU Blogging Workshops’s Zero to Hero Series

Today’s assignment: try out at least three other themes — even if you’re happy with the one you have. Include at least one you would never think of using.

I’m actually going to say “no” to this prompt. I’m happy with my look and feel. While I may change it sometime at a later date, for now things are staying the same.

Back when I created WMAA, I experimented with five or six themes. It was really hard finding the right look. I wanted something minimalistic, easy to use and customizable. There are a lot of really good looking themes out there. Unfortunately, many of them wouldn’t let me change the header image or wanted me to pay to play. I have no problem paying for a good theme, especially if I were making money off the blog. But since I was new and no profit was involved, I decided to use the Twenty Ten theme. It does everything I need it to do without being too difficult to manage and it’s free!

I can see the attraction to other sites like Blogger over WordPress. In order to make WordPress really work, you need some knowledge of HTML and CSS. It’s a powerful content managed system (CMS) but there is a learning curve. If you’re not a techie, it can seem overwhelming. You don’t really need to know much to get a Blogger site up and running; you sacrifice customization for ease of use.

Which is great! There are platforms out there for everybody, regardless of tech skill. Blogging is about writing and sharing, not who is better at winning the interwebs! Sure, everybody wants their blog to look cool, sharp, and snazzy. But writing is what makes the blog shine.

And I’ll keep shining…