Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

Interwebs – you waited for me!

June 14, 2011

I wasn’t sure you’d still be here when I got back!

So, yeah. Hey.

How ya doing, Internet? My name’s Brianne, and I’ve been out of you for about a week and a half now, but I’m super excited about getting back into you.

Work has been crazy, but in a good way. I like being busy, having challenging goals and deadlines to meet. The frustrations are frustrating, but the wins are AWESOME. But there have been some long hours…about 120 of them in the past two weeks.

So I’ve been struggling to stay abreast of the latest online news, and holy crap has there been some. Sadly, I haven’t had a lot of time to process – let alone blog – some of the best stuff. And the Tonys…I missed the Tonys! I was going to bring chicken pot pie, chocolate salty balls and cheesy poofs to a friend’s house to watch the Tonys and show my support for The Book of Mormon, but turns out they didn’t need my contribution – they took home NINE  freaking Tonys! Woo-hoo!

Oooo…oh yeah, and I have a netbook now, and I’ve been doing my Rosetta Stone for Spanish. If there is ever a young male underneath a table, or if a boy and girl are in a boat, I can totally tell you so in two languages. Awwww yeah!

In between running assays and writing reports, I have managed to sneak in a few chapters of Pyramids, by Terry Pratchett. I’m a grudging fan of the Discworld series; I grew up on Piers Anthony’s Xanth – back then there were no other fantasy worlds as far as I was concerned. So, I missed out on Ankh-Morpork until just recently when some good friends re-introduced me to the books. And actually, these friends are involved with putting on the North American Discworld Convention that is taking place in Madison in a few weeks – there are still tickets available, you guys. If you’re a fan, you should go; Sir Terry is going to be present and there are all types of art, theater, role-play, storytelling, costuming and other Discworld merriments to be had. Did I mention that it’s in Madison, Wisconsin – a mere four hours away from the Twin Cities?

So, no news or rants today, but to wrap it up I want to share a couple of my favorite quotes so far from the Harper paperback 2008 edition of Pyramids: 

On gods physically walking among men:

And Dil was realizing that there are few things that so shake belief as seeing, clearly and precisely, the object of that belief. Seeing, contrary to popular wisdom, isn’t believing. It’s where belief stops, because it isn’t needed anymore. -page 178

On camels, the greatest mathematicians in the history of Discworld:

Human mathematical development had always been held back by everyone’s instinctive tendency, when faced with something really complex in the way of triform polynomials or parametric differentials, to count fingers. Camels started from the word go by counting numbers.

Deserts were a great help, too. There weren’t many distractions. As far as camels were concerned, the way to mighty intellectual development was to have nothing much to do and nothing to do it with. -page 193

Absolutely awesome, odd, engaging fantasy storytelling.

See you tomorrow!

Minnesota Skeptics’ Blog

May 23, 2011

Guess what?

I was invited to participate in a group blog for the Minnesota Skeptics’ meetup group! I’ll be writing with at least nine other members, so I anticipate that we’ll have a wide range of skeptical topics to blog about. Do  you wanna see my first article? Do ya? Ohboyohboyohboy!

9/11 Truther Sighting and a MN Skeptics Win

In the Heart of the Beast Theater (HOBT) hosts an annual May Day Parade in Minneapolis. The first part of the parade consists of HOBT-chosen themes and elaborate masks and puppetry, and the second part is reserved for “Free Speech”. Anyone can present any message (as long as it is delivered in a peaceful manner and is appropriate for an audience that has young children present), and this May these guys marched:

Dude’s poster reads:

Read the rest of what I have to say about 9/11 conspiracy theories over at the MN Skeptics’ Blog!

New CUP Contest tomorrow!

May 13, 2011

Okay, I want to write about my week, so you can either bear with me OR if you just want to learn about tomorrow’s CUP Contest scroll all the way down to the last paragraph of this post.

START READING HERE FOR DRAMA! INTRIGUE! BETRAYAL! TOW TRUCKS!

This past week has been amazingly stressful, both in good ways and bad.

On Friday I drove eight hours down to Chicago to visit with my Mom. On Saturday we went to the Art Institute, enjoyed a lovely tapas lunch at Emilio’s, and went to Cirque Eloize that evening. After the show we ate a light dinner at Petterino’s and then came back to the hotel and packed. The next morning we got up early, I dropped Mom off at the train station and I headed over to meet Chicago cool cat and fellow blogger Jeremy and his Chicago cool cat wife, Tina. We puttered around snapping photos in a relatively famous cemetery called Graceland Cemetery, then battled the Mother’s Day crowds to have lunch at Marietta’s (phenomenal lunch and well worth the wait!). I’ll have more info and pics of the Chicago trip in a later post.

I left for Minneapolis at around 2pm, but immediately became stuck in traffic on I94 leaving Chicago. I survived that and stopped at the Belvidere Oasis for road snacks (i.e., junk food that can’t be justified in normal day-to-day existence), and then I made it four hours NW to Mauston, Wisconsin when my car broke down. My bought in February of this year/60-day bumper-to-bumper warranty expiring less than three weeks ago/NEW CAR broke down. When I stopped for gas in Mauston, the engine wouldn’t start again. I called AAA for a tow truck. When I went into the BP to let them know why I was blocking a pump, I was browbeaten into pop clutching the car by this horrific bully of a woman who mocked me for  calling for help when it was so obvious that all I had was a dead battery. We got the engine started and I agreed with her that I should just head for Minneapolis and not stop anymore.

But instead, the second I left the  BP gas station I drove over to a local KMart to buy a battery, just in case mine quit on the trip home. At KMart the car died as I was pulling into a parking spot. Not a good sign, but my first reaction was  joyous indignation as I thought “Ha! I knew that pushy b*tch was wrong!” But then I realized “Oh wait, my car is broke good, innit?” Still, I decided to replace the battery and try for home.

As soon as the battery was in, I started the ignition and the engine roared to life. I headed for Minneapolis, but made myself nauseous with worry for the next three hours. I tried all sorts of tricks to relax including listening to different kinds of music and podcasts to distract myself, breathing deeply and calmly, arguing with myself that even if I did break down I could call for help, and really a breakdown was just money and time.

None of that worked.

I worried for the entire time up until I actually did break down again outside of Hudson, WI, which is about 40 miles from Minneapolis.  I was THIS close to making it home! It was about 9:30pm and night had fallen. I glanced down at my dash and saw that it was completely dark. I glanced at the road in front of me and was horrified to realize that my headlights had gone out. The only reason I was able to see was because the traffic behind me was illuminating the road and the tail lights of the cars in front of me were guiding my way. I pulled off the road just as the engine died. Alternator.

Aych eee double hockey sticks.

To make an already long story slightly less interminable: AAA came and towed me to Stillwater where some nice friends rescued me and put me up for the night.  

Monday was gray and depressing. I had left my glasses in the car at the repair shop and my contacts had conked out, so I spent most of the day with fuzzy vision, which gave me a headache. The car wasn’t ready until 2:30pm. So, many hours and $600 later I left Stillwater. I drove right to the house of some friends in North Minneapolis to relax and be around nice people, because I was so bummed out that I didn’t want to be in an empty apartment by myself. Who knows what kind of damage I could have done the Ben and Jerry’s container in the freezer at my place?

On Tuesday I had to go to the dentist AND I had a doctor’s appointment. Also, work got very…involved that day. The one bright spot was a crazy spring storm and an evening of drinks and gossip at the Independent with a friend.

On Wednesday work was very busy again, and I spent the evening doing laundry and cleaning the house.

So, you see…it’s just been an often crabby, sometimes enjoyable, busy few days.

But yesterday was pretty awesome. Work is crazy busier than usual, but I’ve taken on an interesting new project. After work last night I headed over to the Be’Wiched Deli in Minneapolis to enjoy dinner, drinks and conversation with the Minnesota Skeptics meetup group.

And today I felt like blogging. Woo-hoo!

START READING HERE FOR CUP CONTEST INFORMATION!

So, now that I’ve completely tricked you into reading about my personal drama by putting a misleading title on this blog post, allow me to announce that TOMORROW at 6pm I will post the next Close Up Photo Contest entry. I actually have the CUP Winners page up to date, so stop on by to read the rules, learn about past entries and take a gander at the current player rankings.

See you tomorrow!

I get an award.

April 19, 2011

Regular reader and bloggess of dark urban fantasy, Alannah has awardified me with an award:

I think that’s a nice way to say that this blog is all over the effin board in regard to content. But that’s how we roll over here at Biodork. I’m a jack of all trades, master of none. I know a little about a lot of things. Insert other cliches here.

So per the “rules” of this chain-letter type award I’m supposed to nominate some other blogs and tell you some things about myself. I can do that. I’m always running across exciting new blogs and adding to my blogroll, so this is a good opportunity to pass on some well-deserved kudos for blogs well-written.

Here ye, here ye! I now award The Versatile Blogger Award to – drum roll please! –

I Want to Unfold – Life, Laughter and Music written by an adventurous wander and seeker of knowledge and new experiences. Michelle is an avid music fan, musician and music writer for Examiner.com

Almost Diamonds – One of my newer finds, but Almost Diamonds has been around since 2007. The author writes skeptically about skeptical topics and skepticism, AND she breaks up the tide of serious topics with stories, personal experiences and funny videos and other internet gems.

And two oldy but goodies: I’ve reblogged articles from Blag Hag and Le Cafe Witteveen before, and they’re probably two of the blogs that I’ve been reading since I stumbled into the blog0sphere.

Blag Hag is the very definition of versatile and is a very popular blogger, especially since her Boobquake event in 2010.  Aside from very serious and well-written pieces about feminism, atheism and equality (to name a few) she also share stories about her experiences in grad school, her life in apartment hell, geeky gamer stuff, her speaking engagements, and funny stories from the internet.

Le Cafe Witteveen is written by a Chicago-based professional photographer and videographer. Aside from sharing some of his and his partner’s gorgeous professional and personal artwork, he often writes very thought pieces about his journey from young evangelical leader to rabid, baby-eating atheist. And he’s not above sharing a good poop joke now and then.

And some stuff about me:

  • I like magnets a lot. If I get no other souvenier from a journey, I will at least get a magnet to throw on the side of my fridge as a reminder of the places I’ve been.
  • I love to fiddle with things. Give me a toy that I can put together and take apart and manipulate while I’m watching TV or having a conversation and I’m pleased as punch.
  • I am a conversation interupter and highly enthusiastic. I’ve had to train myself out of this one because it is F&CK*NG annoying. I do slip up now and then, though. I am also an excellent listener. When I’m not interrupting you with my own thoughts, that is.
  • I still have trouble believing Penn and Teller’s Recycling episode.
  • I am one of the geekiest geeks I know who hasn’t seen 2001: A Space Odyssey. It looks really, really boring and I haven’t made myself watch it yet.
  • I have 15 blog posts started and sitting in my drafts folder. Gotta get to those.
  • I save twitter posts to my Favorites with every intention of going back and reading them and then removing them from the Favorites list. So far I have 1648 tweets in that list.

K, that’s enough of that. No more state secrets for you guys – who knows where they’ll end up?

Plants vs. Zombies aka Why My Blog is Slow

January 4, 2011

You may have noticed a dearth of posts over the past week.  This is why:

1)I had very little access to the internet over Christmas break, and I don’t enjoy writing posts on my phone. 

2)Plants vs. Zombies.  Well, I had to beat Zomboss, didn’t I?

3) Over the Christmas break I got out of the groove of checking the blogs I follow, thus no “look what I found on whoseits website!” to share.

4) Plants vs. Zombies.  So…I beat Zomboss at the beginning of the second day I started playing.  But then I had to play through the entire game again to unlock all of the plants for my Zen Garden and raise enough money to buy all of the plants from Crazy Dave’s shop.

5) Watching all of my new DVDs that I got for Christmas with friends.  Really, this is not conducive to writing creative blog posts:

6) Plants vs. Zombies.  See, there are these extra levels in Puzzle Mode, Survival Mode and Mini-Games.  I’ve taken care of all of the mini-games and survival modes, but I haven’t been able to make it to the 15 levels for Vasebreaker and 10 levels for I, Zombie needed to unlock those acheivements! 

Curse you, Zombies!  But don’t worry – as soon as I save my house from these brain-eating jerks, I promise that things will get back to normal.  I figure I’ll get my “geeky Christmas presents” post up at about the same time I usually take down my Christmas decorations.  So….March-ish?

Blog Traffic

October 4, 2010

I know I’ve talked about why I blog, but in the past week I’ve had three people ask me about how I get new commenters and new visitors to my blog.  There are tons of resources on how to increase traffic to your blog (google “how do I increase traffic to my blog”).  But people have asked me, so here are my thoughts.

I am a new blogger – I’ve only had this blog since December 2009 – but my site hits have been gradually increasing over time. 

May 2010 was an oddity – I was published on the WordPress.com frontpage.

I don’t get a ton of hits, but I get enough to hold my interest, and to make writing regularly worth it on the days when I don’t necessarily want to write.  These are some of the factors that I believe play a role in getting people to check out my blog, and to keep them coming back:

Cross-publishing on Facebook and Twitter.  I get most of my regular, returning readers from Facebook.  I think that a lot of people don’t like to subscribe to receive email updates, so FB and Twitter provide an opportunity to unobtrusively knock on the door when I have new posts.  Also, I have friends and family who do FB, but don’t read a lot of blogs.  FB connects them to me. 

Including popular, controversial or unique words in my posts.  Sex, circumcision, diet, porno, Marilyn Monroe, atheism, ValleyScare.  All of these words have coincided with a bump in my viewership and my google search hits.  One of my favorite bloggers, Jeremy from Cafe Witteveen, put the word “vuvuzela” into one of his posts during this summer’s World Cup and received a generous boost in his viewership.   This is a good way to get people to glance once at my blog, but not a great way to gain loyal, returning readers. 

Getting noticed by bigger blogs so that they publicize for me.  I consider this to be one of the coolest things that has happened to me during my time in the blogosphere, and yes, even more than being published on WordPress.com: Jen from BlagHag took notice of my blog and thought it was decent enough to add it to her Recommended Reading List.  Whenever I add a new post, her blog updates so that my post shows up in the left-hand column.   I usually get ~10 hits per day redirected from her site.  I also show up on some blog rolls on other sites and get occasional hits from those.  It’s audience bias – when the bloggers who have an interest in reading me put my blog on their website, chances are decent that their readers will also have an interest in what I’m writing.

Posting early.  Or late.  It seems like I get a rush of hits in the morning, a smaller bump over the lunch hour and then after 5pm.  These are the times when regular readers check their blogs, and I try to publish accordingly.

But whenever I post, I try to post regularly.  I’ve talked with other bloggers and blog readers about this, and it seems to be a popular idea that even if you post once per day, if you post in a predictable manner you’re going to retain regular readership.  People want to know that the stop at my site is going to be worth it.  I like to publish early in the day (but that doesn’t always happen).     

The more I post, the more I show up in google.  Seems pretty obvious, but as my content has grown, I’ve been suprised at some of the searches that lead to my blog.  I have found that some of my past posts are bolstering site visit numbers on days that I don’t publish new material.  Google has sent quite a few visitors my way for a few select search phrases:  Ada Lovelace, ValleyScare 2010, Green Porno, Pi Necklace, MN Renaissance, Chikage Windler, Gluten Free Pancakes, Girl in the Rain.

Get lucky enough to be published on WordPress.com.   At the time my blog was chosen for the WordPress front page I was getting an average of maybe 25 hits/day.  I received 1,383 hits that day.  As soon as I disappeared from the front page my hits came back down, but my daily average moved up to about 35 hits/day. 

Getting site hits has never been the purpose of my blog.  I enjoy writing about what I’m up to and sharing cool, geeky, science, political and social news.  But having readership – especially an active readership that comments, debates and commiserates with me about the things that I write – is definitely a bonus. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Why Blog? Why Comment?

May 6, 2010

Melanie Booth over at Prattlenog was recently featured on Freshly Pressed for a post she wrote called Verb: To Blog.  She explored the reasons why she believes she blogs and then asked this of her readers:

“What are your thoughts about “to blog?” Please share!”

So we did.  I loved reading the answers from her 60+ commenters.  Some people seem to have similar motivations as me for blogging, but others were quite unexpected.  One commenter’s blog is devoted to her clothing line, one guy uses his blog to “help readers to solve their dilemmas”, someone uses their blog as a study guide for his/her course work, one woman is posting an online book.  There were a couple of people who wrote non-English language blogs.  I googled “Why Blog?” and came up with 424,000,000 search results.

I found an interesting article called Rumors of the Death of Blogs are Greatly Exaggerated.  It contains a very nice summary of Technorati’s 2009 The State of the Blogosphere, which was given at the 2009 Blogworld Expo (from this article I learned that are things called “Technorati”, “State of the Blogosphere” and “Blogworld Expo”.  Who knew?  Go to the article for all of the accompanying links).  One of the graphs I liked was the “Please tell us the reasons why you blog”, shown below.

Go here for methodology, and here for the original graph.

So yeah, yeah, yeah…there are a gazillion and one reasons why people blog – personal, professional, selfish, selfless…it’s all good.  Blog if you want to, don’t if you don’t.  This question of “why blog” is critical to bloggers and those who use blogs, but it’s also exhaustively studied.

A more interesting question, in my opinion, started bumping around in my brain when one of Prattlenog’s commenters said that blogging is selfish because only 3% of bloggers comment on other people’s blogs.  I started wondering:

Why and when do people comment on other blogs?

*Usually, I comment mostly when I feel that I have some knowledge, experience or opinion that can add to and continue the conversation.  Social interaction, pure and simple.  It’s fun to engage in intelligent debate and to share ideas with like-minded individuals.

*But I also blog to let authors know that I’m there.  It is a thrill to receive comments from people, especially from new readers or from readers who don’t normally comment.  Knowing how I feel when I get comments encourages me to comment on other blogs. 

*Reader participation questions like Melanie’s (prattlenog) are another reason to comment.  The author is asking What is your opinion?  What do you think?  Why do you do this?  Okey-doke.  I’m game.

*Lastly, and most self-servingly, making a particularly pithy or intelligent comment can actually draw new readership.  Well-written comments at someone else’s blog are a form of advertisement, a sort of “if you like what you read here, zip on over to my blog for more!”  Thus continues the social interaction, but now I’m the originator of new discussions.

Fun!

So if any of y’all 15 or so readers care to chime in, why do you comment on blogs – not necessarily on mine, but in general?  Have I covered the main reasons or are there others?*

*Note the clever comment fishing with the “Reader Participation Question” as outlined in bullet 3 above!