January 15th, 2012

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#500 – Dick Bernard: Some thoughts at 500

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

I began this blog with #1 on March 25, 2009. That is slightly over 1000 days ago, which means I post on an average of every other day. But averages are deceiving. Sometimes I post daily, sometimes a week or more will go by.

I’ve been satisfied with the initial design, and with my initial descriptor of myself: “moderate, pragmatic Democrat”. That’s what I am. I had no idea what, if anything, would evolve. I just started to write. What you see is what you get.

Jody Russell of Thunder Communications got me off the ground with this blog, and I’m very indebted to her for her expertise. My platform is WordPress.

Except for an occasional problem, such as a vicious spam attack fairly early on, things have gone okay.

My topics are whatever happens to strike my fancy on any particular day. Monday’s post will be on Martin Luther King Day; The January 12 post was on the second anniversary of the Haiti earthquake. And on and on.

Along the way, the editor of the Twin Cities Daily Planet noted my work, and many of my blog posts appear there; more recently the Woodbury Patch, part of the burgeoning nationwide Patch network, has been posting me about once a week (I submit, they decide.) Last Thursday’s post on Haiti was ‘picked up’ by the Stillwater and Northfield Patch publications.

You can learn more about the Daily Planet here, and about Patch here. They are part of the burgeoning alternative media world.

The traditional print media (we’re long-time and satisfied subscribers to the Minneapolis Star Tribune) and the local Woodbury Bulletin notices these new kinds of journalism. It’s a new, still unsettled, and certainly imperfect frontier.

I’m meeting other bloggers: Larry Gauper up in Fargo does Wordchipper, and does it well; Alan Pavlik in LA is prolific with Just Above Sunset. There are others.

Most recent discovery is Shawn Otto’s important ScienceDebate.org. I met Shawn some years ago when someone introduced me to him on line, just another name. You might know of him through the film House of Sand and Fog, still available, for which he was screenwriter and co-producer.

Income stream from blogging? fohgettaboutit. Zilch. If I did this for the money, I wouldn’t…. Impact? Who knows? Probably very little, but very little is better than none.

Like anything else, you get somewhere by showing up. Many years ago, June 1972, I heard Alex Haley speak to the annual convention of the National Education Association in Atlantic City. This was the year before his blockbuster, Roots, was published.

My takeaway: he submitted stuff for publication for years, literally, before being published or paid for anything.

I have found that the very act of posting the blog, with the potential of somebody unknown actually finding and reading it, causes me to try hard to gather my thoughts in a coherent and accurate way. I try to do a bit more than just throw words at a wall.

There is a search box on the home page. Enter a word and you’ll see how many of the 500 posts at least mention a particular word: 81 posts mention Democrat; 79 mention Republican; 41 mention Iraq; 32 mention dialogue; 38 mention hell, 9 heaven (the frequency of those two surprised me!) (This post should show up in the list of posts with those words, if this works correctly.)

One of my unique words was the mention of “truncated”. That’s in September 16, 2011. To me, an important political post.

One of my personal ‘favorites’ is discussion of “more ways to communicate less” (February 8, 2011).

Every now and then somebody will comment about the blog, usually favorably, but I’m like the vast majority of the immense numbers of bloggers in this country: mostly we labor in anonymity, hoping one or two will stop by once in awhile to at least scan our thoughts, get inspired or get mad….

We are part of the web of conversation that is necessary for a functioning society.

Thanks for stopping by. If you think this is a worthwhile place, let others know about it. Hopefully I can report at post #1000 about three years from now….

UPDATE Feb. 23, 2012: I neglected to mention my thought process with name of the blog, etc.

When I retired from teacher union work (Jan. 2000) I was president of a group called the Minnesota School Public Relations Association. After an entire life in public education, I decided to observe and feel public schools from ‘outside the walls’. I called myself “Looking at Public Schools from Outside the Walls”, and in 2002 developed a website which still exists here, and includes nearly 60 ideas for visitors. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much interest in the site/activity, and it went dormant in February, 2008, but I kept it on-line.

Friends were encouraging me to do some blogging, and I finally bit in early 2009, and attached my blog to the outsidethewalls platform.

The photos on the home page are 1) from a road beside the ND farm near Berlin where my mother grew up in the early 1900s. Her brother and sister lived on the farm till recent years. The dog is their dog, “Sam”, who when I came to visit knew my routine and looked forward to the walks. He’s passed on some years now.

The other photo looks north from Hawk’s Nest in near dead-center ND, south of and between Carrington and Sykeston. The photo was taken in 2008 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of my high school graduation at Sykeston.

Thanks for stopping by.