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Category Archives: blogging
Frequently Unasked Questions
1. What does that title mean?
Well, that’s the date here in Surry Hills, and it marks the turning of the year. It’s transitional too between Floating Life and Neil’s Second Decade. It’s a doublepost because it appears on both blogs.
2. Why are you starting yet another blog?
Reviewing the decade of blogging for the twelve Blogging the Noughties posts several things struck me.
I found myself re-presenting personal posts in the main and decided future blogging might be lighter than Floating Life has sometimes been.
A decade seems to have a kind of shape to it; ending Floating Life now seemed better than just going on “forever”.
3. So the new blog will be trivial?
Not entirely. Just lighter.
4. Aren’t you assuming something in the new blog’s title?
It’s true I reach my three-score and ten in the coming decade. Who knows what the future holds?
5. What can we expect on the new blog?
Who knows? Book reviews, of course. I am tossing around a Mary Mackillop post at the moment.
6. What about the National Library?
As some of you know, Floating Life is now archived at the National Library in Canberra. Whether the new one is remains to be seen, but the link to it will be archived at least.
7. What should your regular readers do?
Adjust their links and feeds, I hope. :)
8. What have you done to coordinate your blogs?
The only public blogs that will be ongoing are Neil’s Second Decade, Neil’s Sydney Photo Blog, and English/ESL. The first two will have a feed each to the other prominently displayed in their side bars. They also have matching “skins”. On Neil’s Second Decade (which has only two extra pages) there is a page listing all my blogs back to 2000 with month-by-month archive links.
Yes, believe it or not, I have been blogging for the whole decade! This is the twelfth of a series.
- Conflicting perspectives 1,242 views
- Counting the unemployed 531
- Mendelssohn Bicentenary 388
- Two thought-provoking articles from the SMH 193
- Radio National Poetry special: Five Bells 187
- Thinking about Victoria – updated 165
- Here’s another “100 best novels of all time" post 154
- The 7.30 Report, the Australian War Memorial 153
- Recession solving teacher shortage? 152
- The American Dream – Vanity Fair, Howard Fast, and some right wing flummery 143
Yes, believe it or not, I have been blogging for the whole decade! This is the eleventh of a series.
The last image is Gaza on 10 December 2008. 28 December, ironically, is Holy Innocents Day in many Christian churches… My other images recollect the big silly season story of last January, 13 February, the Henson controversy, going to Wollongong with Sirdan, the Australian Liberal Party, World Youth Day, and the US election – just a sampling of 2008 as I saw it. And I didn’t mention the Olympics, the Sichuan earthquake, and so much more… Quite a year.
Fact: people I know are beginning to lose their jobs… The economic turmoil is far from over… Personally I see much uncertainty and possible change, not all good… Obama? Poor man, I say; what a job he has! And Gaza*, unfolding right now? Whatever the complex issues here, it is very very ugly. There is no doubt that even if Israel achieves whatever “victory” it seeks what they will also have achieved is an upsurge in Mumbai-style terrorism world-wide….
So, Happy New Year?
The folks at SameSame.com sent subscribers a New Year email which reads in part:
So what are the options? The Year of the Global Recession. It’s not very sexy, but it is pretty likely. Or what about The Year Of Enough? I recently read an inspiring tome of the same name by John Naish that’s all about being satisfied with what we already have. There are worse words to use in 2009 than "enough".
How about 2009 – The Year of No Fear? The older I get, the more I realise that we all have stumbling blocks that are in the way of us getting what we really want. Some of them are put in place by others, but most by ourselves. We’ve all got them, and the quicker we can jump over these blocks, the quicker we can get to where we really want to be, wherever that may be. Do I sound like Oprah yet? Good.
So there you go, I officially declare 2009 as The Year Of No Fear.
Who’s going to join me?
It’s a nice thought.
I leave this New Year post with a cartoon Len from Texas had on his blog recently.
But you may also like to visit Worldman: 2009 is ahead. Now there is an optimistic soul whose optimism is based on experiences most of us would find dire!
* I recommend Robert Scheer on Gaza.
Yes, the successor to this blog is now public, launched in December just as this one was in December 2007.
I will conclude the year here as well, and then new entries to Floating Life will cease. The Blogspot photoblog is also going into recess.
Yes, believe it or not, I have been blogging for the whole decade! This is the tenth of a series.
Over on Old Lines from a Floating Life I have been doing a series to wind that blog up before it becomes merely an archive: see 2007 in Review. What is "in review" is the blog, not the world at large — so it is an exercise in "metablogging", aka "wanking". ;) However, I stand by it as it does have useful features, apart from my own enjoyment. There are good lists there of posts I would like people to read, for example.
The latest metablog will amuse some of you: 2007 in review: #23 — template fickleness! I think I may have set some kind of record in the past year or so.
There are strict limits to the fiddling you are allowed to do on WordPress.com. They do not normally allow Java scripts, for example, for (I believe) security reasons. They also limit the changes you can make to a template. I have happily wrecked quite a few templates on Blogspot, but you can’t do that on WordPress. The templates are in fact common to all the blogs which use them, so if they let me restructure something deep down that change would automatically transfer itself to all the blogs using that template. You can, apparently, buy some CSS rights, which I haven’t even though it isn’t expensive. I guess they must decouple you from the shared template then in some way.
There are things you can fiddle with, such as sidebar widgets and custom headings. You will see I do both, because when I have something to fiddle with I am sure to fiddle. One big deficiency in my expertise (among legion deficiencies) is that I have very limited graphic programs apart from what Windows XP brings with it. I don’t have Photoshop for example. However, I have found a neat free program that enables the basics plus more: Photofiltre, a little French thing that doesn’t take up much space and is easy to learn and use:
Good Heavens! Jim Belshaw has been template fiddling! He has also been posting very interesting reflections on the "culture wars" which I may address later. In the meantime I guess I am making a contribution to part of it over at the revived Blogspot site, where I at last remembered to update the Google Search thing to include this blog.
AND EVEN LATER
Redid the header for Ninglun on Blogspot.
— 29 December 2007
New Year Blog Resolutions
Remember the end of 2006?
2. Write about what I know. It is a commonplace of writing teaching that one should write about one’s own backyard. An example of that advice:
I have a muse and essentially her name is Oregon. My stories take place there. Fiction grows out of place. Always keep your eyes open, understand where you grew up. Write about your own backyard, the place you know best.
On the other hand, Elizabeth George wrote:
One piece of advice, that neophyte writers are always given is ‘write about your own backyard’. Loosely translated, this means to write about an environment with which you are familiar. Broadly translated, it means to write what you know. To this I say balderdash. If I had believed that, I’d have spent years attempting to write about Huntington Beach, California, a place that could not interest me less as a setting.
I am writing a blog, not fiction, but I do think I should continue to rant less, and focus more on posts where I actually might have some insight, however modest, to share. With so many millions of blogs out there, does it matter if this one omits many things others find important? I think not. We all have something to offer.
3. Do not use the term "political correctness". Why? Because it has become a shorthand for too many things which strike me as undesirable and lazy. The thing is to argue each instance on its merits, avoiding any such catch-all phrases.
4. Otherwise, go on pretty much as I have. Enough people seem to appreciate it. Just for the record, here’s how it started. A quick quote from a very early entry (May 2000):
Meantime this computer (lent to M and me by G: thanks!) shows definite signs of dying and something will soon have to be done. And my reading goes on. I suspect June may be somewhat less inward-looking in these pages than May. It has been therapy for me, and my justification for putting all this stuff here is that others can benefit from such glimpses into the human condition, because I assume I’m not special. I know reading others’ pages has broadened my thinking.
Well, Resolution 1 seems to have gone by the board, doesn’t it? Even though, believe it or not, I was slightly less loquacious this past year if you just look at my main blog. However, at 84 posts this month has been the second-hottest for 2007, maybe the top, if you include all those 2007 reviews over on Old Floating Life — 26 posts there in December, and Oz Politics had 23… English/ESL had 11 in December, and Ninglun on Blogspot 9. That’s 153!!! Counted that way December 2007 has been my bloggiest month ever! :P
Hmmm… Maybe I did fail in my resolution. When you look at all my blogs there were 1,314 posts over all in 2007. Just checked 2006 where 1064 posts still exist in the various blogs; there have been at least 100 deletions or rearrangements, so it is closer than may appear… Not really a case of "writing less" though, is it?
I will let you be the judge on #2, and #3 I have generally adhered to, while #4 was easy! Guess I will just carry on…
— 31 December 2007
Blogged with Flock
Yes, believe it or not, I have been blogging for the whole decade! This is the ninth of a series.
A multicultural Surry Hills morning
December 26, 2006
It’s Boxing Day here in Surry Hills. "Boxing Day is a holiday of peculiarly British origin, but in most years it falls on the same day as the Feast of St. Stephen (St. Stephen’s Day – 26th December)." Well, it always is the day after Christmas, even if the actual public holiday might move a little. For example, if the 26th falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then a long weekend would happen. What Boxing Day means to most Australians is the fourth Test Match in Melbourne and the start of the epic Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race. So I slept in this morning, in this flat where I would not be if it were not for my Shanghainese friend M. I go down to the Indian newsagent and buy the Sydney Morning Herald, then go to the coffee shop on the corner of Belvoir Street and Elizabeth where the Vietnamese owner and the very gay Tamil sidekick ask me if I want the usual. The Lebanese man is already at his table reading his paper. Two other customers of indeterminate Eastern European origin join us. An American says in response to the Vietnamese owner’s "How are you this morning?" "I’m well, by the grace of God." He and his Anglo-Aussie friend avoid the smokers. I buy cigarettes from the Shanghainese on the corner of Goodlet and Elizabeth.
I open the Herald and take in one of those good news stories one should focus on at this time of year: Gift of faith: a day off at Christmas.
IN THE kitchen a row of six women wearing hijabs dice vegetables and slice fruit. Nearby another group of young Muslim women are tearing open packets of pasta by the dozen and throwing them into a huge pot of boiling water. Across the room, two young men wearing skullcaps are stirring a sizeable pan of beef curry. Aiming to give their Christian counterparts from the charity Just Enough Faith the day off, the dedicated Muslim volunteers spent most of Christmas Day preparing and distributing homecooked meals to more than 500 homeless men and women at Cook and Phillip Park. The volunteers come from Al-Ghazzali Centre for Islamic Sciences and Human Development, in Roselands, and see their role as building bridges between the faiths. Christmas has no significance in the Islamic religious calendar. The founder of the centre, Imam Afroz Ali, said the initiative, called the Crescent Program, was unusual because it involved an Islamic organisation doing charity work for non-Muslims. "This service is directly for our Australian brothers and sisters," Mr Ali said. "What has made this successful is that the younger generation, particularly Muslims who were born here, have been dying to do something like this. "Their parents, the older generation, still have connections back to their places of birth overseas, so a lot of charity goes back there, and there is no hiding from that. But Islam requires us to provide charitable services in our own neighbourhood first. So we have to do this as Muslims, right here in Australia, regardless of gender, race or religion."
I think of Jelaluddin Rumi:
The garden of Love is green without limit and yields many fruits other than sorrow and joy. Love is beyond either condition: without spring, without autumn, it is always fresh.
On Christmas morning Sydney’s Hyde Park Barracks will host a unique event: a Mass and an entertainment spectacular beamed live to Ireland celebrating the history of the Irish in Australia. In the early 1800s more than 25,000 Irish convicts were detained in the Barracks. In the 1840s 4000 young female orphans escaping the "Great Potato Famine" were housed there. An Aussie Irish Christmas is a one-hour special that will screen on ABC TV Christmas evening, December 25 at 7.30pm. The event will be hosted by Mike Bailey – ABC TV NSW weather presenter and Irish descendant. RTE – the national broadcaster of Ireland – will broadcast the event live to Ireland from Sydney. Poignant stories of the hardships and triumphs experienced by these early Irish arrivals will be woven into selected highlights of the event to evoke a living, entertaining history of the Irish in Australia. A moving memorial to the orphan girls at the Barracks will also feature in the program and high profile participants include Irish President Mary McAleese, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Ms Clover Moore MP and Cardinal George Pell…
And Lebanese-Australian NSW Governor Marie Bashir.
She was born in Narrandera in the Riverina district of New South Wales, and attended Narrandera Public School and Sydney Girls High School. She completed the degrees of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in 1956 at the University of Sydney. Bashir later taught at the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales, and increased her work with children’s services, psychiatry and mental health services, and indigenous health programs. When she became Governor of New South Wales, she was Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Sydney (which she became in 1993); Area Director of Mental Health Services Central Sydney (from 1994); and Senior Consultant to the Aboriginal Medical Service, Redfern (from 1996) and to the Aboriginal Medical Service, Kempsey… Bashir is the first female Governor of New South Wales and the first governor of any Australian state of Lebanese descent. In 2006 the Queen appointed Professor Bashir a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.
My own Great-great-great-grandfather Jacob came from Ireland involuntarily in 1822 and for a time resided in those same Hyde Park Barracks. This is my Boxing Day Australia. I am rather proud of it. Let’s not let politics, undue concern for or against so-called "political correctness", fear of terrorism, or any other distraction, spoil this Australia. Rejoice in it and embrace it. Looking at the faces in the choir at that Aussie Irish Christmas was instructive in itself. Back to Rumi:
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.