Happy Tenth Anniversary
Tuesday April 03rd 2012, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Blogging

I almost forgot that today is my blog’s tenth anniversary. So much for a triumphant, nostalgic post. With 27 minutes left to today, it won’t happen. But I will give a word of advice to new bloggers: please don’t say I wrote a blog today. Say: I wrote a blog post today. As you can see from my example, a blog is never really complete. It just goes on and on, even if you have nothing important to say. Blogs don’t get built in a day you know.

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Tokyo Residents on the Earthquake and Aftermath
Monday March 14th 2011, 5:08 pm
Filed under: Blogging,Japan,News

It’s been a while since I read blogs, having had little free time in the last few years. Yet, with the Japan situation, this is when blogs really demonstrate their worth. I wanted something more substantial that Twitter feeds (which are far too repetitive anyhow) and more personal than what we’re getting from journalists who fly in with no knowledge of Japan, snap a couple photos, then board a plane for home. Look at all the amazed editorials about the Japanese not looting – obviously have no clue about Japanese behaviour. The blogs to which I subscribe are almost all by North American white people living in Japan (and specifically in Tokyo): this is when I regret not having been a better language student while in Japan.*

Here’s what the Tokyo residents have to say:

Amy Nakazawa of Blue Lotus reports how responsible stores like her 100 yen shop use only a third of their lights. There is a rumour that pachinko parlours are still guzzling all that electricity. Amy also explains the ubiquitous face masks as seen in all the photos – I thought it was because of fear of airborne pathogens from the dead or the smells or the usual East Asian common-cold/allergy prevention strategy – it’s because “earthquakes can kick up a lot of dust, and power outages can create quite a stink.” Also check out her shopping cart contents: iodine-rich seaweed protects against radiation sickness.

Kristen at Media Tinker wrote about conserving electricity yesterday (my favourite is unplugging the heated toilets; Japan is more civilized than we are but my years back in Canada have made me accustomed to cold toilets); inventoried what’s missing on Tokyo supermarket shelves; and wrote a weirdly humourous post about how she and her spouse got through the earthquake.

Mari Kanazawa of the Watashi to Tokyo blog wrote about some of the nice things businesses were doing to help stranded Tokyo commuters: vending machine companies made their drinks 0 yen, restaurants let people use their toilets and even gave away free onigiri and some electronic stores helped people charge their cell phones.

*For the record, I was exhausted. I’d just finished eight years of intense Chinese study. My brain needed a break and I moved to Japan right after Taiwan.

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Cat Ladders
Monday April 13th 2009, 1:56 pm
Filed under: Blogging

When they said to make your blog specific to one topic, who knew there would be a niche for everything? Here’s a blog about cat ladders. Seems as if Central European and Scandinavian cat owners are the biggest proponents of the cat ladder movement.

Have a look at them. Some of them are really well-made. The indoor ones give the cats an impressive play area.

Apparently, Matt’s photo of an Alba Iulia cat ladder got in there. I wish they had asked for permission before taking the photo, though. Matt would’ve said “yes.” Plus, I would have told them to credit the photo correctly. They took the photo from my blog and assumed that it was mine.

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Thursday April 02nd 2009, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Blogging

Huh. This is as close as I have ever gotten to remembering this blog’s anniversary. In 23 minutes, it will be seven years old.

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The Point of Blogging
Monday September 01st 2008, 10:45 am
Filed under: Blogging

Has anyone else noticed that lately, the internet has been getting lonely?

So many good bloggers are deserting the place. The ones that are left behind are running out of things to say. Or, they are just commenting on the latest gadgets and blogging conferences and metablogging conferences and conferences to plan metablogging conferences.

Blogging has become a way to sell ad space, to impress people, or, I dread this the most, to brand oneself. Yeah. I’m unique. Like everyone else.

Little. Yellow. Different. published a conversation on the origins of the demise of blogging:

1. There are too many of us now. In a pool of 20 million, a blogger’s voice is diluted. Not like the good old days when there were a mere 2000.

2. If a blogger does have an audience, he or she needs to keep them happy. Flagrant airing of opinions might alienate them and reduce readership.

3. It’s the age of mega-blogs. Personal blogs will just have to wait for a meteor to crash to the earth, fill the atmosphere with clouds of dust, bring down the climate, and kill off the dinosaurs so that small furry creatures can evolve in peace.

4. Personal blogs are brands.

Little. Yellow. Different. goes on say that he no longer wants his personal experiences archived online. Plus, there’s the whole thing about living in the moment.

My friend MaikoPunk gave up blogging recently for other reasons, namely that blogging is getting in the way of more serious writing – writing that pays the bills and gets more credibility.

A few years ago, Neil Gaiman I believe it was, quit blogging because blogging got in the way of his more serious writing. He suddenly reappeared one day, saying something like, well, there is something I get out of blogging. Maybe he still blogs, maybe he doesn’t again. He’s quite accessible as a writer, whereas so many decent bloggers who quit…are just gone.

Though my RSS feed has over 200 blogs, I only regularly read five of them. About once or twice a year, I remember that I have a burning interest in abandoned rusting tea kettles. Yet, these specialist blogs are taking over: my collection of personal blogs, which I read because I like the people and want to see what’s happening in their lives, shrinks every month.

I do maintain a dead bloggers folder on my RSS feed. All the dead blogs go there. One day, when one of them stirs, I will be ready to read their blogs.

As for myself, I have bored or alienated all but a few loyal friends. My stats are depressing: during the last month, I had 2000 visitors, in August 2007, I have 12,000 visitors. In addition, there are many personal things I cannot or will not write on my blog.

I’ve thought about coming up with a schtick, a niche where I can dole out my expertise and gain some measure of internet popularity.

What’s the point? I have a dozen hobbies, I read widely, I go through phases of learning about xyz then switch to abc. Five million blogs already do photos better than I ever can or aspire. I’ll leave real illustrators to show off their art and real connoisseurs to document every meal. I am not even sure if I will stick with my museum career any more, so I cannot specialize professionally either. Nor do I have a hamster in the household anymore, so my slim claim to internet fame is gone there too.

About two years ago, when I first realized I’ll never be anyone in this internet pond, my first reaction was to delete my blog and purge all mentions of Maktaaq from the internet. I still believe that I am not at all relevant to anyone. In fact, in real life, I have almost no friends and my life is just the mere cycle of sleep, eat, work. There is no point at all in me writing. I have nothing original to say nor can I even write my thoughts in a fresh way.

Only about every five posts or so do I get comments. The commenters are always the same five people.

I keep writing to practice writing. I also keep writing because, even though only five people comment, at least someone is reading. If these five feel compelled enough to give me any feedback, I am that much less alone in the world.

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Favourite Recent Animal Freak @ Raul’s
Friday July 25th 2008, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Blogging

Guess what? I got my first guest blogging gig! I’m headed for the big time in bloggerdom now! Yeah, after six years I am finally getting some recognition.

To help out my friend Raul who is doing this crazy Blogathon-blogging-every-half-hour-for-24-hours thing for charity, I wrote a post. It’s slotted at 4 am. Contains some hogwash about a freak animal. You can read it and Raul’s other posts on his blog, Hummingbird 604. His chosen charity is the BC Cancer Agency.

Two other friends are blogging for charity over the next 24 hours: Miss 604 and Isabella Mori.

Have a good night!

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Outta Here
Tuesday April 15th 2008, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Blogging

I’ve started to notice a trend.  When I don’t blog, this site gets lots of visitors.  Yet, as soon as I put up a post, all visits drop.  It’s like people come here, see a post, and think, Oh, shit, she’s blogged.  Then they get the heck out of Dodge.

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Romanian Traditional Wear
Tuesday April 15th 2008, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Blogging,Romania

I recently discovered the Urban Style blog, full of photos of what cool young things from BucureÈ™ti are wearing. Not as much colour as I would wear, despite a few winter coats and tights on the brighter side of the palette, yet, I grew up knowing that Romanians have fashion sense (even the men – I don’t care what you say, MaikoPunk). Canadians in your ugly fleece, goretex and soccer mom Lululemon ensembles, look over this blog, then burn your wardrobe.

Fashionable as they are, however, young Romanians just wear western clothes. Someone could drop off a dozen Romanian teenagers in any North American neighbourhood and, aside from the better combinations and colour choices, you’d think they were just regular Anglo-Saxon kids.

Yet amid all the fashion that could be anywhere, there’s this super original dude:

Let’s see: he’s got his traistă (Romanian woollen bag), his black căciulă on his head, a vest, and his traditional straight shirt (with what looks like a belt).

Dressed in the most Romanian of Romanian peasant wear, all that’s missing are the opinci.

From the footwear page on the Eliznik Balkan Folklore site:

Opinci are made of a single rectangle of cow, ox or pig hide gathered round the foot in various ways. Two main types are found in Romania but with numerous zonal variations…..Opinci were tied to the feet using one or more nojită (narrow strips of leather or strings made of goats or horsetail hair which is usually died black although white is used in Moldavia)…..Many 18th and 19th century pictures show Romanian peasants wearing opinci, though by the 20th century this form of footwear had become less common. F B Florescu, in her book on Romanian opinci said that this form of footwear had completely disappeared by 1957 (Florecu 1957).

As the next photo attests, we can exhibit our Romanian-ness by wearing our opinci:

Raman Roman in Europa

The poster reads “Remain Romanian in Europe [i.e. the European Union].” It’s a political poster for the Partidul NaÈ›ional Țărănesc CreÈ™tin Democrat (the PNÈšCD, or the National Peasant Party-Christian Democrat). The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada’s Romania Country Fact Sheet has this to say about the party:

The PNÈšCD is a successor to the National Peasant Party which was founded in 1869. It was banned under the Communist regime in 1947, but remerged in 1989, at which time it refused to work with the National Salvation Front (FSN) due to the FSN’s high concentration of former communists. The PNÈšCD has undergone numerous splits and mergers. Following poor results in the 2004 election, the PNÈšCD merged with the Union for Romanian Revival (Uniunea pentru RenaÈ™terea României, URR) and formed the Christian Democrat People’s Party (Partidul Popular CreÈ™tin Democrat, PPCD) which promotes a centrist platform. The party’s leader is Marian Petre MiluÈ›.

But back to the Urban Style dude: he is one cool kid. More Romanian young people should emulate his example and stop being so ashamed of being Romanian. If someone sees this dude on some București street, give him a pat on the back from me.

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Thursday January 03rd 2008, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Blogging

Alas, I missed the big hullaboo over my five-year anniversary as a blogger and now I am closer to my six-year anniversary. I’ve had the maktaaq.com domain name for two years now; this new site still needs a lot of work:

  • I need to figure out why the new RSS feed truncates my posts.
  • I find the new title hideous but Matt likes it.  (At least one reader likes it.)
  • My illustration for the header is in Canada while I am in Romania.
  • I don’t have an about page.
  • I haven’t updated the categories for the old, pre-category posts, except 2002.
  • I haven’t gone through my links to weed out the dead ones (and try to find cached copies of cartoons you shouldn’t miss).
  • I haven’t moved that sitemeter thingie over.
  • I haven’t answered the comments yet.
  • I lost about 200 posts in the move and I have to figure out how to get them here. This blog is first and foremost my journal. I enjoy going back and laughing at myself.

But Matt told me not to be a perfectionist and tell everyone already.

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Top 25 Blogging Peeves
Thursday October 18th 2007, 5:27 pm
Filed under: Blogging

1. Long paragraphs.

2. No spaces between paragraphs: it’s different when paragraphs have only a single space between them in books or newspapers, on a computer screen, it’s as bad as long paragraphs.

3. Blogger commenting: why should everyone have a Blogger profile? I want to go directly to their blog!

4. Truncated feeds: I don’t always have time to go to a blog to check the full version. It gets especially bad when I have to play catch-up with a million posts – I usually never bother reading everything.

5. Long posts: I am guilty of this.

6. Posting more than once a day: though I read a few local and specialized blogs every day, I hardly can keep up with others and I end up skimming for something that interests me. When it’s a personal blog, I’d rather be reading everything and really getting a feeling for the author’s life. Actually, I really love my once-a-weekers – I can even forgive them if they write long posts.

7. More after the jump: no! I usually read over my morning cereal. I can’t put down my spoon, click, then pick up spoon. I ain’t no multitasker, stop asking me to work so much.

8. Links without comments: I want to know why you want me to go there.

9. More than two columns: I can’t concentrate. I am also additionally fussy in that I prefer my sidebars on the right, but that’s just going into crazy territory, I know.

10. Posts without titles: someone told me my posts should all have titles. It’s made me think about what exactly I write about and makes me keep to one topic. If I have more than one idea, I can make two blog posts.

11. Good blogs that disappear: I still lament the passing of Baboon Ass. With so many inane dead blogs that cling to the internet like pond scum, at least the good ones could remain un-deleted, like rafts of hazelnut wafers among the pond scum.

12. Tiny (or huge) writing.

13. Exciting blogs that peter out after five posts: local museum blogs are pretty bad about this. I get excited that I’ll be learning about the history of, say, Coalmont, BC, then nothing!

14. Exciting blogs that spiral out of control because they don’t understand blogging: again, in my profession, organizations make blogs that sound more like marketing tools, with rehashed press releases. I can read those elsewhere; I prefer to go behind the scenes, meet the people and find out about the job.

15. No email: so what happens if I am too shy to write a comment to you?

16. Bloggers who don’t answer their comments: sometimes someone has five comments, some of them questions…which seem to hover there, all lonely, for all eternity. I really appreciate reading someone who responds, even to thank their commenters. Hey, we’re bloggers, not rock stars.

17. Unfeedable comments: sometimes I want to read the comments but I don’t want to have to keep returning to the blog to see the updates. I love getting them in Bloglines. Of course, almost all blogs are guilty of this infraction, but with Haloscan and the Metroblogging Vancouver site, you can get your blog posts and comments too.

18. Comments that turn off after a while: what if I want to comment on your long-ago post on 19th Century gorilla-shaped tschochkes? Huh? What, after November 23, 2004, everything that can be said about gorilla tschochkes has been said? What if ground-breaking research has unearthed new gorilla tschochke revelations?

19. Image-stealing: I don’t care that much about Mickey Mouse, but when it’s just some kid down the street, please ask her before you use her photo, even if the Creative Commons license says “Exploit me.”

20. Serif fonts: these belong on the printed page, not the computer screen.

21. Marketing requests made of bloggers: please don’t send me requests to blog about your movie…send me a copy first and I might change my mind. I like horror movies and all, by the way, but I draw the line at Hostel, Saw and their ilk. Seriously though, no one reads this blog except a few people who like naked mole rats. I am flattered that you would think I am popular.

22. Spam/Trolls: delete please.

23. Teen accessories: music, moving pictures, stars that follow your cursor around, abbreviations, etc. The “Next Blog” feature on Blogger is what usually brings you to these sites.

24. Status updates: Happens in blogging for beginners, aka Facebook. Usually appears as “Jimbo is Julie ate my corndog.” Or “Madeleine is Up at the crack of dawn.” I, and others like me, will judge you on your grammar and capitalization.

25. YouTube: I hate it when I have to click that play thing. Almost as bad as something that starts up as soon as you visit the page.

Yes, I am guilty of many of these. I promise to blog about what I do like next.


19. Image-stealing: When I wrote this, I was thinking of the Dallas girl who was made fun of in a Virgin Australia commercial. I don’t care if the images are free – surely no one just takes free samples at a supermarket without acknowledging the free sample food giver-outer? I think it’s just nice to make a human connection, to thank them for their image, and to let them know where it’ll go.

21. Marketing requests made of bloggers: I am not famous. I somehow got into a horror movie niche, over which I am thrilled, but these poor kids making films are trying the blog route of promotion. It kind of died down after Snakes on a Plane failed. Not saying I am not flattered, but I was taken aback.

I had no idea how to even rate these films, and some of them sounded gory, which I actually don’t like (unless it’s quick, like in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre – I hate scenes that linger on people screaming).

Recently I also got something to promote a local charitable event. But, while I want to be a good citizen, I have no idea how someone who bumbles about like I do, can even seriously write about this. I think those of you who read this blog aren’t here because I am saying anything worthwhile or new; you’re here because you’re my friends and want to humour me. The one or two of you who may not know me, I think I just haven’t rambled enough lately on about how much I hate Republicans or how I think vampire fiction sucks. I may do so and then you’ll stop reading. You think now that I am all about hamsters and Belgian comics.

24. Status updates: I like status updates, but I like them written properly. Sometimes they’re hard to read. This peeve should read “Grammatically weird status updates.”

25. YouTube: I just don’t like to be told “You gotta see this!” then have to sit through 6 minutes or even 2 minutes of waiting for what I gotta see. Most times it’s not worth it.

So, do any of you have pet peeves?

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