Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Horrible CNN article

Admittedly, it's been a little while since I've posted or read any blogs. I'm working hard on a couple different projects and still trying to figure things out, still trying to make a practical effort out of the saying "You can have anything you want in life, you just can't have everything."

Well, the problem with that is I do want a lot. Now, I'm not talking materialistic items. Sure, a new car would be nice, but I mean doing stuff. I want to play soccer. I want to coach water polo. I want to attend my writing group. I want to play water polo. I want to... The list goes on.

The problem is there is not nearly enough time to do it all. I have to pick and choose. I've already decided that playing water polo (the most recent activity I had picked up...) is not going to be an option for me. I'd love to continue playing, but it just isn't going to happen.

Likewise, I'm trying to balance my writing time and blogging has been pushed to the side a little bit. The difference, though, is that I'm not going to jetison my blogs. Instead, I'm going to look at my time management and figure it out so I can be more productive...

ANYHOW, this isn't even why I'm posting right now. I just read one of the worst articles on CNN.com. The article itself doesn't start out as horrible, but it turns into something that is simply putrid journalism (and I use that word loosely in this case). The"article" wouldn't be terrible as someone's personal blog post (I mean, I've blogged about such frivolous things as "how sliced bread is still the measure of greatness in inventions"...). But it's on a "reputable" news site. My question is: how???

I want an apology from CNN for even publishing such crap.

The link is found here. Check it out and let me know if I'm crazy for expecting more from a legitimate news source like CNN.

NOTE: I rushed through this one and my spell check feature isn't working. I have to get to some other things real quick, so I'm not going to edit it. I apologize for that and will try harder next time!! Or your money back...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Blogging, etc.

I just left this comment over at the Steph in the City blog (link found here), but thought I'd post it at Ducks, too, since it's completely relevant to recent thoughts (also so I can spell check it and see if I left any embarrassing errors over there...):

"Once upon a time, I started blogging in the errant thought that I might be able to make some money doing it. I didn't know any better. All I knew is that my ultimate goal is to make enough money from writing in any context I can to get away from the day job. So I can't fault anyone else for trying to do the same (make money blogging).

What I've come to realize, though, is that it's not working like that for me. But that's fine. I love writing and will continue to do so. If anyone reads my blogs, that's great. I'll keep reading other blogs myself, and comment if I have something to say. But I'm not going to leave comments in a misguided attempt to draw followers or anything like that. Once upon a time, perhaps, but not now.

I'm just going to write and let nature take its course.

I wish the best of luck (especially today -> St. Pat's Day!), though, to all the "mommy blogs" (a genre of which I can never be a part) out there. "

I guess my comments also echo, in a roundabout way, the topic du jour over at Speaking from the Crib.

SFTC talks about the time constraints entailed with reading and commenting on so many different blogs. It's very apropos with the issue at hand over at Steph's blog. See, all those "mommy bloggers" who are trying to build their respective blogging brands have to cultivate their own respective follower tribes. The way to do so is to read, comment, and participate with other blogs. That might not sound like a lot, but it is actually a rather time consuming process.

Admittedly, I've spent too much time (and I posted on this recently) worrying about how many page views I have and who is reading and how could I get more followers. It really detracted me from my basic goal: to write.

So I'm done fretting about such matters and this will increase the frequency of my posting. I've got a feeling that it will make me more productive and, hopefully, that can only be a good thing!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, gentle readers!! Don't forget to drink some green beer today! (But not right now if you are at your place of employment... unless your place of employment is cool with that... if so, let me know if they are hiring...)

p.s. With it being a holiday and all, there might be a special second post later (if I have time). I still need to wrap up some thoughts from my previous post and they do tie in nicely with this one...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ducks on Twitter!

I've recently spotlighted a couple of blogs here who have provided excellent tips and links on how to use Twitter, so it's time for me to chime in on the conversation...

For those who don't know, you can find me tweeting at jm_neeb. But I'm not mentioning this in some sort of misguided attempt to draw new followers. Back in the day (uh, a couple months ago...), I might have. I thought it was important to try and follow as many people as I could to have people follow me back. My goal was to try and net as many followers as possible. I figured - before recent revelations - it was a good vehicle to draw readers to my blog and articles.

Well, I was wrong. (Who says that men are incapable of saying such things???)

As is the case with many things in life, quality trumps quantity and really deserves to be the focus. I truly regret the fact that I am following 1400-whatever people and have almost 500 following me. Let me quick point out that a ratio of almost 3/1 is absurd. What kind of dialogue can be achieved with such disparity? Now, I've rationalized it by saying "I enjoy 'listening' and keeping up with what is going on," but the fact is that it's insanely difficult to try and keep up when you have a very large feed of tweets. Utilizing tweet decks is probably one way to rectify the situation, but I want to move in a different direction, anyhow.

My new goal is to pare down my lists as much as possible and foster healthy relationships with fellow writers. Some bloggers I'm following on Twitter - and will continue to follow! - include: Elana, Karen, Tianna, and Tara. Anyone I add via Blogger will stay. I consistently read their posts, make comments (when I have comments to make), and sometimes they read and comment here, too. This is a dynamic I hope to have with fellow writers. Additionally, if I know someone in real life (Luke, MI PhotoBooth), I'll continue to follow them, as well. Essentially, I'm hoping for a more personal experience.

Okay, I don't have any kind of relationship to him, nor will there likely be any two-way interaction, but I'll continue to follow Conan O'Brien. He's too funny not to...

One more is the author Colson Whitehead. He's the reason I joined Twitter in the first place. I was very interested in reading his tweets, since I'm a big fan of his writing. I doubt Mr. Whitehead will follow me in return, but c'est la vie.

I don't want to be one of those people, and I've certainly been guilty of this, who is just trying to do a self-promotional "monologue" of sorts. As such, I'm not going to. Nor am I just going to sit back, read, and be a non-contributor. I have thoughts on various topics and issues and am able to provide perspective and help to others. I enjoy doing that kind of stuff. I enjoy it a lot more than trying to herd people. That being said, I'm probably going to tweet a link to this post. I'm interested in seeing how much, if any, traffic it derives.

Truth be told, even if tweeting sends a million people over here, it's not going to change anything for me. This is my not-so-new-year resolution and I'm sticking to it.

Last night I started going through my "following" list and un-followed a hundred or so tweeples. Now, I don't mean any ill will towards them. Heck, most of them probably have no clue as to who I am right now. I'm fine with that. So fine with it, in fact, that I will continue to whittle down that amount. Those who are left will be what I consider "quality" tweeple. Peeps whose thoughts and tweets I will care about and, hopefully, vice versa.

Now, I can't really control how many people choose to follow me, so I'm not as concerned with that. My ultimate goal, though, is to follow 150 people or less. So I need to un-follow at least 90% of those I already am.

Why 150? Well, you'll have to come back because I have even more thoughts...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ducks approval!

No long rambling in this post... I promise!! (or your money back)

I'd imagine I'm a typically blogger in the sense that I check out my followers' pages and then will check out some of their followers' pages. I might follow those bloggers, if I like what I read. Also, it often leads me to other blogs, in turn, and the cycle continues. Anyhow, my reason for mentioning this is that I stumbled across something I wanted to share with you guys.

Yesterday I had included a link to The Write Words regarding how writers ought to use Twitter. Well, today I found another useful "Twitter use" post. Tiana Lei's blog (Spilled Ink) is the source of some wonderful information. Please feel free to check it out here.

After doing some thorough research, Tiana's blog has been issued the prestigious Ducks Out Of A Row Approved stamp! I'd recommend following her, but won't feel offended if you politely disagree and choose not to...

Speaking of the highly-coveted Ducks approval stamp, all of my followers (to date) with blogs are granted the same stamp. I follow each of their blogs and have recently started thinking about putting together a series wherein I "spotlight" them individually.

That will also give me the opportunity to give a shout out to bloggers who I follow, but they don't necessarily follow me (Steph in the City is one that comes to mind, even though Steph has made an appearance here at The Ducks before...). Some of them have a ton of followers and probably can't follow everyone back based on the sheer volume of blogs that would entail keeping up with...

Anyhow, be sure to keep on the look-out for that spotlight series!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Real quick update

I suppose I could have just edited my previous post, but I want to issue an apology to my British readers. (If you aren't British, move along. Nothing to see here...)

I evidently forgot about the fact that you use Pounds as your currency. I'm not sure how acceptable Euros are or not across the pond, but I really should have said "Pounds" in my previous post.

As we say here in the U.S., mea culpa (which I believe translates into "my bad" in the Queen's version of our common language...).

Anyhow, that just occurred to me and I didn't mean to offend. So I humbly offer my apologies. Cheers!

Ducks all over the place!!

Let the randomness commence...

Last time I posted, I was planning on an unplanned journey, but then it turned out I didn't veer to far from the same road. Today, however, all bets are off. Experience some firsthand randomness from one of the most random dudes on this earth.

I'm currently listening to the Jaydiohead experience. If you aren't in the know, it's Jay-Z songs (a capella) over Radiohead music. Two steadfast icons from completely different genres, but it works. If Jay-Z is peanuts, Radiohead is the grapes. Merged together, they become something greater than their already amazing, versatile individual selves. [
Official Jaydiohead site.] [Wikipedia Jaydiohead page.]

That disc got me thinking about how Radiohead should be due for a new album pretty soon. In Rainbows was brilliant and I can't wait to see how they follow it up. So I googled Radiohead to see what's up. Admittedly, being a Radiohead fan, I'm ashamed to say that I had never been to their website. I can't make that claim anymore and what I found over there is rather interesting. The guys from the band make periodic posts and they make for great reading.

NOTE: If you're an open-minded conservative, you'll probably realize it's just their opinions and stuff, but if you're a close-minded conservative it's probably best to skip this one. Either way, the link is found here.

I suppose I haven't addressed this yet, but I'm neither "liberal," nor "conservative." I have my own views on things and consider myself to be a true independent. But this is not a political forum for me and I don't ever intend it to be. There are decent people of all races, religions, political affiliations, etc. And there are not-so-decent people of all those factors, as well. I just try to live a good life and treat people how I would like to be treated. Do I do so perfectly? Nope, but that is what I aspire to...

There was an ad for caviar on my Gmail today. Now, I don't know how they figure who to target with specific Gmail ads, but they were really knocking on the wrong door with that one. Perhaps they should use their tracking methods and find someone who wrote "I just don't have the foggiest idea of what to do with all these millions of Euros I have sitting around." (I made him, or her, British, since I had used the word "foggiest" and who really says that in America? Well, besides this guy....)

To be honest, even if I had the dough to blow, I don't know where I'd go to find caviar. (Yes, all those clustered "oh" sounds were intentional... I'm a poet at heart.) I'm going to beg some patience of you while I try something real quick... If I had the loot to boot, shoot if I'd know where to scoot to find caviar. Eh, let's stick with the first set. Print it!

So I'm trying to figure out what to do with my Twitter account. I don't use it very often just yet, but am planning to change that. Let's just be honest for a second, I'm always "planning" stuff. Yeah, I tend to get a little caught up when it comes to "follow through," though. Without doing any fact-checking, I believe my very last post mentioned that I need to work on working on stuff. I'll get it together, though!

Anyway, Twitter... I make random posts every once in a while. Sometimes I try to be clever. Sometimes it's deep and profound (like the time I tweeted about how tripped out I was over the fact there is a Grey's Anatomy Wii game...). And sometimes I use it to pimp my blog. I follow a lot of people, mostly because I'm interested in listening/reading what's going on out there. I am, if nothing else, a man of the streets! I'm currently thinking about starting fresh and going the Conan O'Brien route (you know, having over half a million people follow me and only following one person myself...).

Moment of truth: I am not planning on going Conan O'Brien on all my Tweeples like that.

Well, I wasn't sure what to do, but then Lindsey at
The Write Words posted her Tuesday Tips and the first link is going to help me immensely. So I need to give a shout out to her blog. As of this posting, she's not a follower here, but if anyone else checks in with her, you can let Lindsey know that she got a "shout out" from a man of the streets (serious street cred right there... so gangsta). You can find the post here. Check it out and learn some new tips!

That's all I got for today, gentle readers. Until next time, be excellent to each other!

Friday, March 5, 2010

"Let's Face it Friday"

I'm doing a blog link through A Peek at Karen's World and today is "Let's Face it Friday," so it's time to do some facing.

If I was truly clever, I'd get a camera and take some pictures of funny faces and post that!! Unfortunately for you, the reader, I'm not nearly so clever...

Note: I should probably save this, but I was going to make a post that read "I'm actually quite creative and imaginative and... Well, that's all I can think of to say." Ha! (If I can't amuse others, at least I can amuse myself.)

I need to face the fact that I probably spend too much time reading blogs, checking to see if blogs are updated, and checking to see if my blogs are being read. I really need to spend more time writing than doing all of these things.

I do have to admit, however, that I'm learning a tremendous amount from others by doing all the reading. So I am learning, which is a good thing, but I need to focus a little more on the doing. Admittedly, follow-through is not my greatest suit. I need to work on that. (Which is to say "I need to work on working on stuff"... huh.)

That is what I'm facing today. I'd probably face a little more, but I already committed myself to a lengthy post earlier on (see below).

MckLinky Blog Hop

Road tripping Ducks...

Admittedly, this might be one of my more random postings to date...

Usually I try to find a central theme to tie everything together, but today might veer from that particular mode. Note: "Usually" is an interesting choice of terminology to use, since I've only had this particular blog for about a month. I don't know how "usual" anything can be until a lengthier data set is produced. So I guess I mean to say that today may not wind up as tied together as my previous posts have been. (Stupid semantics.)

A lot of bloggers in the writing community display whichever book they are currently reading off to the side of their blogs. I almost feel as though the side of my blog is too busy as it stands, so I'm not going to go that route. What I will do, however, is take a moment and let you all know what I'm reading. (Who says men can't compromise!)

Last weekend I went to the library with my wife and picked up, amongst other things, a copy of Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point: How little things can make a big difference." I'm almost done with it and have to say that it has been an incredible read.

Now, I'd been meaning to check out some of Gladwell's work for a while, but it was simply out of my mind. Well, last week was the birthday of my best friend (of the non-wife variety...) and I picked him up a copy of "Blink" as a gift, because I thought he would be interested in reading Gladwell. Sure enough, he told me that he had actually thinking about buying the book himself.

Anyhow, that reminded me to pick up Tipping Point. It's a fairly quick read and amazingly insightful into human nature and how some ideas and trends really explode in popularity. I've never taken any collegiate marketing courses, but it should be a must read for students in that particular discipline. Additionally, anyone with an interest in psychology, sociology, criminology, or just humanity in general should read it, too. It is a fascinating work. Obviously, I strongly recommend it.

Speaking of incredible works, this upcoming Tuesday (3/9) a new album is going to be released and I'm especially looking forward to it. The "group" is called Broken Bells and it is actually collaboration between Danger Mouse and The Shins' front man, James Mercer. I'm a fan of The Shins and really enjoy a lot of the work Danger Mouse has produced to date, so I was excited to hear about the project in the first place. (Thanks go out to Eric for telling me about it all...)

There are two tracks which stream on the Broken Bells website and both are outstanding. Link found

Also coming out in the near future is a new Gorillaz album (Danger Mouse actually was a producer for their "Demon Days," which was simply a remarkable disc...). Upon hearing that news, I was initially elated. But then I stumbled across a preview of the album and my excitement certainly waned. I might give that one a chance, but the jury is still out and leaning against it. Link to preview is found
here, so feel free to make up your own mind about it. Broken Bells will be a certain iTunes download the moment it becomes available, though.

Well, maybe this wasn't as absolutely random as I had initially feared. Of course, I intentionally started this off without really knowing where I was going. Every once in a while it's nice to hop in a car, head out with no map and no particular destination, and just see where the road takes you...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Life Rewritten blog contest

The other day I had posted about a blog contest at One Significant Moment at a Time. Well, today I'd like to share about another one for a blog I enjoy following. Noelle Nolan is having a "150 follower" contest over at A Life Rewritten. Once her follower count hits 150, she will hold a drawing for an Amazon gift card. You can find the details of Noelle's contest here.

As I had mentioned, I like reading the posts at A Life Rewritten and would not endorse a blog I don't follow myself. Noelle is a professional writer and published author. She is currently (as of this posting...) in the process of updating her blog, which reminds me... If anyone who reads this knows anything about XML scripting, she could use a hand.

At some point later today, I'd like to do another post. I've got some ideas and thoughts, but just wanted to get this announcement out there before I became distracted and forgot (as I'm prone to do...).

More ducks to come...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tired little ducks

I was going to write a new post tonight, but now I am absolutely exhausted and afraid I will not be able to give it everything I got... Before I realized that I wouldn't be posting tonight, though, I thought about writing on how it can be a good thing to commit yourself to a particular endeavor -- "Tonight I'm going to take out the trash." or "On the fifth I will cook a lavish dinner" or "Tomorrow I'm going to shave the dog and cat so they stop shedding all over the place and creating a need to constantly vacuum and use those roller-things on our clothes, the ones where a single sheet is already full of hair by the time you've barely touched your clothes." (hypothetically speaking, of course...)

But writing is a bit different from those other tasks. There is a sense of creativity and entertainment that should be conveyed. Sometimes it's difficult to just conjure those elements out of thin air. And sometimes it's difficult to conjure rabbits from hats, but sometimes it isn't all that difficult and you totally freak yourself out... or maybe that's just me.

Writing takes a certain degree of mental prowess. Actually, it takes a large degree, since the physical aspect to the craft really isn't all that consuming. I mean, I was thinking about starting my own workout program based on writing (hey, if they have workout programs for karate and dancing and even stripping, why not writing?), but then I realized I would require my clients to type non-stop, around the clock just to lose a fraction of an ounce (oh, that's "why not writing"...).

Anyhow, I'm trying to say that this stuff isn't always easy. Sure, it's not physically taxing, but trying to be creative when the only thing you want to do is drift off into a dream world where you're driving through the hallways of high school in a bright red 1989 Lamborghini while all the students are standing in awe and you're just trying to get to the cafeteria in time to grab a slice a pizza, but you can't remember the combination to your locker and...

Eh, it's clearly time for bed.

Sorry for the non-post!!

Oh, before I go I need to give a quick shout out to a contest one of my fellow blogger is currently running. Nicole at One Significant Moment at a Time is having a contest for almost reaching 100 followers (she's at 99 and needs just one more...). On March 15th, she will draw a winner from the eligible entrants (see her blog for details) and that person will receive a signed copy of an anthology in which she was published and a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card. So stop by her blog (click the link in previous set of parentheses...) and be sure to enter the contest!!