Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gratitude, Salt Water, Cormorants and Blogging

Dear Friends;

I was thinking about Gratitude this morning, and how I can train myself to be more grateful. I thought about posting something I am grateful for on some of my SNS sites, like FaceBook. (I am grateful for FaceBook.) The first thing I saw when I opened my computer (Yahoo Mail is my homepage), was an email notification that one of my FaceBook friends, Sue Bates, encouraged me to get on the Gratitude Page on FaceBook. So I did, and wrote a little piece about gratitude and the Ocean.

It’s cloudy and 57 in Pacific Grove, and may rain later; I see by my Mac Dashboard that it’s 77 and stormy in Northampton (at 12:21 EST). It was foggy and cloudy all day yesterday. While standing at the bus terminal in the midst of Edgewater Plaza, a huge shopping center next to the dunes of Seaside, I could see the sun behind the fog, and it was really beautiful. So, of course, I took a photo of it. I was on my way back to Monterey from Borders, where I had a wonderful time looking at SNS books and drinking my blended chocolate chip coffee drink. I had been searching for months for a Barnes & Noble, so that I could browse and find books on SNS that I could not find elsewhere, including the libraries. I haven’t checked the college libraries. Anyway, I did manage to find several interesting books on WordPress, twitter, and blogging. I sat down next to a distractingly beautiful woman, sipped my icy drink, and skimmed through the books, winnowing down which I would buy (and return). I noticed the guy next to me was reading a book on CSS, so we had a great convo about web design, blogging, sns, and all kinds of groovy things. I gave him my (free card, and he said he would be happy to answer any questions I had. Really nice connection.

I have been thinking a great deal about SNS lately (no kidding!), and feel a bit like proselytizing (if you hate SNS – read this paragraph anyway!). I used to think that SNS sites were for losers, people who couldn’t find ‘real’ friends, or people who were just unable to interact with the world, so they frittered away their time ‘friending’ people. Thanks to (award-winning blogger, and dear friend) Keith Carlson, I began blogging, and have become obsessed with file sharing sites. As I have mentioned, I am on many sites, including FaceBook, twitter, delicious, Flickr, StumbleUpon, WordPress, Blogger, MySpace,, Squidoo and others. My Blogger site ( is the most developed site, but I am now updating and expanding my WordPress site (, which is quite beautiful, I must say. Blogger is easier to get started in, but WordPress is more elegant and has more options. I found a template that changes color depending on the color of the photo (or text) of the post; I know this sounds corny, but it works aesthetically. Last week, I went to see Tetro, the amazing new Coppola film, with some new friends I found on

As I said, I used to think that SNS was for Losers and people with too much time on their hands. I now realize (cue swelling symphonic music and Jesus Rays) that sns (I like the little letters better) can be used in all kinds of amazing ways. For example, I find inspiration from reading, and connecting with people who also have a spiritual inclination (sometimes it is a little too NewAgey, but you can get past that). I can follow people I care about, and some interesting strangers on various sites. I have been thinking a great deal about how these sites can be used to promote environmental issues and political (is personal) causes (I’m sure you’re connected to Or just inspire people to find beauty around them. I won’t get into inspirational stories, but there are many. I have found amazing web sites I would otherwise never have stumbled upon without StumbleUpon.

Here are the three books I walked home with:
• twitter Tips, Tricks, and Tweets by Paul McFedries

• The Rough Guide to Blogging

• WordPress 2 (Visual Quickstart Guide) by Maria Langer & some other person

I am going to rec to library that they buy these books. Obviously, I am getting into this stuff in a serious way, which takes a lot of time and energy. I would encourage you to look at some of these books, just to see what potential sites like twitter have; it’s pretty amazing.

OK, so here’s my pitch: If you don’t have a blog, start a blog. It is unbelievably simple, and takes literally just a few minutes. Blogger is easier, but WordPress is more elegant. You can spend as little or as much time working on it as you want. (Ann – great place to make a family photo album that anyone can see.) If you aren’t on twitter, do so as soon as you finish reading my highly entertaining letter. And find a book on twitter so that you have some idea what the fuss is all about. And FaceBook – if you aren’t on it, get on it, and connect with friends there. It’s not only fun, but potentially very useful. And addictive. Like eating chocolate, you have to know when to stop. It’s a hell of a lot better than watching TV. You don’t have to be a writer to blog; just post photos you like. Here’s the deal: If you friend me, I will friend you. If you link to my site, I will link to your site. I have my Blogger site configured to send an email every time somebody comments on my blog. It’s pretty cool. OK, so I’ll shut up.

Today, my plan is to learn as much as I can about WordPress. I will try to get to the beach, hang out at CafĂ© La Strada, read the NYT, send messages to my sns friends (my Blogger blog now has 28 followers and counting). And get my job-hunting life organized. Friday, I sent some copy to the women’s surf safari place in Carmel (; I may do some writing for them). Yesterday, I spoke on the phone for 1.5 hours to Douglas Ogg (, artist-cum-cartoonist-cum-postmodern artist, who is hiring me to write an intro for his blog. Really interesting guy, and it was great to have a long conversation about art (he’s very smart and funny) and life. I’ve got some other irons in the fire, and will be looking into making supplemental money from blogs. Watch for them.

Well, I’m getting restless to get outside… by the way, yesterday I was sitting on a rock above the baby waves crashing around me, taking photos of the Brandt’s cormorants blanketing Point Sarah, and I espied a rather larger wave heading my way. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to cover my camera case as the wave hit the rock just below my feet. I was grateful to be soaked with seawater. I walked home, refreshed, salt water dripping from my glasses, and prepared to head into town.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch, Paul

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