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Just Jot It January: Day twenty…

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I’m beginning to think that Just Jot It January is some sort of jinx, what with all the public figures dropping dead left, right and centre.

Just in the last week or so we’ve lost David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Alan Rickman and Dale Griffin from Mott the Hoople, and now I wake up to the terrible news that Queen Elizabeth has passed away.

Apparently she was taken ill with a nasty case of hypothermia whilst snowboarding in the back garden at Balmoral yesterday and died later from complications resulting from overdoing the Jaegerbombs in an attempt to warm up.
Prince King Charles has asked that the royal family be allowed their privacy in this, his hour of celebration grief.

Ok, that’s not actually true.

But how many of you stopped reading in shock after the first paragraph and googled “Queen Elizabeth dead”?

I’m hoping very few of you, because I like to think my readers are somewhat brighter than that (plus, you probably noticed that this post was tagged “hoaxes”; a bit of a giveaway in itself) and you don’t just automatically believe something on the basis that “it’s on the internet, so it must be true”.

But not everyone online has your finely-tuned analytical faculties (or “bullshit detectors” as I prefer to think of them) and many people will indeed take anything they see as they cruise the information superhighway as the gospel truth.

Facebook appears to be one of the most densely packed credibility minefields for the gullible to pick their way through, with idiotic memes and nonsensical “facts” being posted almost every day by the less discerning web surfer.

I could understand if these cheeky attempts to con people into believing rubbish were in some way humorous or satirical, (it’s easy enough to manufacture reasonably convincing spoofs these days, with all the gadgets, apps and simple technology available to us at the touch of a button) here’s one that took me two minutes to make just now…

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…but so many of the allegedly plausible posts I see scrolling past, often posted by friends I know to be intelligent and articulate in any other situation, are so demonstrably bollocks that it amazes me they manage to get through anyone’s bullshit filter without setting off all the alarms on first reading.

For instance, here’s a perennial favourite, the inane response to a con that I’m sure you’ve seen on the Facebook newsfeed, one which seems to do the rounds on a regular basis;

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Now, I understand that unchecked optimism can lead to the odd lapse in judgement, but surely nobody realistically believes that Mr Zuckerberg got rich by randomly giving his money away to strangers, (especially when he has all those diapers and babysitters to pay for) so what makes anyone think it’s even worth reposting this stuff?

And then there are things like this next one, which I really can’t get my head round.

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Why somebody would fabricate this sort of pseudo-medical nonsense to start with is completely beyond me.
Apart from anything else, there is a very real risk of someone actually taking it seriously and, relying on the idea that, if you get chest pains the best thing to do is have a nice refreshing glass of water and go to bed, could very well result in you waking up dead.

Not all of these memes are dangerous of course.
How about the much-reproduced post that claims to be the “last words of Steve Jobs”..?

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…it isn’t exactly malicious, but I doubt his loved ones appreciate their deceased friend or family member’s image being hijacked, in order to service some personal agenda or bid for notoriety.

And yet thousands of people have unthinkingly shared it without even the slightest suspicion that, amongst other things;
a) as a confirmed atheist, Jobs was unlikely to be thinking of God at all, let alone giving him column inches in his epitaph,
b) he would have posted something that was written with such peculiar phrasing and grammar (particularly given Jobs’ well documented perfectionism), or
c) he had such a long and cheesy speech ready to quote at the last minute, even if he’d had the strength or inclination to self-eulogize to such an extent anyway.

Jobs isn’t the only victim of posthumous image fraud of course, there are many others whose pictures have been manipulated for fun or mischief, (like my Dr MLK meme at the start of this post) the best known of which is probably one of the variations on photos of Albert Einstein…

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…and, most recently, this photo of the late, great David Bowie and his old mate, Lemmy…

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…which is a nice piece of fan-generated wish fulfillment, but the original photo featured Lemmy and his French girlfriend.

So, how do you avoid the crushing disappointment/cringing embarrassment of posting something that is less realistic than The Donald’s hairline?
You use Snopes of course, either that or Hoax Slayer, that way you can post away to your heart’s content and not worry about being ridiculed by your online peers for a Facebook faux-pas.

I know a lot of you are thinking; “What a patronising bastard, we’re not stupid you know!”, but there is at least one person reading this who will be glad of a fact checker (you know who you are, hahaha) and I’m sure they’ll make good use of it in the future too.

#JusJoJan

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Just Jot It January: Day seven…

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You’ll be pleased to know that I don’t have time to waffle on too much for today’s Just Jot It January post, so I thought I’d try a little experiment instead.

I’m guessing (hoping) that bloggers are a more reasonable and, frankly, saner bunch than the average Facebook keyboard warrior and I’d be interested to know what people think of something I saw on the political trolls’ favourite virtual playground today.

I don’t usually post memes on the blog, purely because someone else created them and I like to post original content, but I’m going to break that habit today to see what type of feedback I get from my readers, especially those of you in America.

I’ve already reposted it on my Facebook page and I shall post it again here, along with the caption I added, just to see what sort of reaction I get, if any.
Please excuse the strong language, but this sort of thing really gets my goat (however, please feel free to disagree or debate the point with me).

So, brace yourselves, here goes:

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Because, ummm….ah yes, terminal fucking stupidity.

There’s this thing called “history” which appears in these other things called “books” and it will inform those who can “read” that practically every word of this meme is complete bollocks.

#utterfuckingnonsense

So, over to you.

#JusJoJan

Pingback to Linda G Hill.

 

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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Food for thought…

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For today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday post, (for which I am once again late) Linda G Hill left us the following prompt;

” “beef.”  Use it any way you’d like.”

Food for thought.

I was preparing a beef casserole for dinner this yesterday evening, glancing now and then at my phone, my Facebook newsfeed scrolling past with its usual menu of cats, memes, weird videos, duck-faced selfies and memes of cats, when one of the more unsavoury status updates about immigrants “ruining the English way of life and diluting traditional family values” oozed its way down the screen.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I’m cooking I tend to drift off and get lost in my thoughts a bit and while I floured the beef and chopped the vegetables I reflected on what “traditional family values” amount to these days.

For instance; this yesterday afternoon, after doing the mundane weekend chores in town, I came home to spend a relaxed Saturday with the family, but within ten minutes of sitting down we were all engrossed in our separate electronic devices.
I was checking my e-mails and catching up with the many blogs I follow, Rhonda was chatting with friends in the States on Facebook whilst simultaneously tending her virtual farmyard and Audrey was tapping away on my tablet, giving us a running commentary on the latest dragon she’d managed to breed.
We were together, we were each aware of the others’ presence, but we weren’t exactly interacting with each other.

Not that we don’t do stuff together all the time of course, in fact it’s often the reason I’m late posting SoCS, there just isn’t the time to fit all my Saturday into Saturday.

Tonight Last night, Audrey and I had our weekly appointment with Dr Who (“Is this going to be gross? It is isn’t it?”) and today there is a pumpkin to carve, a visit to feed the ducks and a walk (or scoot) in the autumn sunshine, just normal simple pleasures to share.

I occasionally wonder if the 21st century’s latest tools of social separation, mobile phones, are killing conversation and turning us into mindless zombies with no imagination, as we’re always being warned, (ironically, via snarky memes on social media) but on balance I think it’s more like social evolution.

Because is it really any different to the three of us all sitting around, reading three different books or magazines?

After all, practically the whole of human existence (not to mention the entire history of the universe) is available on the internet, so maybe we should be a more forgiving of a generation who will grow up with all that knowledge at their fingertips, they might end up being smarter than us.

Speaking for myself, if anything, having all this personal technology has made me more, not less, creative. My first forays into writing were purely down to the advent of the smartphone; the worlds Audrey has built in her dragon game and with Minecraft clearly take plenty of imagination and as for Facebook, well, if it wasn’t for that little addiction, the three of us never would have met in the first place.

Meanwhile, outside the kitchen window, the people from the flat upstairs were clearing a space on the small enclosed patio that serves as their only outside space in order to erect a rotary clothes line.

The family are Hungarian and speak only minimal English, but they are friendly enough and always say hello when we bump into them in the neighborhood, along with various members of their extended family, who are regular visitors.
Yesterday was no exception and before long there were nine of them crammed onto the tiny hedge-lined square of concrete, all offering advice on the positioning of the dryer, inspecting the sturdiness of its construction, or helping to move slabs aside, giggling kids dodging in and out, cups of coffee appearing from upstairs, laughter and lively conversation in a strange language and lots of cheerful faces.

It made me smile just to watch them and when the patriarch, happily surrounded by his chattering family, noticed me watching with amusement, he grinned hugely and raised his coffee cup in salute. I waved back, pleased to be included in their impromptu gathering.

In short, exactly the type of happy domestic scene that most of us probably remember from our childhoods, albeit filtered through the soft and fuzzy, rosy coloured glasses of nostalgia; three generations of the same family, happy in the simple pleasure of each others’ company.

If this is the dilution of English family values that the dullards on Facebook are talking about, I for one think we’re going to be ok for a while yet.

#SoCS

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What goes around, comes around…

It’s great to be excited about blogging again and, as I’m sure you’ve noticed from the increased frequency and variety of recent posts, I’m getting drawn into more and more new activities all the time.

My sudden conversion to writing fiction has really inspired me to finish Deus Ex Machina, the sci-fi story that had been patiently hanging around in my head, waiting for me to continue Kreel’s mysterious adventure, Linda G Hill has provided much additional inspiration with her One Liner Wednesday and Stream of Consciousness Saturday slots, both of which I’m now totally hooked on, the new photography blog, Photo Sans Frontiers is up and running (along with its companion Facebook page) and now I find myself with the hugely enjoyable prospect of another, future collaborative project.
And it’s all due to a spot of synchronicity worthy of the Tenuous Lynx his/her/itself.

Back in 2011, as a forty-something internet novice, (as opposed to a nearly-fifty Internet Nobody) I was just beginning to get to grips with something that everyone else seemed to have had a head start on, namely Facebook, and the idea that I could have my own little corner of the Great Big Double-u Double-u Double-u, to do with as I wanted, whether other people wanted me to or not.
I was also drawn to the idea that anyone could create a space that had a definite image of its own, some sort of identifying feel to it that made it stand out from the information overload of the internet.

Which, I quickly began to realise, was what blogs were for.

As I initially searched my newsfeed for any interesting and original content, hidden amongst the pictures of cats, recycled memes, “inspirational” quotes, pictures of cats, game requests, charity fads and more pictures of fucking cats, one of the more promising pages was called simply, Todd and Dustin’s Blog and it contained the slightly superior, sometimes snarky ramblings of a couple of likeable Americans called, rather unimaginatively I thought, Todd and Dustin.
It featured comical, sometimes nonsensical posts, occasional nihilistic ranting, creative writing competitions, video blogs and a satirical edge that I liked right away.

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Todd and Dustin – More fun than they look, honest.

The page is currently dormant and nothing new has appeared since January 2013, when the final message to their Facebook fans was as follows:

“GREED. CORRUPTION. RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM. TEA PARTY LUNATICS. HORRIBLE PARENTING. PEOPLE EATING EACH OTHER’S FACES. A DYING PLANET. WESTBORO BAPTISTS. WAYNE LAPIERRE. DRONE STRIKES. HONEY BOO BOO. JOHN BOEHNER. LOBBYISTS. THE TOP 1%.

THE WORLD IS A TOILET. WE TRIED TO SAVE YOU…”

So, not happy then.
And that was the last I heard of them, which was a shame because they were probably one of the sparks that lit my blogging fuse, so to speak.

If you are on Facebook, you can view their page HERE, but for those of you who haven’t been swallowed by the internet’s answer to crack cocaine, here’s their page’s utterly brilliant author blurb:

“Todd Michaels began his writing career in 1849 under the tutelage of a German Sheppard named Bradley. Since then, he has been producing work with such a non-stop fervor that dead people rot and living people die, merely at the mention of his name. Winner of several non-existent awards, Todd prides himself on his ability to make readers itch in places that they don’t even have while screaming out words that only pets can understand.

Dustin Tyler came out of the womb with a pen in one hand and a completely written short-story in the other. The story was said to be the most “important” item produced by mankind since Eve took a bite out of that giant round red item decades earlier. Unfortunately the story came in contact with what Dustin would later describe as “filthy” hands and had to be destroyed. Since then, Dustin has continued popping out of wombs with complete stories, though none are known to be as good as the original.”

Fast forward to last week and I get a Facebook friend request from some American bloke I’ve never heard of, whose name is a really obvious anagram of a film star I really don’t like, so I messaged him and asked why he chose to solicit my friendship.

As you do.

He told me he had been searching for like-minded people to invite to his page.

This may not seem noteworthy, except for the fact that, in the timezone lag between messages, I’d checked his “About” page.

As you do.

Under “Other names/nicknames” it said Todd and Dustin.

That’s…
I mean, that can’t…
Bloody hell, that’s a coincidence…

Etc…

Needless to say, I was delighted to finally make the acquaintance of someone who played one small part in my decision to take up blogging and, once he’d told me that he and Todd (he’s the Dustin half of the partnership) were on the verge of rebooting their own blog, it didn’t take me very long to suggest working on something together in the not too distant future.

As for what else he and Todd are up to, I was told only that they spend a lot of time playing video games, one of them is married to the other one’s sister, they are in the habit of starting projects that they like to leave half-finished and that; “If you’ve ever gotten a magazine in the mail with descriptions of tacky jewelry you best believe that we wrote it!”

By the way, it seemed important to him that you know this;
He only managed to deliver his friend request to me after escaping the clutches of 300 heavily armed men, using just his movie star good looks, a twizzler he happened to have on his person and a very small amount of violence, mainly involving forcible insertion of spiky and exotic vegetables, a gallon of LSD-infused vanilla custard and, purely as a last resort, a rocket launcher.

All of which goes to show, if you stay on the internet long enough, it will eventually take you to where you want to go, even if you didn’t know you wanted to go there in the first place.

 

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The anti-social network…

When was the last time you were offended or upset by something that a stranger did in public?

Is there a benchmark for inappropriate public behaviour that most people can agree on?

For instance, if a topless woman got on the bus you were travelling on, would you expect anyone to be offended?

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Ok gentlemen, bad example.

How about breast feeding?
Perfectly natural. Nothing unacceptable about that.
At least you wouldn’t have thought so.

Once you get online however, all the usual rules and logic seem to go out the window.

Hypocrisy appears to be the order of the day when it comes to the policies of Facebook in particular.
Only this week the social networking platform flip-flopped their ruling on gratuitously violent content, when they first defended the already once-reversed decision to allow the posting of an incredibly graphic video featuring the beheading of a woman by a Mexican drug gang, then re-reversed the ruling when there was a public backlash that such extreme violence could be so easily accessible by anyone with a Facebook account.

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Yet posting a photo of a woman breast feeding is expressly (no pun intended) forbidden by their nudity policy. In fact the policy, which specifically bans the depiction of a “fully exposed breast”, was rather confusingly cited as the reason for giving me a 24 hour ban from the site after posting the picture below, under the heading “Does anyone think this is an appropriate pose for a family photo?”

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See any breasts?
No.
Ok, it’s wrong on many levels, but it does not contravene the boob law as I understand it.

Even more bizarrely, I received a stern warning from the Fb taste police after posting a photo of a topless woman which most definitely does not contain breasts.
Posted in relation to a story on breast cancer awareness, the following photo shows the beautifully tattooed chest of a woman who has had a double mastectomy.

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See any breasts?
No.

The rules governing what is and what is not acceptable are so arbitrary they seem to have been pulled out of a hat at random and selectively applied to equally random content, without any rhyme or reason whatsoever.

Despite, or perhaps because of, this peculiar interpretation of their own policies it is still entirely possible to view other, similarly gruesome decapitation videos on Facebook without any special access being required.
Not only that, there are pages dedicated to everything from making tasteless jokes about babies dying of cancer to those that promote dog fighting and graphic cruelty to animals. Blatantly racist and misogynistic content seems to sail invisibly past whatever passes for the Fb decency filters, which only ever seem to be activated by mild sexual titillation and the hopefully obvious category of threatening other users with rape or personal violence.

Other platforms are often guilty of comparable lapses of common sense in applying their own rules,  most recently illustrated by Twitter‘s lamentably slow response to the raft of rape and death threats suffered by women such as the history teacher I would have loved to have had at school, Mary Beard, over something as ridiculous as whether or not we had a man or a woman on a bank note.

Really? Bomb threats over something like that?
You wouldn’t have thought the sort of moron who makes anonymous threats on Twitter would have that passionate an aesthetic appreciation of the engraver’s art would you?

And don’t get me started on the self-harm and bulimia glorification showcase that occupies an alarmingly growing percentage of tumblr content.

It’s true that we should have the freedom to watch, read and listen to whatever we want, without the censors second-guessing our moral standards for us. But the fact remains that anybody, including children and anyone else who can access a computer, laptop or smartphone, can join one or more of these ostensibly inoffensive social networks and within minutes be exposed to the type of graphic images once vilified as Snuff Movies.

I don’t claim to have any answers to the dilemma of how to regulate what makes something too offensive to publish, nor do I expect the situation to get anything but more complex as the sprawling embrace of the World Wide Web encompasses more of our daily lives.

But I do have a tenuous link to finish on, with two excellent videos for your entertainment.

The first is most certainly “all done in the best possible taste” showcasing as it does the comedic talents of one of Britain’s best loved and sadly missed performers, Kenny Everett
(Ron from Vent, this is for you)

… and the second most certainly isn’t, because right here you can watch the full length movie of Peter “Lord of the Rings” Jackson‘s outrageous debut feature length alien/zombie comic horror masterpiece from 1987, Bad Taste.
(Hilarious, but not for those of a delicate disposition or those easily offended, blah, blah, etc, etc..)

Enjoy.
And let’s be careful out there…

 

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Running commentary…

The more time I’ve spent writing Diary of an Internet Nobody, the more I’ve come to appreciate how important the part of comments is in helping to keep the stream of ideas flowing.

Since it appears to be the month for celebrating milestones – 15,000 hits, 200 followers – it’s also worth me taking a minute to congratulate you, my esteemed followership, on the fact that over 1000 comments have now been registered on the blog, (although I should point out, that does include my replies) and I’m grateful for each and every one.
I even had my very own troll for a while, but he seems to have crept back under his bridge of late.

Trolls aside, if it wasn’t for the opinions, advice and thought-provoking discussions that have begun in that little square box at the bottom of each post, many of the actual posts might not have been written in the first place.
Quite apart from the direct contributions so to speak, from old friends Oliver, who gave a personal account of a trip to Reading Festival in this post and Zippy, (Richard Thorns) who has added his own inimitable take on two separate stories which you can find at the top of the homepage, along with links to their sister posts.

[In related news, Zip’s passion for cryptozoology continues unabated and you can watch the video about his latest expedition to locate the fabled Pink Headed Duck right here…]

I have actually been congratulated by a writer I rate very highly (not without some degree of envy, I’m pleased to note) on the quality of the comments on the blog, and on the articulate calibre of my readers, so you should consider yourselves suitably flattered.

Both Bully for me… and Foot in mouth disease… were inspired by conversations I had elsewhere on the hard shoulder of one information superhighway or another.
While the time reading and commenting on other bloggers’ posts is time well spent, not just for the welcome reciprocal traffic this generates, but also for the chance to get involved in exchanges with like-minded people on subjects as diverse as the posts we all read.

The trouble is, if I see a good blog I automatically follow it. Likewise, if someone follows Diary of an Internet Nobody I’ll generally follow back, (although I’m starting to learn my lesson now, after getting spammed by various, deeply spurious, get rich quick schemes) which means I now have so many blogs to read that if I commented on them all, I’d need three of me just to give me time to write.

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And I like to leave a comment with a bit of thought behind it if I can, whether it’s just to join in with Adam, bashing the numpty-du-jour at A World Of Pain, trying my best to interpret the enigmatic art of Windhound over at Dragonshades, enjoying the eclectic mix of photography, video, reviews and comment in Emilie Rosson’s world, having an exchange of cultural views with Ron, flamboyant host of Vent or making terrible puns on Toemail.

But nothing beats the feeling you get when something you wrote generates enough interest or emotion in someone that they take the time to leave a thoughtful, well written comment.
These freely offered contributions act as additional insights into the subject of the original post, providing other readers with another point of view and sometimes even lead to cooperation and collaboration between bloggers.
Just this morning, turning my phone on to finish writing this post, I’ve commented on three blogs one of which, Tim Love’s blog is completely new to me, a recommendation from a fellow blogger.

Another problem I’ve had recently is trying to navigate the desktop site of the mobile-unfriendly but otherwise excellent BlogCatalog.com, so I’m going to find the blogs I follow on there which I can’t get through my WordPress Reader and follow them by email instead. That way I don’t need to spend hours trawling through dozens of microscopic notifications to find links to the latest pearls of wisdom from Rum Punch Drunk, to see the latest artistic offerings from the lovely Carol over at Anfinsen Fine Art or to catch the newest batch of scantily clad female fantasy warriors and/or poodle-haired ’80s rock drongos from the Assorted Thoughts of Big D’s Unsorted Mind.
And while we’re on the subject, Hey BlogCatalog, can we have an Android app please?
Thanks.

So thanks again for your help in making my blog what it is today. Because without all those wonderful interactions with all you other writers, readers and ranters to keep my neurons firing, what would I find to talk about?
And thank you once again to Ho, for his latest bespoke blog-toon.
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Rest assured, this will be the final burst of barely-disguised, self-congratulatory own trumpet blowing (for a while at least) but I am inordinately proud of my foray into the world of blogging and I’m not modest enough to care who knows it.
In fact, not since my days as a teenage theatre nerd have I been able to look at a body of creative work and said to myself “I/we did that from scratch and people like it”

And I like that.

 

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Double century…

476 days ago, two days after I started my new hobby, Diary of an Internet Nobody, I found that I had gained my very first follower.

I was extremely flattered of course.
I had only written a few rambling paragraphs by that point (the first post of which has since been accidentally deleted somehow) and all I knew about blogging had been learned online from a friend I had, at that point, still yet to meet in person.

But the passage of time has not made me blasé about the number of people who have chosen to continue reading my themeless musings, and each time I receive an email notification of a new follower I get the same buzz as I did the first time.

Now I have reached the extraordinary position of having 200 PEOPLE following the blog and I would like to say a heartfelt and sincere Yay for me!….. um, I mean a sincere and genuine thank you to each and every one of you.

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There are too many to thank you all individually (200 in fact. Did I mention that?) but I would like to give a few honourable mentions:

To all my old friends from Sussex, some of whom were asked to give their opinions on early drafts of the blog – Simon, Suzanne, Dan, Ali, occasional contributer and Weird Weekender, Zippy and of course, Ho, whose artistic services were recently engaged to illustrate the odd post. Thank you all for your support.

I’ve also picked up a lot of followers via Facebook, including several of my American friends and I’d especially like to thank Rhonda for her dedicated campaign of sharing, giving me feedback on previews of posts and generally saying nice things.

And then there are the other bloggers.

Where do I start?

Well, Darmon Richter obviously.
If you haven’t checked out The Bohemian Blog yet, then go find it.
I was so impressed, I started blogging.
Cheers Darmon

Not forgetting…..Ron, Lanthie, Matt, Tony, Sud, Kris, RPD, NP, Big D, Starr, Adam, Helena, Scorp sting, Ian, and all the other wonderful people in the blogosphere who’ve given advice, support and encouragement.

And how could I not mention Elaine, who has had to put up with me hassling her to look at stuff on my phone, proofread posts for me and hang around while I take dozens of photos whenever we go out anywhere. Thank you dear, for your patience.

That’s all I wanted to say really, just that I’m grateful to everyone who has read, shared, commented on, or liked any of the 150 (make that 151) posts that I’ve committed to the ether over the last year and a quarter.

Now, if you could all get one of your friends to start reading…

 
14 Comments

Posted by on October 9, 2013 in aardvark, Blogging, social networking

 

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