Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You

November 1, 2006

Out of Range Month™

Filed under: blogging,NaNoWriMo,writing — secretmojo @ 5:04 pm

Well, that’s it for my political posts. At least for this month. It’s getting stale around here, and while everyone around me dives into some creative NaNaBloPoNoWriMoNoJoBo event, I’ll be damned if I let myself get cranky and snarky in the meantime.

I haven’t thought of what I’ll be doing this month en lieu of NaNoWriMo (which I’ve participated in before), but I’ve decided that it must be something just as challenging, and significantly out of my range. The deadline is tonight for my decision; I’m vacillating between a few ideas I’m thoroughly afraid of. If I can’t make a decision, I’ll be flipping the fateful coin on the matter, and getting down to it.

What I’m saying is, it’s going to get weird around here (hopefully), so you’ve been warned.

See ya on the flipside!

October 25, 2006

Another blogger to web-stalk

Filed under: blogging,Feminism,Links,Politics — secretmojo @ 12:17 pm

Dangit. Wish I’d known about Danah Boyd earlier. Now I instantly have a copius backlog of posts I simply must read. Unlike most political/student blogs, this one seems chock-full of information. Raw data, snappy writing, chick heading toward a PhD. If only I had more time…

August 27, 2006

The Happy Hat is full now.

Filed under: blogging,Blogroll,Knitting — secretmojo @ 12:45 pm

I didn’t want to change my hat layout, especially stripe 7 because of its symbolic value. But I felt I needed to honor Bloglily, who, with one itty bitty post at Best Blog, opened the door for a stampede of knitters that eventually bowled me over so hard that when I came to, I had needles in my hands.

I ‘m also labeling one tassel for Kisknit’s mom, since Kisknit was planning to pass it on to her anyway.

hat-layout2.jpg

August 24, 2006

Payback

Filed under: blogging,Blogroll,Knitting — secretmojo @ 10:31 pm

[I’m knitting a hat for Made By Hand. And I’m an idiot. Which means you can do it too!]

Currently: Section Anna (ribbing)

Many online pals jumped in to encourage me when I began my knitting journey. It’s payback time.

hat-layout.jpg

Anna gets the first 2 rows of stockinette stitch for her tale of New Mexico wonder. She also gets the 4 rows of painstaking ribbing before that for all the pursuasion help she’s given—if she’s masochistic enough to take them.

Fencer gets the first off-white stripe. No worries, Fencer, by this time I’ll know what I’m doing, and the jumbled stitches will be all part of the plan (read: “Freedom Agenda”).

The third stripe, back in blue, will be Firefly’s. This will be in honor of her fluttering about, delivering morsels of knitting enthusiasm, adding to the cumulative pressure that drives a guy to knit.

The fourth white stripe will be for Charlotte, who always pens a great post, and who suggested that a guy knitting is an odd tale worth telling. I have not yet learned how to knit like a man, though I think the cussing was a good start. I’m at a frontier here, but by grabbing her suggestion by the balls and shaking the crap out of it till it screams like a little girl, I will discover by stripe four what a “Man Knit” may be like.

Fifth stripe, by my prediction, will be a quick roll of the needles. Done in less than 30 minutes. This will be Mi Pura Vida’s, for her punchy writing style, and to alleviate all the troubles she’s been through.

Katie will receive the sixth white stripe, because she wished me good luck, and because she will, like me, knit a rather hilarious looking hat, but on purpose.

Sixth also goes to fiberfetish, who warned me that I wouldn’t be able to see my stitches with “Homespun” yarn, well before I knitted two together by mistake!

Seventh and final stripe? I wanted to give this one to Anna again, but I will leave it free, because:

The seaming goes to Anna, not only as a warning that I will be collecting that ice cream cone soon, but because the seam is the thread that keeps it all together.

The tassels go to kisknit, because this will be my final act, the culmination of a month’s plus work, and she’d be the one who gave me a reason to finish.

And the whole hat, of course, will go to a person who, in a heartbeat, would swap the entirety of my knitting troubles for a day of their own.

August 23, 2006

Two blog changes

Filed under: Blog Spam,blogging,RSS,Spam,Technology,WordPress — secretmojo @ 4:42 am

Two blog changes

If you notice the “My Blogroll says…” feed over to the side, it may have ugly question marks where quotes and whatnot should be. This is the unfortunate consequence of switching to FeedBlendr to deliver my blogroll feed. Apparently, WordPress does not encode the titles of feeds properly, so FeedBlendr (and others) munges them in the process.

But the advantage of FeedBlendr is that I can put everybody in the feed. Until now, I used FeedCombine, which kept the titles pretty, but only allowed 10 bloggers the chance to get listed. Since I began using my own blog more and more to follow other blogs, especially via my “Blogroll says…” sidebar, I decided, despite the nasty look of it, to switch. So that’s the reason it’s ugly: so I alone can get my blog fix.

Also, I found that the Akismet Spam eliminator for WordPress does an excellent job of finding opportunistic dorkweeds who think blogs are bathroom stall walls they can write on. Therefore, I’m increasing the number of links a commenter can cite to 10, because I am not a fan of prejudicial computer-controlled censorship (how does linking make someone a spammer?), nor do I like being away from my blog only to discover upon my return that sweet Anna got the door slammed in her face simply because she was trying to help out.

So there are the changes. We now return to our regular brain-burning exercises already in progress.

August 17, 2006

Akashic Chat with ChatCreator

Filed under: blogging,Technology — secretmojo @ 4:52 am

My friend and I played with the constantly evolving ChatCreator, which is spectacular for two reasons.

First, any chat room can be created instantly by modifying the end of a URL. Simple—and extremely powerful. You need no account, no special software, no awareness of irc hosts and channels. Just name your chat room, and go.

For instance, if you wanted to Bitch_About_The_President, you’d add that to the end of the standard prefix, http://www.chatcreator.com/chatap/rooms/, and voilà! You’ve created a chat room out of thin air.

The simple URL allows, for example, any blogger to provide a “kibitz” room for her posts simply by devising a unique URL based on her permalink, or through creative whim. This creates a space for reader comments or get-togethers based on that post. Imagine the uses this could have for live blogging.

But that’s not the sweetest part. With today’s technology, text is infinitesimally cheap to store. Which is why the other feature of ChatCreator is so intriguing: persistence.

Currently, what you type in a ChatCreator chat room is saved for posterity. This feature mixes real-time chat with something like comments on a blog and web page indexing. A person could stick her head in for a moment, interject while no one was there, and return later to catch up on, and continue, the conversation—which is not possible with AIM or Yahoo.

Furthermore, persistent chat opens up possibilities for RSS feeds, chat room email updates, and of course the delectably voyeuristic ability to sneak a peek on what people have talked about the past few years.

Imagine searching all public chat rooms at will; you’d have a world-wide database of conversations to tap into: philosophy classes, interviews, tech support, personal confessions, and on and on. With anonymity features, this makes seeing others’ sessions even more interesting.

These two features, persistence and easy room creation, along with no requirement to have an account, may just revolutionize chat—as long as the spam issue is somehow taken care of, and as long as people are willing to chat publicly with a person over their shoulder.

I’m imagining a future when netizens can find conversations on every conceivable topic. You’ll be able to Google a conversation in the near future. ChatCreator might just be the primitive version of the multimedia Akashic Records that will be implemented in, let’s say, 20 years. Think of the world of strange people you’d be able to visit, the culture helmets you could try on, and all the experiences you’re missing out on now…

August 16, 2006

Pinging sends me to the hot seat

Filed under: blogging,wordpress gems — secretmojo @ 3:15 am

To my dismay, I cast myself as editor, with zero qualifications.

A couple weeks ago, I tossed up a post I called “WordPress Gem Collection,” not only as a personal challenge to concisely describe something, but to find diamonds in the rough—those moments when a typical blogger of 300,000 finds herself in the zone, rolling out a small piece that, if not soon snatched up and filed, may be lost forever.

My standards? Whim. Consciously, I limited myself to WordPress blogs so I could play with their new tags page. Subconsciously, I wanted blogs I hadn’t visited before, a post with a fresh angle I’d never considered. Spelling mistakes, writing snafus, and so on were less important to me than voyeuristically sneaking up on a genuine moment of inspiration and putting it in a jar.

I considered it activism, in my heroically charged moments of delusion. Empower the small guy, give him a chance to overcome the intimidating popularity of well-known sites. By pinging and linking these gem posts, I felt I was offering an anonymous pat on the back: “good stuff, man.” I had a chance to not just be a fan, but to legitimately strengthen a blogger who impressed me.

Yet. Dismay.

Honestly, I didn’t expect my pinging to bring the authors to my site to comment, and I sure didn’t expect anyone to blogroll me because of it. I just wanted more people to see a good post. I’m a softy for comments, and this served as a pleasant surprise.

But entering a more public arena always seems to complicate ethics. Here I am now, worrying that I’d left someone out, that I hadn’t judged quality properly, that I may be “going for the ping.” I feared I listed too many, that readers would think “holy crap, this guy can’t judge good stuff at all.”

Then I toiled over the sentences themselves: did one advertise a link better than the other? Will I offend the author? Did I get the tone right, the order right, or indeed the facts right?

I seriously considered not pinging the authors of my selected posts. Even though it would deprive me of the comments I love so much—and deprive the authors of a chance to respond—it would at least make the act more intrinsically generous. It would also relieve the awkward pressure to add a blog to my blogroll that I’d rather not. I never considered my blogroll as currency. Now, I’m not so sure.

All of a sudden, in my mind I became an editor, with all the suck of it included. Gems weren’t just a personal set of bookmarks, but a statement to the world. A statement on, er… something. The power of calling them gems, and the fact I did it more than once (yet not all the time), promoted me to a personally ordained hot seat.

Maybe the most genuine way to get the hell over my self-centered angst is to continue as I’ve been doing. Find stuff I like, and link to it. Simple idea, really. Done all around the networld.

But what if I link to someone who might freak out at my political posts, get me all wrong, or not want the attention to begin with? What if this, what if that…

I exaggerate my own importance all the time. Six billion people in the world and limitless stars in the sky, yet here I am, egomaniac, thinking I’m the duke of some section of the planet.

I’m not mighty; I’m mini. And in that comfort—if I can sustain it long enough—I shall continue to plow on, pinging away, like a child running through a minefield…

August 15, 2006

Blogging — what was it?

Filed under: blogging,writing — secretmojo @ 5:02 am

Let’s take the TARDIS back to a time, oh so very long ago, when weblogs were a fresh idea, when 90210 had more meaning than 9/11, and the dreaded Y2K bug made our world collapse into the dark ages: 2000.

Both Fencer and Writer Chick (hat tip to sonael) asked recently “what is blogging for?” Rebecca Blood gives this answer:

The blogger, by virtue of simply writing down whatever is on his mind, will be confronted with his own thoughts and opinions. Blogging every day, he will become a more confident writer. A community of 100 or 20 or 3 people may spring up around the public record of his thoughts. Being met with friendly voices, he may gain more confidence in his view of the world; he may begin to experiment with longer forms of writing, to play with haiku, or to begin a creative project–one that he would have dismissed as being inconsequential or doubted he could complete only a few months before.

I can say that maybe this worked for Rebecca Blood, but not so idealistically for me. In fact, I find my posts drifting away from my crux, developing an ever-growing obsession with politics and an undue concern for witticisms. Am I losing my self, or am I discovering it to rue it?

I started blogging billions of years ago at a blog I’m not brave enough to name here, with the explicit intent to spit out short fiction and discover my unique writing style. I’ve deleted it, restarted it, neglected it, reclaimed it, and moved elsewhere. Hopefully I entertained some people on the way and built a repertoire of worth.

I’ve come a long way, baby.

My ideas are pretty much all over the place now. I mean, check out my categories. China? Mediachumps? Religion? Travel? Knitting? I can say that Blood is certainly right about exploring new topics and the communal impetus to write more crap. But she presents the happy conclusion of writerly improvement; I confess that my peripatetic tour of the Earth has not landed me in a better place.

In all honesty, it’s my fault. Things bug me, fascinate me, hijack my brain. The non-editorial “Publish” button wields way too much power for reckless me. I’ve mused about Selectric typewriters, old flames, the Pope, and other assorted mini-nuggets because my head’s too active to let it be. I’ve offended friends and brief visitors alike with irreverent, uninformed (and somewhat insulting) rants. I’m furious, silly, juvenile, introspective, frightened, needy, and occasionally insightful. This is not unique; everyone has more than one skeleton under their skin. That’s why blogs are so damn interesting.

But through it all, I’m still unfocused; a Chinese juggler trying to keep all the plates afloat. I excuse laziness as “conversational tone.” I have no theme to my blog besides a coupling of my nickname with “dumb.” Anything’s game. This may not be bad; Royko wrote about everything. (I daren’t compare myself to Royko, because that would be asinine, but simply mention that a variety of topics can be done.)

It seems I’m still seeking my style. Is it conversational, rage-filled, syllable-laden, punchy, philosophical, brooding, relaxed, casual, supercilious, sardonic? I have the slightest, because I’ve tried all of those, and all of them fit, yet none of them fit. And the risk here is tossing off a post that gives everybody the wrong impression of what’s coming up next, or what I’m all about, which is: hell if I know.

So, blogging, what was it? For me, it used to be a chance to showcase the neat stuff that popped into my head, and to share stories that otherwise would meet brutal deaths in the ether. A vanity press of sorts. It was a chance to add perceived worth to my own mind, and to improve upon it.

Today, I don’t know what the heck it is. A wordy person’s video game? A social compensation device?

In the end, it’s my head, and if I can’t get control of it or know its own contents, if I cannot assemble the neurons in a package of somewhat definable character, then indeed I have no voice. I’m a chameleon, Mojo eternally Secret.

Or maybe it’s like Camus said: it makes no difference, as long as I keep chugging away…

August 13, 2006

WordPress Gems: Love and War

Filed under: blogging,Blogroll,Love,war,wordpress gems,writing — secretmojo @ 4:01 am

I loitered around the “war” and “love” WordPress tags again, continuing in a weekly enjoyment of mine: finding gems. It’s like prowling the beach with a metal detector—except I always return richer. And less candy-apple red.

Much more war talk than love talk out there in blogland. Probably because war is always an encompassing crisis, demanding attention; while love is a singular blessing, constantly diverting (ahem) attention.

Also, I noticed it was easier to find interesting love posts than war posts (note to self). Love comes personal and generous; war arrives mostly abstracted and angry.

Anyway, here they are. I hope you like them as much as I did.
War

Unitedcats finds contemporary meaning from the book, Guns of August, a history of the Great War.

Raincoaster has some fun with “silly bunt” Ann Coulter, by posting a short video demonstration of her defiant ignorance on Canada re: Vietnam.

Conflicted, Leadingthenextinquisition ambles through aninternal Just War debate that scares, but intrigues me.

They split the heavens: barkowitz sets the might of an air strike to verse in “I Was There.”

Liberalwill unleashes a short rant on the passionate cruelty of war, articulating it so well I thought I’d written it myself. 🙂

Sixteen years ago, Iraqi troops stormed into Kuwait. Some don’t remember, but afroz, as a 12-year-old who woke up to the invasion, does.

Flawedplan offers you blog snippets of a “wry, literate” soldier in Iraq, REV Wayfarer, who always had one foot in the grave.

Love

Witness the sorry state of love triangle dynamics, anonymously laid out by “Tom” in an open letter to “Albert,” who failed to sweep Tom’s “June” away.

I’ve never gotten a post-coital “txt msg” before.

Monisha mourns her beloved father who, after dying of kidney complications, left holes all over.

From eros to philos to agape? Ysabol Ladyhawke designs a shirt for “couple-surfers” who renounce hand-holding and “jack in” to their rather geeky relationship.

Hastydevil details the moment a gay romance started with a handshake.

Sisterly devotion gushes from Melissa when she thanks miss Anna, her angel, for sharing all those rough times (with pictures).

Emmbie, telling the troubles of her friend Lucy, cautions what sex can lead to for a Hmong woman. (link modified to respect Lucy’s privacy)
Richiethepoet longs for more guilt-free, vulgar love with that bitch, Lissa.

Have fun, people.

August 10, 2006

Some blogs don’t stage too well.

Filed under: blogging,Humor — secretmojo @ 1:18 am

Some blogs make for great live theatre.

Others don’t.

****
Whiskey Bar

KOWALSKI: (screaming at Stella) Factoring in a moderate amount of body count inflation on the IDF’s part, that looks like a 3:1 kill ratio! (three Hizbullah fighters for every Israeli!) or maybe even a bit lower!

Boing Boing

SHELLEY LEVENE: I’ve tried several different ways to play my computer’s MP3s on speakers around the house, but each one fell short in some significant way. Either the wireless range was too short, or it interfered with my WiFi, or the system’s controls and interface were so clunky that it was too much of a hassle to use.

Cursor

ROMEO:

But soft!, What light through yonder window breaks!
USA Today reports that “Congress
Appears ready to slash funding for the
Research and treatment of brain injuries
Caused by bomb blasts, an injury that
Military scientists describe
As a signature wound of the Iraq
War.”

Schobliezer

TORVALD: (as Nora leaves) Niall Kennedy leaves Microsoft, he announced today on his blog. That’s a bummer.

What’s in Rebecca’s Pocket?

NINA ZARIETCHNAYA: What beautiful stories he writes! Fiction with mathematical plots or subplots can be found here: http://math.cofc.edu/kasman/MATHFICT/mfbrowse-pubyear.php

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