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The Passing Of A Friend

At the beginning of December I received some very sad news: a friend of mine, Charlie Wildgoose had lost his three-year battle with prostate cancer and had crossed into his Summerland. Professionally, Charlie was a solicitor (lawyer). He retired from work sometime after his diagnosis.

I never got to meet Charlie in real life, but we were online friends, having gotten connected back in 2006, (or maybe 2007), via Yahoo!’s long-defunct blogging platform, 360, and remained connected via other social media sites, such as Multiply, (also now defunct!), Twitter, Flickr and Facebook.

Charlie was a “rambler”, which in British English means that he was someone who would meet up with other members of a local ramblers group and walk the footpaths in the countryside around and about their home area, oftentimes acting as unpaid stewards of said paths. He was also an author, writing a number of guidebooks for some of these walks.

I always thought of how, on some visit back to my Welsh homeland, a road trip to the beautiful Derbyshire countryside around Matlock, that Charlie had blogged about and posted pictures of on Flickr, would happen, with Charlie as a local guide and, afterwards we’d go enjoy some of the offerings at a local hostelry.

As a blogger Charlie not only blogged about the everyday things in his life, the kinds of things we all blog about, but he was lucky enough to have found a trove of blogging material in the form of the journals from 1870 of his great-great-great uncle, John Bayliff Bowman, a farmer in the same area Charlie lived in. I don’t know if it is irony, synchronicity or prescience of the coming end that the last post on Charlie’s blog was one of the journal entries, part of which included the journal entry by Mr. Bowman, concerning the passing of his father. The journal entry ended with this thought:

“…may we endeavour so to live that some may not fear to die whensoever the call may come.”

Judging by the many posts on his Facebook page, I am not the only person whose life was touched by Charlie, and a lot of us had only ever met him online. His son, Jamie, wrote a wonderful entry that announced the news of his father’s passing:

Charlie Wildgoose 1950 – 2013 

Dad passed away peacefully in hospital this afternoon, surrounded by his family. He was 63 years old.

We will all miss so many things about him, but at the moment it is hard to imagine logging on to a computer and not seeing the latest write-up of one of his walks, which were so enjoyed by his friends near and far – or pages from our ancestor, John Bayliff Bowman’s 1870 Farm Journal, the most recent of which featured John describing the death of his own father all those many years ago. It’s a beautiful entry and Dad was hugely excited about getting to it in his regular updates – going so far as to show me the actual journals themselves just last week – the first time I’d actually seen the original volumes. Dad loved to write, and was delighted that his blog and his photos were enjoyed, and that they brought Derbyshire and the countryside he loved so much to a wider audience. Dad could see something special everywhere he looked in the land around here, it was a truly remarkable thing.

Although Dad had been ill for a few years with advanced prostate cancer; his courage in dealing with his illness, his good humour, and his genuine ability to live each day to the fullest, made it easy to forget he was ill at all. It is a great comfort to think back on these times and remember Dad as he always was: a man who loved his friends, his family and the countryside – and who was in turn greatly loved back.

He was my father and my oldest friend. I miss him.

Rest in peace Charlie. Rest in peace, my friend.

Why Twitter Rocks II

Brushes With Fame

In my previous entry, I wrote about meeting The Bloggess at a book signing. I have, however, had a few other brushes with fame

Back in 1999, in one of the multitude of bookstores in the English town of Hay-on-Wye I briefly met Phil Harding, one of the archaeological forces behind on of the best tv shows ever to grace the British airwaves, Time Team. I instantly regretted bumbling a few words at him and not offer to go sit in a pub, buy him a drink and some grub and listen to his stories and advice and so I just wandered off, embarrassed!

The next celebrity I got to meet was Russell Grant, the British astrologer, who came in to the place I was working, for a meeting with the owner. I actually remember very little, except he was dressed in sweatpants and I acted like a butler!

This past November, my wife & I went to the Romney/Ryan campaign rally in West Chester, OH and I managed to greet and introduce us, to the political blogger Robert S. McCain, aka The Other McCain, who in turn introduced me to his companion and fellow political blogger,  Ali A. Akbar, as they dashed through the line. A brief meeting, but one which my wife & I were stoked to have had.

To finish, a couple of “six degrees of separation” connections for some indirect brushes with fame.

My late Nan was the cleaner at the, (now since demolished), British Transport Police offices at Cardiff Central railway station. I don’t recall his rank, (Sgt.?), but one of the BTP officers was Dennis Giggs, but if you’re into soccer you will more likely know his grandson, Ryan.I don’t recall ever meeting him, but if we did it was probably when Pope John Paul II visited Cardiff, as we watched the procession from the offices’ windows.

Finally, whilst at university, one of my close friends played football with the then-future-now-former Captain of the Wales rugby team, Mark Taylor.

Meeting The Bloggess

In my almost 42 years of life, I have met a handful of people who I consider famous, (is that a lot or a few, I wonder, but I digress).

This past Tuesday, I got to meet Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, a blogger whose work I have been a fan of for a while now, as her entries never fail to amuse. She was in Dayton at the Books & Co., at The Greene,  for a “Meet The Author” event, where she did a reading from her book of memoirs, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, (she is on a book tour to promote it coming out in paperback). The store management had asked her to not use any curse words, (I’m assuming because the large children’s section and the sizable Christian books section are within earshot, of the meeting space for the event, even without a p.a. system), so she chose “hippopotamus” as a substitute!

 

She then took some questions from the audience and then had a book signing.

When it got to my turn, my mind was blank with what small talk to make. As I snapped a picture of her signing the newly bought copy of her book…

The Bloggess Book Signing

…I was thinking not only I hope my ‘phone’s battery doesn’t die before I get a pic, but what to say. Then it occurred to me how much there is actually to see/do around Dayton, but how little time she had in the area, (or any of the places on her book tour, for that matter), I asked if she had managed to see anything of the area, here and in the other places on the tour.

“No,” she sighed. “But I did get to eat at Arby’s,” she said, with what I felt pretend enthusiasm.

“Ugh. If I had known, I would have brought you a Killer Brownie, from a local store here, Dorothy Lane Market. I had thought of bringing one, but changed my mind. MAybe you could grab one before you leave, tomorrow,” I responded. (I had had the idea earlier in the day, but on discussing it w/ DW, it was decided I didn’t want to be “that” fan, (though considering some of the stuff that was present in the photo ops, a gift of a brownie would have been out of place as too sensible!)

Disappointment overcame Jenny’s face and I felt bad. However, her next event was in Cincinnati the next night, so quick wittedly I realized she’d be in Dayton at least for the next morning, so as I retrieved my newly signed book.

“Thanks. It was great to meet you and don’t forget – Killer Brownie, Dorothy Lane Market!”

And with that, I walked away, happy to have met Jenny and over the moon that I hadn’t become a babbling idiot and had had some real small talk to engage.

Some people don’t like her because her writings have a liberal smattering of expletives, others because they just don’t believe anyone could have such a craziness about them, but I have always seen in her writings a glimpse into everyone’s life. We all have that crazy s**t in our lives that we just don’t tell anyone about, but seeing someone write about some event mirrored or similar to something in your own life makes you realize we all have these issues, at some level.

Glastonbury Festival 2000

Every year, around this time, my thoughts turn to my impending birthday. However, since 2001, I’ve also found myself get nostalgic for a unique event in my life that I hope, one day, to repeat – a birthday weekend at the Glastonbury Festival!

Going to the Festival in 2000, was my first, last, one and only visit to a large festival like that and I loved it. Of course, they have weekend–long music and arts festivals on this side of the pond, but there’s something special for me about “Glasto” that no other festival will be able to replace.

Friday:
We arrived at our chosen spot at the very top of the whole site and set up. No traffic problems going in and by 12:40 we’re unpacked and ready to go. Off we wander just taking in the experience. We decided that mornings are for sleeping, early afternoons are for wandering and late afternoons/evenings are for bands.

After a good wander, we grabbed a beverage and the final couple of numbers from Fu Manchu on the Other Stage at some point in the afternoon. We then looked at the guide and decided that we’d see Priory of Brion, (a certain Mr. Plant’s new band), and The Waterboys on the Acoustic stage, with the special guest on the Pyramid (main) Stage in between them.

As we got to the Acoustic Stage, Jack Lukeman was finishing. We listened to Priory… both inside and outside the tent, (nearly all the stages were in “Big Top”–type tents). The Special Guest was Macy Gray, we listened to two songs then left. We did end up at the Dance Tent after we listened to a couple of The Waterboys tracks, but I can’t really remember what we did in between, (drink was involved, I believe!). We left the Dance Tent as I just couldn’t “get into it”.

Saturday:
We decide that we’re going to see Reef, Ocean Colour Scene and Travis on the Pyramid, with Rolf Harris at the Avalon Stage breaking up OCS and Travis. This meant that after Rolf we got back and caught the end of The Pet Shop Boys. This was probably the best day of the weekend.

Whilst wandering, we came across Lucky Rich, an Aussie juggler/escapologist/sword swallower who looks like Keith Flint, but with loads of tattoos and a kilt! His sword swallowing act included him bending over forwards for an audience member to pull out the sword!

Next we stopped by the comedy tent and caught some of Mark Kelly, who was not bad. Fair play to him, at times knew he was dying but didn’t care. Apparently, he used to be “Mr. Nasty”, if that helps anyone…

Reef were bloody good. I know few of their songs, yet easily got into those I didn’t know, and they did a really good cover of “Sex and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll” as a tribute to Ian Dury, who would have been on the same bill, apparently.

What we caught of The Pet Shop Boys was instantly recognizable. I must have been more merry than I thought, as I didn’t realize until most of the way through “What Have I Done to Deserve This” that Cerys Matthews, someone I’m a fan of, had stepped in as guest vocalist in place of the late Dusty Springfield

Travis’ set was, like Reef’s, full of songs I didn’t know, but easy to get into. Their encore consisted of a very good, semi-acoustic, iirc, cover of “Hit Me Baby One More Time” (yes, Britney Spears’ song) and “The Music” by The Band.

Getting back to the Tent after Travis was a bit of a nightmare as Travis, Flaming Lips and Fat Boy Slim all apparently finished around the same time. This was probably the worst point of the day being in a crowd of around 50000, all trying to go in pretty much the same direction.

But the highlight of the day… sorry… the weekend, was Rolf Harris! Yes, he was 70 at the time and played the same old songs but we bloody loved him for it. The tent for the stage he was playing probably holds 1000 at a push… I think 2000, maybe even 3000 people crowded in and around the tent to hear him. (His consequent appearances at Glastonbury have all been on the bigger stages). At the sides of the tent, the crowds raised the walls so they could see. It was marvelous to look about and see as many different sorts of people as could be, all there for one thing: to cheer for and sing with Rolf! Everyone sang along to every song he did, except for the excellent “A Fine Day” which was his new single, to which we all just pogo’d. He even added sound effects, in his inimitable way.

At one point we were repetitively chanting “Rolf”, when he stopped us and told us to “try this one” and proceeded to use the “Guantanamera” tune to sing “One Rolfie Harris, there’s only one Rolfie Harris”, even directing the key change.

When it came to the end of the performance, the MC was booed when telling us that that was the end of the set. The booing grew even louder when he said about the great act following. If we’d had been allowed, I think we’d have kept Rolf there all night. I’m sure he would have happily obliged too!

Sunday:
We had great plans, but the best laid plans of mice and men…

The plans were: Willie Nelson late afternoon, Chumbawamba, possibly some Happy Mondays, then Paul Carrack, a little Suzanne Vega and then Bowie.

The heat from Saturday seemed to have taken more toll on me than I thought, as a little sunburn meant my forehead was quite sore and my arms, nose and neck were starting to feel the same. Insanely, all I did to combat this was to use a little sun lotion and spent all morning laying in the shade of the tent sipping water or sleeping and most of the afternoon wandering the friendly New Age/hippy area. I briefly slept in the “Sacred Space” area, (a field with a stone circle near one end) and woke up just in time to find my way down to catch Chumbawamba.

I had decided that, judging by the way I felt, walking over to see Willie Nelson, standing in the sun and coming back for Chumbawamba would have near killed me. After Chumbawamba I decide to go back to the tent and as I wandered, I came across The Wurzels playingon a small bandstand. I only stayed for the end of one song, then “I’ve Got a Brand New Combine Harvester”, and the start of another song. The crowd was small when I arrived, but had grown to be fairly large by the time I left. The reason they were on the little bandstand in the middle of a bunch of stalls and not on one of the stages is a great story. Apparently the lead singer turned up at Michael Eavis’ farmhouse a few weeks before, looking for tickets and instantly they were invited to play!

Well, my plan was, back to the tent to change and then venture to the Acoustic tent for Paul Carrack, to meet up with my friend. This however didn’t happen. I fell asleep once more and awoke at goodness knows when with an urge to use the bathroom, so, off I trot, toilet roll in hand, (allegedly a tradable commodity @ Glasto!). Anyhow, it transpires that I had enough time for some ablutions, a change of clothes and a roast pork sandwich, (of course – they seemed to be a staple food source for me all weekend!), before Bowie came on.

Thankfully, I had just chosen a spot that I was comfortable with and about to sit down, when his set starts. Maybe it was the general euphoria of the crowd or an inner sense of occasion, but by the end of “All The Young Dudes”, I’m singing along, (when I knew the words), clapping and cheering just as much as the next person. Even the stuff he did I had never heard of was great. There was even a track he did which was kind of a “drum and bass” genre tune! Part of the encore included a slight reworking of “Let’s Dance”, probably my favourite Bowie track.

Random Thoughts on the Experience:
Go with an open mind and no opinion about anyone and the way they dress/look/act and you’ll have a great time. Which also means, don’t be paranoid about what people might think about the way you dress/look/act, either!

Don’t be completely paranoid about your tent being robbed/stolen or you being robbed. I found the best way to deal with this was to think that it was going to happen to me, sooner or later, so I was really happy when I got home with money, tent & stuff all present and accounted for.

Don’t expect to have an undisturbed, full–night’s sleep.

In the general market area there are four types of shops: food, clothes, instruments, (drums & didgeridoos mostly), & New Agey stuff.

In the Green Fields, (i.e. New Age/hippy area), you can also get massages, therapies, readings, etc. Even though the area and origins of the Festival are very “New Agey”, the festival isn’t a thoroughly New Age/hippy affair.

As darkness descends, the air gets very smoky as everywhere people light fires and outdoor candles.

Maybe there’s a little too much drug use. If there’s smoke in the air it usually has a sickly sweet smell…

When you get to a high point in the site, you’ll be awe–struck by the size of the whole site.

Take along or buy a hat, if it is sunny.

Make sure you always have water handy if it is hot & sunny. The site can get quite dusty.

Make sure you use some sort of sun protection lotion and some after–sun care cream.

Make sure you have a bum–bag/fanny pack or similar, “secure” pouch for keeping your money in.

You can’t walk around hungry for long.

The wax from the outdoor candles is very, very hot. I still have a few small scars to prove it.

Next time I go, I’m going to try the stuff I didn’t get around to, like a craft workshop.

My Regrets:
Missing Willie Nelson; don’t know why, but I felt quite gutted when I decided to miss him.

Missing The Happy Mondays, who were apparently only together for the Festival.

Wednesday, when it was back to work & reality, (thankfully I had wisely taken the Monday and Tuesday off to acclimatize).

Well, I am so glad I went now, and even more glad I had a friend with me to enhance the experience, but all too often over the weekend, I thought that it was a shame that more of our friends had not decided to come along. Maybe one year…!

Email Convo:
For the benefit of my friends that hadn’t gone, I wrote an email, which was the basis for this blog entry. Here’s some comments from a reply I made to my own email and to some of the comments made by my friends who didn’t go, (their comments are italicised).

I’ve been in an hour or so, (I started writing this @ 12:00ish), still on the rollercoaster ride between tiredness & happiness. Despite 11 hours sleep last night, I’m still there! No doubt work’ll change that tomorrow! *s*

On the subject of going next year I’m quite keen to go to a festival just for the experience of having been and Glastonbury is the obvious one. That is the main reason I went.

I’d have gone this year if there had been somebody I’d really like to have seen. I thought this year’s line–up was particularly poor. I’m also really…

Rolf Harris was about the only person who, before the event, I would have been gutted to miss. Glad to have seen Bowie too, seeing as the guy is such a big name. And I agree… the line–up was not particularly good, but that’s life.

…put off by the conditions. I have hated all my previous experiences of camping and the description of the toilets sounds desperately grim. You also…

Well, I only described the cubicle–type toilets. There were also urinals and chemical toilets and they were all regularly emptied. I didn’t use a chemical toilet so I can’t describe them. The urinals were… well… urinals, (connected to the cubicle sess pools, I think).

…have to remember it didn’t rain this year…

We did have a brief shower on the Friday… for about 10 seconds! But the weather in the early part of the week was piss poor. Personally, I think I would have enjoyed myself if it had snowed!

Besides, you don’t get sunburned if it’s raining.

*rubs sore forehead & arms*

If a large number of people decide to go next year or if there’s an artist I’d really like to see (and I can afford it) I’ll probably consider going.

Go on… live a little… *s*

It sounds like you had a really good time.

Despite the lengthy post, I can’t really describe just how much I did enjoy myself.

Just chuckling to myself about the fact that everyone staggers back to the tent at night and would shout, “Bollocks” – This is quite a funny thing when you have 1000’s of people all shouting it at the same time, and it echoes across the Glastonbury Site!!

“Piiiggg… piiiiigggg… squeal little piggy, squeal!” This became a bit of a theme with me and my friend. Whether we were hungry or not, whenever we saw a vendor selling roast pork sandwiches, we’d make the call and kill ourselves laughing. Guess you had to be there, really! *lol*

#Tie me kangaroo down, sport, tie me kangaroo down…# Altogether now.

Final Thought:
Whether Glastonbury or some other festival, you really should go at least once in your life! I remember, when I originally posted this, being sat at my computer with Monday’s evening news on in the background and still feeling on high!

Turning The Ship Of My Life Around

This past September, I started working again, after almost two years of being unemployed.

At the beginning of my period of unemployment, I saw it as an opportunity to have more of a home life for a while, so I took the easy option of doing the bare minimum job searching to receive Unemployment Insurance, as I figured I was “owed it”, having worked since I was first authorized to, in April 2001.

This was the wrong kind of thinking and I fell into the trap…

The UI I was receiving was just enough to cover our costs, so I coasted along, dipping into our savings, if I needed to.

Sometime in the Spring of 2011, though, I realized I was living in a manner I felt was dishonest, so came off the UI and started living off the rest of our savings and the paltry amount I had in my 401(k). I really should have done that earlier, as it meant that I was now facing an even bigger struggle in obtaining even an interview for a job.

What this meant was, that as well as, almost frantically, firing off numerous job applications a week, I started to toy with ideas for starting a business. Some may never work, and those that do might not make me a millionaire, but I feel much better about my lot in life and certainly believe that America is still the land of opportunity, you just need to put some effort in to your version of the “American Dream” and not sit back, expecting others to give it to you.

The job I have now is temporary, but looks like it will last well in to 2012, with a reasonable wage. As soon as our debts are back down and our savings start to build, I feel that my renewed confidence in myself means that, one way or another, things will just get better and better for me and my family, as time goes on.

2012 is the year that I will finally start making a difference. Grow up, if you like.

You can do it, too. Just think about all the things you want in life and start working towards them. Baby steps are all you need, too.

For example. I want my family and I to have our own place in the country, where we can live as self-sufficiently as possible. This will mean moving from our city dwelling, which in turn means “doing it up” for an eventual sale. So my first step? Dressing up for work! Hey… fixing this place ready for sale will take a lot of money, so I’m taking on that old adage: “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have”. Sure, I’m getting some resistance from my colleagues, (my current assignment is in a place where “business casual” is the mode of dress), but donning a shirt, tie and dress pants has boosted my confidence.

Here’s an honest to God, truthful story about how just that small decision to “dress up” for work

I spent one lunchtime, last week, out looking for a winter jacket that went with my attire better then the cheap, faux fur-lined WalMart hoodie! As I was perusing the display at the local J C Penney’s, an older lady approached me.

“Excuse me!”

“Yes?” I replied.

“Could you tell me where I can find the ‘Nobo’ stuff?”

I was taken aback, a little, as I’m sure most any of us are, when mistaken for a store employee.

“Er… no, I’m sorry. I don’t work here, I’m just shopping.”

Her response, really floored me.

“Oh! I am sorry,” she said, looking apologetic. “I thought you were the Manager!”

The Manager! Not a Sales Assistant… but the Manager!

I was literally speechless for a moment.

I don’t know if she heard me, but I responded, with a big smile “Oh! That’s quite alright!”

Yes… 2012 is going to be a good year…

Its Never Just A Sport

The teams show their sportsmanship

The teams show their sportsmanship

I was out with DS2, trying to find things to keep him occupied and as I surfed the radio stations I came across the live commentary for the University of Dayton Flyers‘ football game that was in progress. I had found something for us to do for an hour or two!

We arrived almost at the end of the first half and UD were being thrashed, 24-0. The game ended on an INT as time ran out, by the University of San Diego Toreros, that sealed their 31-28 win. It was, as we Brits say, a cracker!

Of course, DS2’s enthusiasm had waned by the start of the 4th quarter, but he did a lot better than I expected, for the bundle of energy he is!

Due to over spill, we were in the Visitors stand, so the enthusiasm I felt building was quelled a little, but all in all, I loved it. It brought back memories of watching Cardiff Tigers at Ninian Park and of watching rugby games at the various stadia in Cardiff.

The highs and the lows. The ecstasies and the agonies.

Oh… and the band. Amazing! I have a feeling that the “band kids” are the ones to party with on campus. They don’t just play their instruments whilst stomping about the field, they dance and sing too. And whilst in the stands, they provided intraplay soundtrack. Black Sabbath’s Iron Man… The Imperial March from the Star Wars movies… their repertoire was varied and vast.

And its all done with smiles a mile wide! *s*

Unfortunately it was UD’s last home game of the season, but next year, I plan on yelling myself hoarse, bedecked in UD paraphernalia, at least once and whilst there I will look about and nod, acknowledging its more than just a sport.

Update 2/7/13:

Hrmph… I had forgotten all about that plan in the last paragraph. Maybe next season!!

September Mourn

Like those stood beside me and the millions around the country also watching the same anchors in the same studios with the same people reporting live in the city, as well as the journalists themselves, the sight of the second ‘plane, seeming to be weaving its way through the Manhattan skyline before hitting the second tower, and the fiery, smoky, dusty aftermath was a surreal time of grief and confusion, fear and shock, anger and hatred.

I stared, with my colleagues, at the horrific scenes live on the screen in front of us. Even the sounds of the production line seemed to fade into silence as we watched. It was one of those moments in time where nothing else matters. It was the same closed off feeling I had kissing my wife-to-be in the airport concourse that first time we met, when all of the world around us melted away and all that was left was us.

Eventually I returned to his desk, feeling empty and unable to explain the hellacious events I had witnessed. Whatever else I did that day, has blurred into nothingness until it was time to depart.

At the parking lot my wife and baby son waited for me. Hugs and kisses and tears were exchanged and then the infrequent, solemn chat during the trip back to our apartment. As soon as we got in, the television was switched on and we, along with everyone else, attempted to make sense of all that was being laid out in front of us, so graphically – the planes; the jumpers; the tons of once important letters and memos swirling in the wind; the choking dust of the collapsing towers; the unreality of it all.

Eventually we found themselves in bed, whispering as we held each other closely, tears falling, fears growing.

Long Time No… Entry!

Well… life is bubbling along, barely on simmer on the back burner.

I’m still actively looking for work, applying to a few places each week, but I don’t seem to be making headway. If I do get any response from an application, its a “Thanks, but…”.

Those responses are particularly annoying because I’m applying for positions that I know I can do or have done in the past. I sometimes think that somewhere out there there’s a black mark against my name that just eliminates me from getting further in the process.

I have been in a bit of a funk these last few months, stemming from this long dark tunnel of job searching, no less. There is a glimmer in the form of having recently signed up to an employment agency, but even that hasn’t produced anything, so far.

I have seven or eight ideas for businesses, but am not sure how to go about starting any of them, especially those that will require an injection of capital. The only real asset we have anymore is our house, which is badly in need of renovating, so the Personal Financial Statement area of Business plans scares the shit out of me and just seeing that page makes me stop.

The plans range from a fully professional rugby team through to an errand running business!

Our house is not about to fall down or anything, but some of the plumbing needs replacing, the place could do with rewiring, the basement needs a full damp-proofing, new windows are probably at the top of the list… you know… just stuff.

We made a big mistake with this house, I think. Circumstances were just against us. Of course, I fell in love with the place because its a couple of lots, of which the empty lot contained a grape vine and there was plenty of space for the kids to run around.

Now, though, they barely ever go outside, especially out back. A wasp nest last summer killed our eldest’s interest in the yard, completely. He was already uneasy about bugs and now, even a midge has him running back inside. Our other son has some interest outside and even helped me sow the vegetable beds some.

The “problems” with the house are enough for me to fantasize that we win the lottery and do our own version of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition or This Old House. The structure is sturdy, though, as the only damage we’ve had to deal with, through all the strong storms we’ve encountered since moving in, in 2005, has been the need to replace the roof shingles. Still, its a roof over our heads.

Which is more than some people in a similar position to us have, right now…

Why Twitter Rocks!

One of the clutch of people who I follow on Twitter, and who are local to me, Shana Douglas, recently tweeted this question:

What’s your favorite thing about Twitter?

As soon as I saw this, I knew my response:

@ShanaDouglas Its a great equalizer and can be an awesome crowd source opportunity.

But what did I mean exactly?

Equalizer

By this, I mean it enables the “everyman” the ability to communicate with those people who we might see to be in some kind of position of celebrity, power and/or respect.

Between my Twitter personas, I have had chats, (ranging from a tweet and a response to a short flow of dialog), on Twitter with the following people:
NY Times’ Tech columnist, David Pogue;
Actor/Author/Gamer/Geek Will Wheaton;
Actor, Brent Spiner;
Actor/Comedian, Bill Cosby;
Singer/Songwriter, Cerys Matthews;
Ex-England rugby star, Will Carling; &;
Ex-England rugby star, now USA Rugby CEO, Nigel Melville.

These are all people who, in the normal course of my day, I would be unlikely to interact with. However, this has also made me feel that if I did see these people in a store or waiting for their Big Mac and coke, I could probably say “Hi!” to them and get a response.

Crowd Source

I was fairly new to Twitter when I saw an online news article about how David Pogue was using Twitter to crowd source a book:

I loved the idea, so I started following him and responded to his requests. Amazingly, I ended up with four entries. I was a confirmed Twitterphile!

I’ve also found myself involved, albeit less actively these past few months, with a wonderful connection for us parents of special needs kids, in Marianne Russo, creator and host of The Coffee Klatch, which is an awesome support network for us parents of special needs children, whether we’re taking part in the Twitter chats or listening to the interviews on Blog Talk Radio. Its so easy to find others who share a situation, hobby or passion on Twitter and with the “Lists” feature, its even easier to keep track of the multitude of people you follow.

So there… that’s a quick look at why I think Twitter rocks!

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