The Rising

phoenixWith apologies to Bruce Springsteen.

During a slow night at work last week, I spent a goodly amount of time reading old posts I’d written here on Life of Ando.  I’d like to say I was reading them with a critical eye, looking for ways to improve as a writer, but really I was just enjoying the sight of my own voice.  That’s just the sort of narcissist I am.  Some of them I really did enjoy.  Others, not so much.

Life of Ando has been in existance for nigh on seven years, if you can believe that, spewing nearly 500 posts onto the unsuspecting webbing public.  There have been many different blog-designs in that time, weekly features come and gone, and myriad YouTube videos posted.  There have been posts considering everything from movies, to religion, to movies and religion, to current events, to Easter candy, to baseball, to baseball, to baseball, to auto repair, to politics, to life in general, and, of course, to the life of Ando, specifically.

When I first started this venture, I’m sure I had delusions of grandeur.  I would wax wise on various and sundry subjects and through the simple retelling of events from my own life would reveal vital heretofore unknown insights into this crazy world of ours.  Oh how silly of me.  Not to say I haven’t unearthed a useful nuggett now and again–by pure hapinstance if nothing else–but my early dreams of a sought out cyber-oasis of wit and wisdom has come up just a tad short.  But that’s ok.  It’s been a fun ride and for a while there, when I posted more than once every couple months, I even had a pretty loyal cadre of readers.

Good grief, it probably sounds like I’m shutting it down!  Nothing could be further from the truth.  On the contrary, consider this the official relaunch of Life of Ando.  There was a time (October 2006) when I posted 25 times in a month.  Since May 2009 I’ve posted that same number of times.  Pretty sad, though in my defense that intervening period was pretty hectic and I have spend a lot of my blogging time elsewhere.

While I’m not going to promise 25 posts in the month, or even 15 or even 10, I am going to strive to post on a somewhat regular basis.  I am a phoenix rising from the ashes.  Or something.  Whatever.

So, if you just haven’t been able to find the sort of hacky drivel that Life of Ando does so well elsewhere, take heart.  Your search is over.  Life of Ando is back and better than ever probably more readable.

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Write Away

I’ll admit freely that the purpose of this post is mostly to prevent me from having my first month of only one post since I started this humble venture over three years ago.  Wow, three years.  Its not wonder I seem to be running out of things to say.  Well, technically that isn’t true.  I’ve just been too lazy to say them.  And that’s all it is really, laziness.  I’ve had some posts in mind but just haven’t felt the urge to write them.  I don’t know why.  Its probably because I have DVR now.  Did you know you can pause, fastforward and rewind live TV?  Incredible.  What a world we live in.

I’m not promising a bushel of posts in the near future and to be honest I’ve considered putting Life of Ando on hiatus for a while, but I’m afraid that may kill it, which I don’t want to do.  We’ll see.  I will try to do one post this weekend, complete with video footage, of a certain two foot tall little girl who has recently taken to bipedal locomotion.  Other than that I can’t make any promises.

So check back this weekend if you really like babies, otherwise keep checking your RSS reader to see if Life of Ando can get back to…well…life.

In the meantime enjoy this commercial for German beer:

These Pretzels Are Making Me Thursday

Greetings faithful Regulars and wayfaring newcomers.  I bring you tidings on this fine September Thursday.  Though my integrity bids me to inform all readers here that I am actually writing to you on a Wednesday, but in all likelihood you will in fact be reading this on a Thursday, especially if you happen to reside in the central timezone and all points East as in a mere few minutes it will already be Thursday there if it isn’t already.

Now that we’ve got that settled….

Maybe its just the fact that I’m only recently emerging from my summer hiatus (or doldrums, depending on how you look at it) but it seems to me that the Life of Ando is getting a bit stale.  Periods of stagnation are to be expected when something has been reasonably well maintained for nearly three years, except for those who are very gifted, a number which does not include myself.  Those who have managed to hold their nose and stick with me for nigh on 391 posts will recall I’ve faced such wastelands before (notably here and here) but have always managed to right the ship, or at least get the ship pointing in the direction it started in.  Whether that was the right direction or not I’ll leave for someone else to judge.

So here we are again.  The wind has died down to a hot, sickly breeze, the ship is listing, and we’re out of grog.  And yet we press on.  Why?  Because we have to, that’s why.  We have to press on for the independent blogger, sitting at his keyboard this very minute, wondering whether or not its all still worth it.  “No one ever comments or links to my posts, all my readers are related to me, my wife doesn’t even read my blog, why should I go on wasting my time?”  For that poor soul we must persevere or the small time blogging spirit will be extinguished forever.  Some of our blogging brethren have already fallen by the wayside.  Which gets me to my real point.

I’ve cleaned up some of my blogroll links.  I held on to a few dead blogs just for the sake of padding my blogroll, but I was having a difficult time looking myself in the eye (especially since I don’t own a mirror) and the time had finally come to cut loose the quitters.  So, so long Reluctant Fundie.  Sayonara, Bruce Glidewell’s blog.  Adios, Chronicles of Kuhnerdom, we barely knew thee.  There are a couple more that are lingering by a thread but if they don’t get to steppin’ in the near future they’ll be kicked to the curb as well.  I have added some new links to blogs that are in fact very active and that I actually read.  Most are history related, for whatever that’s worth to you.

In the coming days and weeks I’ll hopefully be adding some other items to my space (not Myspace) here to spruce things up.  Just eye-catching accoutraments really, nothing of any real substance.  The true substance of the blog, the posts, will, I’m sorry to have to say, be much as it has been these 2+ years.  For that, I apologize.

In the meantime, feel free to let me know what you might like to see here and what would keep you coming back and commenting.  Content, nifty sidebar widgets, a “file not found” message, anything.  Leave a comment on this post or in the Suggestion Box at the top of the page.  I love input.

Before you make your rough draft of the list you’re going to send me, take a break and check out this post.  Part of me wants to scream “NERD!” and part of me wishes I thought of this.  Ok, all of me wishes I thought of this.  Shout out to Blog 4 History, where I found the link.

Don’t Use Your Books For Kindle(ing)

I was going to begin this post with the phrase, “When I was in college,” but I thought that would be disengenuous since it implies that I did in fact graduate from a four year college or university with a degree of some sort.  While its true that I am in posession of a degree of some sort, an Associates of Arts in (try not to laugh) Communications, that isn’t typically what comes to mind when someone references their time spent at an institute of higher learning, as esteemed as the Santa Rosa Junior College may be (after all, it does have ivy covered brick buildings).  And technicaly speaking, I still am in college, still in my ongoing pursuit of that elusive BA in History.  So to say “when I was in college” I feel would mislead the reader, you, and damage any shred of credibility I may have had remaining.  Of course, this little digression probably severed that last shred anyway, so really what’s the point?

Now, what was I going to say?  Oh yes….

My first semester at the two-year junior college I atteneded, into which I crammed a solid four years, I took a class on mass communications.  My main reason for taking the class was that the course description in the catalog seemed to imply that it involved a good deal of movie and TV watching and analyzing of the same.  I did pretty well, except that since it was my first class of the day, I often arrived late.  It was when grades came out that first semester that I discovered that college professors aren’t like high school teachers and won’t sent a note home to mommy and daddy alerting them to your tardiness, thereby initiating corrective parental action in the interest of saving your grade.  The second time I took the class I was in the throes of what I like to call my Educational Dark Period.  This time around I had a different teacher, one who had a very different interprataion than my previous one of what the course should be.  A lot less TV watching, and a lot more reading and thinking.  I was not prepared for this.  The third and final time I took the course, in the dawn of what I like to call my Educational Awakening, I had the same teacher as the first time, took the class in the afternoon, and was mentally prepared for anything.  I got a B.

Somewhere in all or parts of those three tries, we discussed the message and the medium of modern communicaiton.  Quick communicaitons lesson, the message is the content (news, information, etc.), the medium is how we access it (newspaper, TV, internet, etc.).  In 1964 a guy named Marshall McLuhan wrote a book called Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, in which he posits that, to quote his famous phrase, “The medium is the message.”  I won’t go into any more details of his theories, but that phrase is interesting in and of itself and I think is more true now than ever.  In the early days of TV there wasn’t much by way of content.  But who needs content?  There’s a magic picture box in my living room!  Even before content finally became systematic and more sophisticated the television itself, the medium, had changed the culture.  People stayed in, they started eating their meals in front of the tube, hello TV dinners and TV trays.  It had a significant impact on the culture.  The same can be said of virtually every new innovation in mediums since:  audio tape, compact discs, the Internet, mobile phones, everything.

In the New York Times last week, columnist David Brooks wrote an interesting article that is sort of related to this.  In a “Dear Abbey” type format, he traces the history of what he calls cultural one-upsmanship.  Whereas, the heights of the cultural totem pole were, for centuries, things like the opera, literature, poetry and the like, since the 1960’s there has been a change.  Now the totem toppers are those with the newest generation iPhones (that’s not a slam on you, dad, especially since you’re giving me your iPod :]).  The iPhone, and mobile phones in general, have had, and are having, nearly as great a cultural impact as the TV, maybe even equal to.  Think in terms of politics.  Couple the Internet with everyone’s cell phone video cameras, and politicians have to be more cautious then ever about what they say, even in what before would have been considered “safe” environments.

One new media related techno doohicky that is causing a stir right now is the Kindle from Amazon.com.  It’s basically an electronic book.  Or more like an electronic library that’s the size of a book.  You can check out more about it here.  I think it has the potential to be the “next big thing.”  A medium that can have the kind of cultural impact of the TV.  Or it could go the way of BetaMax and Laser Disc; a few early adopting zealots, but no mass appeal.  We’ll have to wait and see on that one.

I bring up the Kindle because I have heard many Old Media folks (print journalists, novelists, people over 40) lament its inception.  “Nothing beats the feel of wood pulp between your fingers and the musty smell of a real to life book,” they say.  “Who wants to curl up by the fire with a miniature computer monitor?  Not I,” say the aged.  I’m not totally discounting their feelings, but that kind of talk smacks of Not Like the Good Old Days faux-nostalgia.  Like those people who say they miss their old ’53 DeSoto.  Do they really?  It might be a nice thought, but remember how you used to have to start it 20 minutes before you actually wanted to drive it just so it would warm up?  It might be nice for the occasional Sunday drive, but not for everyday.  I love books as much as anybody, to the point where I’ve been repeatedly forbidden to buy anymore until I finish the ones already on my shelf.  But if I had a Kindle I wouldn’t need that shelf, would I?  So in a kind of reversal, its the older folks that are clinging to the medium, rather than the message.

To wrap up this already too long post on things that probably don’t interest you, I will recount one last, very topical story that is especially appropriate given the first part of this sentance.  I was listening to KNBR sports talk radio the other day and the host, Ralph Barbieri, was deriding bloggers as a group, though specifically sports bloggers.  He said something along the lines of, “Who do bloggers think they are anyway and doesn’t there have to be a hefty dose of narcissism involved for them to think that anybody cares what they have to say?”  Besides the obvious irony of a sports talk radio host musing on who is qualified to offer an opinion up for public consumption, the comment struck me as paranoid and a little old-fogy-ish.  He was denegrating a group that basically does the same thing he does, just using a different medium; internet versus radio.  Using sports talk may not be the best example for the point I’m trying, poorly, to make, but it dovetailed nicely with the Brooks article and the ongoing backlash to the New Media by the leery Old Media establishment.

Ok, next time I promise something more fun.

It’s A Sickness

As if I wasn’t bad enough, I’ve initiated yet another blog.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ando Photo.  It’s a place where I’ll occasionaly post a picture, either that I’ve taken or found elsewhere, that I am fond of.  Usually it probably won’t be accompianed by any commentary, just the photo.  I don’t know how often I’ll post, maybe once week.  Maybe twice.  Maybe more.  Who knows?  There’s eight or nine posts up there now so check it out and enjoy.

Speaking of Baseball…

An old friend of mine who writes for the official unofficial Oakland A’s blog, Athletics Nation, asked me last week if I’d be interested in writing a piece for them about the recent injuries to Angels pitchers John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar and how an Angels fan views them affecting their division title hopes.  I of course accepted the assignment.  Not only as an Angels fan, but as a blogger.  I’m worldly wise enough to know that my Life of Ando readership is, for the most part, limited to friends and family, which I am totally fine with.  Being the case, I am unlikely to get any real criticism because usually your friends and family like to say nice and encouraging things about you, especially if you attempt anything creative (If this has not been your experience, you may want to consider finding new friends and family).  That’s all well and good, and believe me it is very appreciated, but at some point its good to get an outsiders opinion.  So besides a chance to write about my favorite baseball team in the whole, wide world, this also gives me an opportunity to see what complete strangers think about what I have to say.  Not that I’m expecting any real journalistic critique, but even a “that was good” or a “wow, you sound like a sixth grader” could serve the learning process.

 The post will be going up sometime this week, I’m submitting it today, and I’ll be sure to post a link to it here when it is.  I’ve been incessantly tweaking and obsessing over it the last few days and admit I’ve got butterflies.  Wish me luck!