It’s my birthday. I’m taking the day off.
But don’t worry, I took pictures.
It’s my birthday. I’m taking the day off.
But don’t worry, I took pictures.
Tomorrow is National Tartan Day! It’s only been in the last 6 years that I’ve even had a tartan! Okay, I don’t actually own any tartan, but my adopted family is Irish/Native American, so we didn’t have one. Then, in 2005 I had some DNA testing done and found out that my family traces back to Norway, and, after more research on the databases (of people I matched DNA with) and the DNA forums, I found that my family name is probably Gillespie. The Gillespies don’t have a “Clan” of their own, but we have a clan affiliation with Clan MacPherson (apparently my ancestors mowed the grass on their ancestor’s golf course, so they let us have some perks), and thus this is our tartan as well:
There are several different tartans for each clan, for different occasions, but this is the one I liked best.
But anyway: I have a tartan! Happy Tartan Day!
You probably don’t remember what you were doing exactly 6 years ago, but that’s because you weren’t lying in a hospital ICU bed freshly missing half a lung — which is what I was doing on this night in 2006. My wife also remembers where she was: In the emergency room of that same hospital, because she fainted at my bedside just moments after being allowed in to see me, and had somehow broken her leg in the process. We’re both better now, but it was touch and go at the time.
My gallery of memories of that time of my life is here.
Nine years ago tonight I took the blogging plunge … and, well, it was an entirely different blogosphere. Back in 2002, blogging was just a stampede of dorks who finally had an outlet for all of our dorky thoughts. We huddled together on sites like Mandarin Design (here’s an archive of the site, since, sadly, Meg passed away in 2006) for HTML and graphics tips, and traded links and idea. Desperate for anything to feed our blogs’ daily cravings for content, we took pictures of our lunches and clothes and lawnmowers and TV screens and neighborhoods (and actually had to hook our cameras up to our computers to transfer the pictures!), and in the process, ended up giving the world a glimpse into our lives. Photo and video sites sprung up to help house some of this content, until finally social networking came into its own. Anybody who wants to do what we were doing in the early days of blogging (which was just a page for general expression) can do it any number of way, but usually just Facebook and Twitter, but also Flickr, YouTube, Instagram, FourSquare, and on and on.
And now, here we are, on the cusp of 2012, and blogging isn’t what it used to be. If somebody these days identifies themselves as a blogger, they’re usually focused on a topic — and an agenda, be it profit or propoganda. The word has become synonymous with Gawker and Gizmodo and Huffington Post — sanitized, soulless, bloodless, professional, churned out several times a day by people you’ll never chat with. The Wild West Frontier of blogging is over, but I like to think that there’s a little of blogger spirit in everybody that posts on Facebook every day.
And even corporations are catching on: The national company I work for started an internal social network a couple of months ago, where each employee can start a “blog” of sorts, so today, on the ninth anniversary of this blog, I started my blog, and thus launched myself into our corporate blogosphere, and immediately felt the familiarity rush over me, like I was once again behind the wheel of a machine that had years ago become an extension of myself.
So look out, Corporate Social Network: The Bryk is back.
And for the future of BrykMantra.com, I resolve in the coming year to better integrate my blog into my other social sites and media projects (and vice versa). For starters, I think that surely there must be a way to have my Facebook posts automatically publish to WordPress, or the other way around … anybody out there know how to do this? Anyway, I’ll find a way to harness all the energies I’ve got going on, and then … well, I don’t know what then, but I figure that out when it happens.
And in closing, I don’t think I can say it better than I did last year:
Yes, it was eight years ago that I started my blog on Blogspot: I wrote an initial post that was something like, “I started a blog! I’ll post more tomorrow”, then I went to the local laundromat to dry my wife’s beauty shop towels (our dryer was on the fritz). While at the laundry, I hand-wrote a two-page post (while fighting against carpal tunnel syndrome), which I typed in and posted the next day.
It was a humble beginning, but the start of a major phase in my life. That next year, 2003, was when blogging really began to take off (Bloggers were named People of the Year by ABC News), and I was there on the ground floor. I had readers from all over the world, I made several friends among my fellow bloggers, at least four of whom (Gigglechick, RennyBA, Pamibe, Kim Novak) I’m still in contact with (mostly through Facebook), and I even got some measure of recognition for my blogging. More importantly, I felt part of a huge movement that was bringing the power mass communication to everyday people.
Now, though, the Golden Age of blogging is over, replaced by the shallower but more pervasive medium of social networking. I still keep my blog around, partly to anchor what I like to call the Brykmantra Content Network — my videos, photos and music — and partly as a base through which to channel a feed of my social networking posts.
A lot has happened in the eight years since I started blogging: The tumor and its removal, my establishinment of the brykMantra.com domain in 2005, the beginning of my ventures into music, the loss of three dogs and the acquisition of the two we have now, my job loss and subsequent new career (such as it is), and, most recemtly, my struggles with a detached retina. And, through it all, I have a record of my thoughts for each event.
And that alone makes it all worth it.
PS: Just in case I don’t get my Facebook page channeled through here, you can check it out here.
Today is the 40th anniversary of the big huge devastating May 11 Lubbock Tornado. More importantly, it’s the 30th anniversary of the 10-year disaster commemoration concert: Tornado Jam, starring Joe Ely, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and … um … lots of other people … in Buddy Holly Park. And I was there! As I recall, my date was a girl who didn’t much like me, and who I didn’t see much after that, which was pretty much the story of my dating life (especially when it came to big events) back then, just like the Chicago concert my senior year in high school. But I digress: Watch the video! Maybe you’ll see me in the background somewhere …
Yes, it was seven years ago tonight, back in that medieval year of 2002, that I first started a blog, back when 80% of the country had no idea what a blog was.
Oh, those were heady times for us brave pioneers! Networking with other foolhardy cyberdiarists, catching a glimpse of our blog names in a screen shot of a blogroll on local TV news, trying to explain to clueless coworkers and family just exactly what a blog is, posting every stupid little thought that popped into our heads (but without the competition of half the country like on Twitter these days).
Yes, it was almost exactly a year after I started my blog that ABC News named Bloggers their Person of the Year; coincidence? Oh, sure, keep telling yourself that.
My blog was originally on Blogspot, which apparently got hungry and ate the thing, but you can still download my archives in their entirety from a link in my sidebar on the right.
But of course, blogging is passe now, replaced by “tweeting” and “status updates” and “life”. Even I have my Twitter & Facebook & Blip.fm posts funneled into my sidebar here, but I still keep this blog as a central hub for my domain name and blogroll, and of course my “content network”: Original music, photography, video, t-shirts, etc etc etc, plus my own Twitter posts (“tweets” will someday be looked upon as one of the most idiotic words of the early 21st century) and Facebook updates.
Still, it was extremely worthwhile for me to have a blog. It finally gave me daily practice in writing and web page creation skills (HTML and graphics, for instance), opened up several new friendships and networking opporunities, and provides me with a written history of my life for most of that time.
Bonus points: It also gave me a nagging sense of superiority for the first time in my life, as well as bragging rights and a notch on my resume.
One of the most interesting things about blogging was that most of the people reading my personal little blips and rants were all over the country, and even the world. My own family and coworkers were never that interested in my blog, and most of them only read it after they deliberately did something stupid that they knew would tick me off.
THEN they would read it, to see if I was griping about them, but only temporarily.
But seven years is a long time, and the MantraSphere (i.e., my life) is a vastly different place that it was back then.
Probably the biggest event in those intervening years was the discovery, in early 2006, that the bronchitis and pneumonia that I’ve suffered from all my life was caused by a neuroendocrine tumor in my right lung — a tumor which began before I was even born and had grown to 5 centimeters in diameter.
So, long story short, after teetering on the brink of death from pneumonia and losing half a lung to surgery to remove the tumor, and after a long recovery process (mostly because of the havoc that the surgery wreaked on my back and ribcage), I’m now in better health than ever, and haven’t even had bronchitis or a serious sinus infection (much less pneumonia) ever since.
The second biggest change from back then is that I have finally made good on my long-time threat to compose and record music, even being one of the winners of a local music contest this past October! (Did I fail to mention that? Hey, I announced it on Facebook and it showed up in my sidebar. Keep up.)
But you can listen to my music on AloneTone (for free! And get free downloads and ringtones! For free!)
So do that, won’t you?
And there are more changes, but for now, I have to cut this short so I can go DJ in Second Life (another change! Huzzah!).
… in which we Americans kick off the holiday season with the traditional Stuffing of the Face.
I hope you’ll pause a moment and feel lucky to have what you have, and realize that there were times in your life when you didn’t have it so good.
For instance: Earlier this week, I bought a pecan pie, as required by Texas law, and today, my wife’s customers at the beauty shop gave her THREE more pies — which makes us a four-pie family this holiday.
For which I am thankful.
And this year I have a job which just keeps getting better, and I’m also getting better at my music projects, and my wife and I just celebrated 13 years of marriage, and we have two beautiful and hilarious doggies, and we have an appreciation of life and the arts and entertainment.
And a lot of people don’t.
So look around you and like it.
Feels good, right?
I’ve mentioned this guy before, so you know the drill by now: Up-and-coming country singer Jake Kellen, I went to high school with his mom and his uncle (who is also his producer), I went to college with the guy who financed his first album, blah blah blah.
Anyway, Jake has a new album coming out, and here’s the video for his first single!
The Blues isn’t my favorite musical genre, but I have a new favorite workout song: The Blues Brothers’ Sweet Home Chicago! Check it out, especially the killer trombone solo that starts at 3:57:
That solo is true vindication for everyone who was a trombone geek in high school.
Like, um, me.
I got some sad news yesterday: My mom’s next-door neighbor — a guy from my graduating class — was found dead in his house, apparently from a heart attack.
It was very sudden. He had had friends over earlier in the evening, and they had left thinking he was fine.
Just shows you can never tell.
This also marks the first death in our graduating class, which left high school 36 years ago this month. Other people in the class have passed on, but none of them actually *graduated* with us. Of course, there were only 44 people in our graduating class, but still, that’s a long time to have everybody still alive, especially since three of us have had cancer.
I was starting to think that OHS Class of ’73 was invincible, but apparently I was wrong.
Now I’m bummed.