01/19/09 03:10 PM: I know, I know
I haven’t updated here since the day before the election. I was pretty close with my electoral predictions (within 1% and 1 EV). But anyhow, that’s all in the past.
I’ll be making a larger post to mark tomorrow’s occasion. I cannot believe that it’s been eight years since George W. Bush was sworn in as the 43rd President of the United States.
At 12:01 PM tomorrow, this web site will have outlasted the presidency of Bush. So let’s hope the server makes it through the next 20 hours or so.
09/17/08 09:23 AM: The Dilemma of the Blog
I was reading this post yesterday, and it got me thinking about the purpose of a blog.
I started my first “blog” back in 1999, before I knew what a blog was. It was a simple site, with a backend written in Miva, where I posted links and blurbs about things I was interested in. It even had Miva-powered comments! If you ask me to recall how to even write “Hello world!” in Miva, I won’t be able to tell you.
Anyhow, when I launched whichwayup.org in 2001, it wasn’t simply with the purpose of being a “blog.”
I’m going to differentiate here between the word “blog” circa 2001, and Blog, present day. Today there are more Blogs than ever, many of them located on free hosting services such as Blogger or Typepad, etc, etc. Many people write very anonymously, often never giving away more than a first name or initial. This is completely different than what I was accustomed to when I started this site.
I was used to the idea of a blog being a personal web site of, well, a specific person. It was more than just a blog, the weblog was a portion (often the primary portion) of a person’s web site. The author would try to convey aspects of their personality through the site—and not just with the weblog. Subtle things such as the layout and typography, or the artwork/photography that went a long with the text… it all established a very personal presence on the Internet.
As such, you read a person’s blog… you were interested in what this person had to say, and you were curious as to what else they were interested in. Maybe you read it because they were from the same town as you… or they liked the same kind of music, or you actually knew them in real life. Or maybe you stumbled upon it and just became fascinated for some reason.
In my own life, I know I’ve ended up meeting people in the real world because of their web presence. A few of my good friends, in fact, resulted from coming across a link to their web site somewhere.
But, it’s different now. Blogs of 2008 are often divided into such niche areas, such as a “wine and food blog of Washington, D.C.” written by anonymous. Perhaps this is because people feel that they should write what they know, or at least write about something they feel they are qualified to write about.
I’ve toyed around with this idea, of writing about something very specific that I have a good deal of knowledge about. But each and every time I try to actually go ahead and do that, I’m very turned off by the idea. I don’t want to tailor my writing to attract an audience, or sell advertising. Sure, if I could manage a very popular home improvement blog, I could probably make some money from it. But I wouldn’t want to limit myself to only writing about that.
So instead, I fall back on the 2001 concept of the blog. That this is a site about Dave Stroup. It is, in a way, a little bit egotistical. Sure, you probably won’t come across this site when searching for any specific term. This isn’t a D.C. blog, or a photography blog, or a design blog. It’s not a wine blog, or a hardware blog.
Instead, it’s my site. I write about D.C. I write about photography. I write about travel, wine, hardware, railroads, design and technology. I write about myself. I’d rather have 20 readers who are interested in what I think, or interested to read my prose… than 500 who come to read something I had to force myself to write.
At the end of the day, the best niche is your own—yourself.
09/05/08 01:04 PM: Hanna
So it looks like Tropical Storm Hanna might become a hurricane any hour now. It’s on track to hit DC sometime tomorrow afternoon/evening, but with Tropical Storm conditions beginning tomorrow morning.
We’re under a Tropical Storm Warning now, with an expected 5-8 inches of rain on Saturday. Wind gusts up to 45 mph, but that could increase (or decrease).
I’m not terribly concerned about it, other than the potential for serious annoyances. Thankfully I don’t live in a low-lying area, or own a house anywhere near the Potomac. I live in an apartment building on a hill… flooding hopefully won’t be too much of a concern. However, the building does have a tendency to leak when it rains a lot… so I might end up with some water damage. I’ll just have to move everything away from the spots that are known to leak and set up buckets and towels. I’m a little concerned about losing electricity, but there’s nothing I can really do to prepare for that other than have flashlights and batteries on hand.
Having grown up in the Midwest, hurricanes were a very foreign concept to me. I remember hearing about them on the news… especially Hurricane Andrew back in the day. It wasn’t until 2005, though, when I experienced my first real hurricane with Isabel.
So we’ll see how we fair with Hanna. It looks like Josephine, if it keeps together, might head up this way as well.
08/28/08 09:12 AM: I'm Back, Again
It’s been over a year since I updated this site, and I’d say that’s probably the fourth or fifth hiatus I’ve gone on in the nearly 8 year history of the site.
In the last year, I mostly dropped off the face of the Internet. Unfortunately this resulted in me losing my registration of my favorite domain name ever, lastgoodcountry.com. I’m contemplating buying lastgoodcountry.org, but we’ll see.
I’m going to revive this site, and potential try to revive Last Good Country at a new domain. I want to get back into writing, or rather I need to get myself back into writing. It’s something I’m good at, and it’s something I absolutely love.
I originally said I wanted this site to outlive the Bush presidency. It looks like that will indeed happen. However, I can’t promise another four years of blogging if McCain wins.
I’ll be updating more soon, but I wanted to let everyone know I am back.
06/06/07 11:32 PM: Lack of updates
I know there has been a recent lack of updates. I’ve been busy getting the first issue of Last Good Country ready to go, and I’ve been working and continuing the job search.
05/16/07 01:05 AM: Design update
So I’ve completed the template, and am working on translating it all over to Textpattern-land. This is proving to be a bit of a headache.
If you want a sneak peek, here’s a glimpse. Nothing is complete yet, and of course none of it works.
Give me some time. I’m also launching a new site in a few weeks. Keep your eyes peeled here.
05/03/07 07:44 PM: Redesign coming
Wow, I swear I typed up an entry about a new site design. I must have overlooked hitting the submit button.
In any case, I’ve been plugging away at a new design for the site. I think it’s coming along well, and I would like to push it live in the next week or so. I’ve got to incorporate all of the proper Textpattern tags and whatnot, so it can actually function. Right now it’s just living as a static HTML mockup. It will be cleaner, more “professional” looking, and will allow me to show off more photography without having to worry about a narrow page width.
I’m hoping that this design will also encourage me to write lengthier, more thoughtful pieces. The new design trumpets increased text readability. I hope that, if anything, my own ability to go and re-read my posts in an easy manner will provide encouragement.
I’m also going to rework the navigation of the archives. I’ve got to do some thinking as far as how that will work, though. So keep your eyes peeled, but I have a feeling nothing will go live until the middle of next week (at the earliest).
02/19/07 03:10 PM: Back from hiatus
My apologies for a recent lack of updates. This past weekend I was volunteering at a conference hosted by my alma mater’s international relations club. It was a good time, and I hardly even noticed I was away from a computer for three days.
I’m still plugging along on a few projects, and am aiming to have a new online portfolio/resume area online within a week or so.
Other than that, not a whole lot to report. I’ll be resuming regular blogging activities, so keep your eyes peeled for some new content. I’m working on a new article about how much I despise reading job postings on Craigslist. Should be a fun read.
02/08/07 11:39 PM: Site design, rebranding
So I’m aiming to launch a new design for whichwayup.org on April 1. It’ll be a much more “professional” looking design, and I will build it from the ground-up. No more altered textpattern templates, this one will be 100% my own. I’ll feel better about it, plus it will look nicer.
A few of the things I’m aiming for with the new design:
1. Fluid width. No more looking tiny at large resolution. WWU has been fixed-width since it’s debut in 2001 (with the exception of a 100% width design that briefly appeared in 2002).
2. Larger font. WWU has always had a small font, and I am getting tired of it. You’ll thank me when you no longer have a headache from reading the site.
3. Larger content area, to allow for posting of larger photos within entries.
Right now those are the priorities, I’m sure more will change as I begin developing.
I am aiming for the design to support Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer 7. If I feel ambitious, I may also try and achieve IE6 parity, but I don’t know. I would really like to encourage everyone who reads the site to get Firefox.
01/21/07 03:20 PM: From the Photo Collection
Sign near Otter Creek Falls in Middlebury, VT