The Blogs, They Are A Changing

Some time this year bRight & Early will turn nine. The earliest post I still have is “Making book on filibuster detente” from May 24, 2005. That story talks about the “Gang of 14″ (the first of many misguided congressional gangs) and the compromise on judicial nominations. I guess that means that, politically, not much has changed.

The same can’t be said for blogs and blogging. Here’s a look back through my imperfect memory. (Feel free to correct and remind me in the comments.)


Predating this humble effort, many of the earliest blogs were hand written, hard-coded, html web pages. In some ways it was like the early days of the automobile – you couldn’t just drive the car, you had to be a mechanic as well. WordPress came along in 2003, and competed with several other blogging platforms. When I switched from blogger (a free blog hosting site) to my own domain (and finally to this domain) there was a bit of friendly bantering regarding which platform was best. Today, ten of the top 20 blogs use WordPress. I have been using WordPress from version 1.5, through 18 versions and an unknown number of sub-versions, to version 3.8 and counting.

In those early days you read a blog in one way – on your desktop computer. Laptops were rare, while tablets and smart phones didn’t even exist. The software, in many cases, had to catch up with the hardware available to read the blogs. Today most blogs are optimized for reading on any platform.


In the late 90’s and early 00’s blogs were new and quite novel. Our competition was one another. Traditional media – newspapers, television, and magazines – were still discovering the power of an online presence. It’s quite different today. I can’t imagine there are many of those traditional outlets that don’t have an internet compliment to their original content.

Today the big boys blog. They have to. Much maligned bloggers (sitting in their parent’s basement in pajamas, so they’d like you to believe) scooped their professional counterparts too often to be ignored. I truly believe it has been a case of, “if you can’t beat them, join them”. Or perhaps more accurately, if you can’t beat them outspend, absorb, or co-opt them. Note: I don’t mean to imply that anyone abandoned their principles by joining or switching to these larger, more traditional outlets, only that they moved away from being lone, non-commercial, individual bloggers to being part of “something else” with it’s pros and cons.


One of the byproducts of being a blogger in the “olden days” was a true sense of camaraderie. Early bloggers, particularly those with similar interests, ideologies and perspectives, all “knew” one another. There weren’t that many of us. I can’t imagine that I would have had the privilege to interact with people like Wyatt Earp, Ed Morrissey (I still miss Captain’s Quarters), John Hawkins, Michelle Malkin, David Limbaugh, Ace, Chris Muir, Sister Toldjah, Fausta, William Teach, and many others, outside of blogging. I’ve only met two of the people on this list – Wyatt Earp and David Limbaugh – Still, I do feel as if I know many of them.

We depended on each other back in the wild blogging west. We shared stories, ideas, credit, and the all important “link love”. Blogrolls, links to other like-minded sites, were at one time the main source of advertising your own efforts. To be included on the rolls of any of the “bigger” blogs was considered quite a coup.

To be linked by those more trafficked sites could make your day in way that pay could hardly match (while often straining your host’s ability to keep up). It even received it’s own term – Instalanche:

In the blogsphere, this is similar to being Slashdotted, it refers to an increase in traffic after a popular site has linked to your. The original reference was to InstaPundit.

Content and Quality

Content was, and still is, king. The novelty of some “common” person putting their thoughts and observations out there for anyone to read was quickly replaced by the demand that the composition be interesting, informative, entertaining, and well written. That hasn’t changed, but what has evolved, in many cases, the style, quality, and format of what is written.

Many bloggers started by using the sincerest form of flattery. In other words, we saw what others were doing and we tried to do it too. I’m sure my story is pretty typical of many early bloggers. I first heard about blogging from a local conservative morning talk radio announcer. After hearing him say several times to, “check out his blog” I did. My response was the same as many of the early bloggers – I can do that. Making that decision is fairly easy, setting up your own blog on one of the free sites isn’t much harder. The hard part comes when you have to decide what you are going to write about. I realized right away that nearly all writers focus on a single topic or area of interest. That’s not to say they can’t, or won’t, write about other things they are passionate about, but the bulk of what they write tends to cover a narrow beam. For me, conservative politics seemed that natural way to go, so that choice was made.

Writing wasn’t “my thing” back in high school (sorry Mrs. Smoot and Mrs. DellaPorta) or college, although I did better when I took some classes later on. There are no entrance requirements for blogging. In many ways it’s like what they say about golf and sex – you don’t have to be good to enjoy it. You do have to be good enough. Good enough for readers to stick around long enough to get to the end of a story. Good enough for people to come back, comment, and share what you’ve written. One side benefit to blogging, at least in my case, is that the simple act of trying to write better helps you to improve as a writer. I know in my work life that blogging has helped improve everything from simple emails to important reports.


There is a wide range of blogging styles, influenced by the topic, the writer’s goal (to inform, influence, or entertain) and their personal preferences. And while there are no hard and fast rules regarding blogging style, most writers do tend to fall into a few broad types.

  • Link ‘em and leave ‘em – Or, the Instapundit style. Glenn Reynolds is the master of this, “often imitated, never duplicated” style. It’s just a word, a sentence, or a paragraph and a link. You would think that this style would be easy to duplicate, but two points stick out as to why that isn’t so – the volume of post (dozens a day) and the ability in those few brief words to compel you to read the linked story.
  • Setup, Quote, Comment – This is probably the most common style for bloggers, especially political bloggers. A sentence or paragraph sets up the story to be quoted, a quote from another source, then commentary on that story. The majority of my posts here have been in this style.
  • Long Form – These take a longer approach to a story. They can quote other sources, or consist entirely of original writing. This seems to be the rarest style, at least among the blogs that I read.


I set out at the beginning of this piece to describe the changing world of blogging, but at the core it has really been an exercise in looking at what I am doing and what I am going to do here in the future. My goal for this blog, in the beginning, was to post often with the latest breaking stories. At one time that was sort of possible, but job changes and other factors have made that difficult at best. I have also realized that I don’t have the sources, or resources, to find those stories that no one else has found. To be honest, a degree of political cynicism has set in as well. That’s not to say that my political view-point has changed, I am still as conservatively minded as ever. It’s more a matter of understanding that my self-assigned role is not that of story breaker.

The short version is that I am out of the breaking news business and will concentrate more on longer pieces, observations, and my personal take on things. I do still want to post more often and more consistently. We’ll have to see about that. I welcome your thoughts.

Insignificantly Significant

Dead ComputerThis may not be the most important post of the day, and in the greater scheme of things I realize that my computer issues are small potatoes. On the other hand, it’s important to me. The computer I had been using was a gift from my old boss, and it was a nice one. I could run anything at any speed and even games on high settings. That was the first thing to go. At first it was the ability to run anything graphically intense. It wouldn’t just stop working, it would shut the computer OFF. No BSOD, just off, as in hit the button and turn it back on again off. That was OK, I was spending too much time playing WoW anyhow.

Then it started getting harder to start – I had to use two keyboards to get it started, one an old PS2 keyboard, because the system wouldn’t recognize the USB keyboard until it was past the boot options. Now it won’t even do that.

computer repairSo, I have someone taking a look at it, and they’re having as much trouble as I was. Lovely. Now there is still some hope (I am an eternal optimist) that he will be able to get things up and running again. Or not.

In the meantime I am trying to work on this old computer we got for a few bucks off of Craigslist. This isn’t a complaint, but we got what we paid for – A 2.6ghz Celeron processor, and Windows XP. So, does anyone out there want to pitch in?

Olimometer 2.52

If you can…

Happy Birthday!

Tempus fugit — Most often we translate this as “time flies” but the literal translation is “time flees”. The idea is the same, our lives, and the events that mark them, go by quickly — often surprising us when we do take notice.

Kristy and me Thirty years ago today I received the greatest blessing of my life when my daughter Kristy was born. It is hard to believe that it has been that long (and that I am that old). I can sit here and bring back many memories in my mind — big, important events and small, seemingly insignificant moments. I can remember a little girl still in diapers helping me work on our old Volkswagen and the beautiful young woman walking across the stage to receive her high school diploma. I remember long trips, just the two of us, and the movie we wrote in our minds. I am so proud of her and feel so much love for her that I want to express it here.


I cannot think about you without feeling overwhelmed with joy and love. You are the brightest point in my life and I want you to know that I love you and think about you every day. I am so very proud of you. When I look at your life, the love you show your family and friends, the things that you’ve achieved, and the person you’ve become, it makes me happier than I deserve. I hope and pray that you are happy and that you know how much you are loved.

There is sadness, too. I have made too many mistakes and allowed too many missed opportunities. The blame for that is all on me. I hurts to think about the many things I could have done better, but today isn’t a day to dwell on those thoughts. I can only hope that you can forgive my many shortcomings.

Happy Birthday, Sweetie. I hope that you have as much joy, happiness, and love in your life that you’ve brought to mine. Cherish every moment of your life and let those you love know it. Take pride in who you are, but be humble and thankful for how God has blessed you. You might remember talking about what I call my philosophy of life — “Always be content, never be satisfied.” I hope you remember what that means; be happy where you are now, but always strive to be better. Know that I pray for you, think about you, but most of all love you more than anything.

All my love, Dad

Happy New Year (and goodbye 2013)

Good Bye 2013As you can see from the image accompanying this post, I am not particularly sad to see 2013 in the rear view mirror. Mostly that’s due to three months of being unemployed. But with 2013 behind us it is time to look forward. New Year’s Day is a great day for an optimist, and I am still that.

First, the Jim Lynch Theory of Time Relativity: Many people notice as they age that the years seem to go by more quickly as each one passes. I believe that I have figured out why that is. Follow along. When you are one year old a year takes an entire lifetime. When you’re ten a year only takes one tenth of a lifetime. A little over a month ago I turned 58. For me, a year only takes one 58th of a lifetime! Tempus Fugit!

Tampa Bay Times Forum #GOP2012It seems as if so little time has gone by since I posted about volunteering to work at the 2012 GOP Convention in Tampa, while in reality we are closer to the 2014 mid-terms than we are to that event. As an optimist I’d like to say I’m looking forward to these elections, but there is a part of me that harbors two fears: 1) Are there enough voters left in America who understand the issues and the consequences and will get out and vote accordingly? 2) Are there enough good, solid, conservative candidates running who will communicate effectively and then stand by their principles once elected. I pray that the answer to both questions is, “yes”.

People of all ideologies are fed up with Washington, and rightly so. But change, if it is to happen, will only occur if people understand the importance of our republican (small “R”) form of government. As we enter 2014 let’s stop brushing off the actions of our elected officials as something “they” did in DC, or our state capital and insist to our representatives, the media, our neighbors, and our friends that the people we’ve put in office were elected by us, work for us, and answer to us.

Politics aside, there are many reasons to be optimistic on the first day of a new year. 2014 has no history at this moment. It will be what we, as individuals, make of it. I can only encourage you to make the most of it that you possibly can. But I, an individual created and blessed by God, can pray and work and strive to make this year a great one in my life. I remember hearing long ago that I can only control two things in my life – my attitude and my actions. Everything. EVERYTHING else is beyond my control. But man, what I can do with those two things.

I hope that you have a great, happy, and blessed new year. Take what you’ve been given and make the most of it.

Happy New Year!

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

It’s back to work I go!

After ninety days as an unemployment statistic I am back at work! In fact, I started with orientation on Tuesday. After being off yesterday my regular training starts today.

LEGOLAND EntranceI will be working in the call center for Merlin Entertainments at LEGOLAND® Florida. Our center, as I understand it so far, takes calls for all of the Merlin venues in the US.

I have a few observations regarding my time between jobs.

  • Most of all I have to say that looking for work is harder than working. One simple fact is that there are more people applying for the positions I was interested in then there are openings. I am very upbeat regarding my skills, work ethic, and qualifications for any position for which I applied. To submit the dozens of applications and inquiries that I did and not even get a response was very eye opening. I had to remind myself that many qualified people were also applying for these jobs.
  • Being unemployed is not a vacation. When I wasn’t scouring the internet for available positions I was building my contacts and networking. When I wasn’t doing something job hunt related I felt like I should be. It’s hard to relax when you are thinking that there may be a job out there that you could be missing by not finding it soon enough.
  • I wrote that being unemployed was going to make me a full-time blogger. Well, it didn’t. I couldn’t concentrate or focus on blog topics. I found it difficult to write or research, or even read what others were writing, mostly for the reasons mentioned above. I dreamed that having all that free time would allow me to post several times a day, but every time I tried to start, the job search demon came out to play with my mind.
  • My first job was working at the plant nursery of a family friend when I was about ten. We weeded, planted saplings, and tried to tell elephant and knock-knock jokes to the immigrant workers using a mix of English, pidgin Spanish, and hand gestures. I think they were laughing at our efforts, and not the jokes. In the nearly 50 years since that time I have rarely been out of work. I held jobs while I was in High School and College. I had a new job lined up before leaving an old one. I would estimate that I have been without a job less than twelve months since leaving college in 1977 until now. And that includes a stretch of seven months when I stayed home on purpose and the current three-month period. That’s around 10,000 days working even if you subtract days off, vacations, and unemployment!

    I take pride in my work ethic. I’ve rarely missed days (when I was employed) for any reason. That’s a hard habit to break. Sure, the first couple of days are great. You can sleep in (I still woke up around six), get projects done around the house (until guilt pulls you back to one more job search), and take some time to relax (see previous comment). In short, after the first week I was stir crazy. I can only hope that retirement, without the specter of, “I should be doing something,” will be more enjoyable.

One of the most exciting things about my new venture is that LEGOLAND was one of my top three employer choices.

I’ve followed the progress of the park since they announced in January of 2010 that they were coming to the former Cypress Gardens – twenty-two months before they opened. And while my job will involve all of the Merlin attractions in the US (did you know they run Madame Tussauds, Sea Life Aquariums, and three “Eyes” – you’ve seen the London Eye, I’m sure) I will go to work every day surrounded by millions of LEGO bricks. What kid, even a 58-year-old one, wouldn’t love that?

Writing this has been easier than any attempt of made in the last three months. I’d love to write more, but…I’VE GOT TO GET READY FOR WORK!!!

God Speed George Roper

The conservative blogosphere lost a truly good friend yesterday with the passing of George (GM) Roper. His wife and daughter posted this on his Facebook page.

To all of George’s Facebook friends:

This is a post by his daughter, Jennifer, and wife, Norma. We are sorry to have to say it this way and we are sure that some of you deserve a call, but we are unable.

George passed away this morning, shortly after 6 AM. We are devastated by the loss, but know that it was his time to go home to God.

Memorial services will be held at Kreidler Funeral Home in McAllen, Texas on Saturday, November 30th at 11:00 AM.

George had been battling leukemia in recent months after beating lung cancer previously (he was a non-smoker).

I never had the opportunity to meet George in person, but I did have many occasions to correspond with him by email or online. It was always a pleasure. I found him to be kind, helpful, and insightful with a great love for his family and his country.

My prayers go out to his family and his many online friends. God Speed.

Full Time Blogger

For the first time in almost seven years I’ve gone from Monday to Friday, and while I’m not sick, it’s not a holiday, and I’m not taking a vacation, I haven’t gone to work all week. I guess that means that, until something changes, I’m a full time blogger.

Over the past several months, since the last election actually, I’ve gotten out of the habit of blogging regularly. Not because I’ve become any less passionate about the greatness of our country and the unlimited potential of our experiment. I have grown weary of the people, our fellow citizens, who have descended into a mindset of “What are you going to give me?” And to be honest, there is a part of me that questions whether there are enough people left who care about our country or if we’ve reached a critical mass of looters.

It’s not merely the economic looters, those wanting the government to provide their every need. What bothers me more are the social looters; those who feel entitled to offend but never be offended, to dictate to others but never be held accountable for their own actions. Are we too far gone?

Yes, this is rambling. I’ve got a lot on my mind. Perhaps I can put some more coherent thoughts down soon. After all, I am a full time blogger now.

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