In my almost three years of blogging at ChicagoNow, I’ve seen bloggers come and go for a variety of reasons.  Some certainly move on to bigger and better things.  But others fade away  because…blogging is hard.  The Typepad, WordPress and Universe is littered with hundreds of thousands of abandoned blogs by people who have just given up.   Most of the giving up is  Because blogging is hard work.  I suspect a significant factor is the lack of audience interaction.  It can be frustrating when you feel like no one is reading your posts.

No, this isn’t one of those clichéd post about taking a sabbatical that almost every blogger spits out at one time or another.  Usually when they haven’t written published anything in a while.  I intend to vent my spleen here until the ChicagoNow Powers-That-Be™ pry my blog from my cold but properly manicured fingers.  That said, it isn’t as easy as it looks to hammer out a post after post, and publish consistently enough to keep an audience enticed and entertained.

That’s because Blogging is hard, especially at the professional level.  Yes we are professionals even if we don’t get paid in anything besides likes, shares and warm fuzzies. [Maybe I should refer to it as Commercial Blogging.]

The thing is, every now and again you need some type of connection in the form of feedback (hopefully positive).  At ChicagoNow we are lucky to have the ChicagoNow audience which is backfilled through the Tribune Ecosystem.  We also have a few built-in “warm fuzzies” that help mitigate the loneliness of blogging.


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This Blogger Life

Small rewards help ChicagoNow bloggers fight Blogger Burnout

Life Lessons, Social Maintenance

High School Reunions: I think I’ll sit the next few out

Photo Credit:  Jon Hanson

We have no F-ing clue who these people are Photo Credit: Jon Hanson

According to my Facebook feed this is High School Reunion time. A few years ago, I had to skip my 25th high school reunion because my wife wanted to go to Michigan to see her family. Everyone was going to be in the same place, ironically, because her parents were home for their high school reunion.  I’m not upset or even terrible disappointed at that outcome. In fact, it’s given me the perspective to consider skipping all of the future high school reunions.

My 30 year is coming up in 2017 and while I haven’t ruled it out, I’m fairly confident I won’t bother going.

In Heaven and at High School reunions, most of the interesting people are missing.* While high school was certainly better for me than junior high and grade school, it was a transition point, not an end station. Many people I know peaked in high school or college and then failed to launch.

My high school class started out with 409 members and ended with 217 making it to graduation. I’m not sure why we had such attrition at a Magnet high school that emphasized math and science and recruited/accepted only some of the best and brightest of students in the city. Our gangbanger population was a minority in and of itself.

What is the purpose of having so many reunions, 5 years apart. The 5 year is really just a last chance to hook up with your unrequited HS Crush. The 10 year is traditional, but after that, the next one should be 25 and then after that it’s essentially a Hunger Games version of graduation.

I missed the 5 year reunion because I had to work. Apparently 95% of those 217 had better things to do as well because more friends joined me for drinks afterwards than at the reunion picnic that afternoon.

Someone's unrequited HS Crush Photo Credit: Colin Charles

Someone’s unrequited HS Crush Photo Credit: Colin Charles

I think I skipped the 10 year because I was not in a “brag about your life at reunion” place in my life, although I think whomever was in charge screwed the pooch so to speak and the 10 year didn’t get the momentum you’d expect. It might have been one of those combo year reunions that are more popular: doesn’t matter what year you graduated or if you even graduated at all. Heck if you dated someone from our school for more than a semester, you’re welcomed.

Because of that disaster, I don’t think we held a 15 which is too bad because life was good for me 15 years after graduation. Some of the facts have been subsequently contested, but that was the version I read.

We got together informally for our 20th and a small contingent showed up. This was about 10 minutes before everyone was on FB so it was kinda cool. I even re acquainted with my HS biology lab partner though just like in high school, she disappeared after freshmen year.

The week of our 20th reunion I was changing jobs from the No-Name Software Company to the Low Rent Consulting Firm. So it would have been nice to see everyone and let them know that things have improved a lot. Except with FaceBook, I already am connected to the people I wanted to be — plus I get to avoid the one or two douchebags I would have had to deal with at the reunion.

 * Quote modified with respect to Friedrich Nietzsche


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Like Charlie Daniels, I have resisted speaking out on the Confederate Flag Issue™ until now, because I have a lot of thoughts on this topic and addressing this topic without proper research feels like it would be sticking my head into a hive of angry hornets and why would I want to do that?

First, Our nation’s is apparently in need of a little history clarification. The flag that everyone is all up and arms about is the Battle Flag of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia — aka the Confederate Battle Flag. The CBF was the war banner of the Confederate States of America, a defunct nation that existed for a little less than four years. It is not the “stars and bars.” The Stars and Bars refers to the first official flag of the Confederacy.

Oh heck, just watch this video from CGP Grey — he explains the differences better than I ever could.

Next, the flag in question apparently represents one thing to some people and another thing to others.

When I visited in-laws in Mississippi a few years ago, I was surprised to say the least to see these flags flowing. My SIL (who is from Michigan) explained that locals see it as a symbol of their heritage and their pride. She didn’t have to tell me that only the white locals felt this way.

“People in the South bitterly resented this attitude of [Northern] superiority, and in some quarters the words “damn” and “Yankee” became one word. And a somewhat fierce type of Southern pride came into being,” said Charlie Daniels about the Confederate Flag. “The Confederate battle flag was a sign of defiance, a sign of pride, a declaration of a geographical area that you were proud to be from. That’s all it is to me and all it has ever been to me.”

He went on to say “I can’t speak for all, but I know in my heart that most Southerners feel the same way” and that “every human being, regardless of the color of their skin, is just as valuable as I am and deserves the exact same rights and advantages as I do.”

a friend of a friend had this to say on Facebook:

[This Flag] triggers things that NONE of you understand. Once I learned my history, and what that flag enforced: lynchings, other types of murders, the sale of human beings as CHATTEL, stolen heritage of every. single. African. slave… only being 3/5 of a man, not being able to own property, being scared that the night riders were coming for you and your family, having deplorable living and educational environments, being escorted by the military to go to school, being killed for going to the store, THIS IS WHAT THAT REPRESENTS TO US.

Every time a Black person who KNOWS what this flag really represents sees this imagery, we think about and feel the pain of ALL OF THESE THINGS. The resurgence of this flag was for one thing and one thing only, to promote segregation.

This is the flag of a TERRORIST ORGANIZATION guilty of the HIGHEST TREASON in the land. More than ANY OTHER TERRORIST ORGANIZATION EVER! This is un-American as you can GET. They SECEDED FROM OUR COUNTRY and killed our citizens so they could keep their SLAVES. What do you NOT get about this flag. — Tracy Lynn Deis

Daniels did acknowledge that “the Confederate battle flag has been adopted by hate groups – and individuals like Dylann Roof – to supposedly represent them and their hateful view of the races.”

I suppose if you grew up there and your parents taught you that this flag symbolizes defiance, a sign of pride, a declaration of a geographical area that you were proud to be from, you’d take it at face value. I would also hope though that as you got older and saw more of the world, even if it is just your little corner of the South, you would realize that to many people, this flag does not mean what you think it means.

Finally, if your true goal is to establish, promote and celebrate your Southern Pride, then you should have no problem finding another symbol to represent it.  Otherwise, you have to really have an abundance of pride and a lack of common sense to not realize that your symbol of regional pride is rapidly approaching swastika territory.


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Free Fun Friday is where I like to feature a video that has gone viral or is otherwise interesting. It started as a way to make a quick blog entry so that I wouldn’t go too long between post for my readers. Now it’s sort of evolved as a way to stretch my writing muscles and flex my creativity neural pathways.