Friday, October 20, 2006

it's all so subjective

I spent the morning reading On the Contrary. I'm really still over-alcoholed this morning (well, okay, hungover from way too much red wine), and undercaffeinated, so pondering is what I do best, since I'm moving at a snail's pace, mentally.

And what I pondered is this...blogging is so subjective. I reviewed a blog last week that some folks really like, but was the epitomy of blah for me.

And this blog, which is nothing but some short posts on middle eastern stuff, on an ugly standard blogger template, isn't blah.

And whether a blog works for me or not is a truly subjective thing that hangs on miniscule, for instance, do I LIKE this person blogging? Would I throw back drinks with this person? Does this person communicate a unique and quirky personality through their blog? Does this person make me laugh? Does this person's blog make me want to read? And there, in the last sentence, is the kicker for me.

If it makes me want to read, just to see what surprising thing this person is up to, then I'll like it. Sex, drugs, promiscuity, those things help. But I know what I like, and I like this blog.

The posts are short, but this man, Don Radlauer, hooks me in. He has a brief, pithy, self-deprecating way of writing that endears him to me.

For instance:

All my regular readers have come to rely on this blog for pithy aphorisms that guide them through their daily lives; this may explain why I have very few regular readers.

And the aphorism:

I pitied myself because I had no headlights, until I rear-ended a man who had no brake lights.

While I really don't care for the dark blue curves standard blogger template, I LURVE what he has done with these clickable, expandable sidebar thingies. Very clean way of wrapping things up tidily. I disagree that he needs ALL these categories on his sidebar, and I'd revise the order of some of them, (for instance, do you really need to know where I came from on your sidebar? Or what country I live in?), but it's a cool and clean way of handling the overly long sidebar situation. Of course, the coolness of that is overcome by the ucky sidebar ads and blog mad promotion, but I suppose I can't have everything.

Are you really actually making any money off of those ads, Don? Because if you aren't, lose them. They're tacky.

Let's see...criticisms. I have no content criticisms, whatsoever, and I like how he selectively uses extended post summaries to add interest to the content and wrap up overly long posts. I wish everyone did this. I really can't get into all the incredibly intellectual political commentary (I'm going to need A LOT more coffee for that), but I'm sure it's really smart. And, uh, nice and all. But you had me at the pithy aphorisms, dude.

One last thought...i hate the quote on your footer. It's too close and yet too not close to the blog description on your header. Come up with something that reflects your personality better. It's zzzz.

And, investigate a nicer, lighter, cleaner blog design...Start here. You're clearly adept enough with blogger-speak to do these extended post summaries and wrap up sidebars. You're ready for a design that more accurately reflects your good content.

I give it because you made me smile this morning, Don, and in my dehydrated and painful state, that's no small thing.

Oh, and a for clearly having better than average blogger skills but an ugly standard template.


  1. Thanks for the kind words and the helpful suggestions, LB.

    In response to your review and the one at another review site which shall remain nameless (both reviews, for some reason, came out on the same day), I've made a couple of changes: I retitled my blog, not because of the reviews but because I was getting sick of the old title. The new title is " You’ll come for the terrorism, you’ll stay for the taxes - welcome to the Middle East!" - which is long, but I like it anyway. (I've also been advised that having "Middle East" and "terrorism" right there in my title will help with Google searches - and since my blog really does deal with these issues, I suppose there's nothing very wrong with "playing the system" a bit.)

    I've also done some further tinkering with the sidebar. As you suggested, I've ditched the ads - they were blog-swap ads rather than anything intended to make money, but I'd noticed that these programs weren't really drawing any traffic to my site anyway - done some reorganization, and taken the "peekaboo" concept a couple of steps further. I would very much appreciate anyone's feedback on the new changes. (One commenter on the other review site wrote that s/he hated my use of the word "stuff" in the new version of the sidebar - my inclination is to disagree with him/her, but if I start hearing the same complaint from others, I may change my mind. Or not.)

    I've ditched the repetetive part of the blog footer. Whether anyone who's read through to the bottom of the page will remember the question posed at the top of the page is very much an open question. Whether anyone will care is an even bigger open question!

    I've been feeling very conflicted about the whole template issue. The one I'm using is definitely blah; I picked it basically because it didn't look silly or make things hard to read. (I absolutely hate BTOD blogs and low-contrast text; and since my own blog is almost entirely text, the last thing I want to do is make it hard to read!) Something snappier would definitely be nice; but at the same time, I want the thing to look basically "serious" rather than overly personal or silly. I find that when I try to visualize how I'd like a new blog template to look, I draw a blank. But I'll keep working on it. Are the banner photos in the Gecko & Fly templates easily changeable? Some of the templates look pretty good, but the pics aren't right for who I am / where I live and write about.

    Thanks again,


  2. First, thanks to whoever posted that review. I was hung up in a meeting all day and wasn't able to get online AT ALL. Glad I wrote it in advance.

    Don: Glad you enuoyed the feedback.

  3. And yes, the pictures at the top of the gecko and fly temlates are easily interchangeable as long as you keep the graphic the same size.


Grow a pair.