The Power of Blogging and Social Networks

Many people lament the rise of social networks. Critics will say that people stop having face-to-face contact with each other and instead we all sit in front of our computer screens, sometimes pretending to something we are not. However, I think many people are now using social networks and blogging to make connections with new people. These connections can become powerful, positive forces in our lives. My experiences with blogging and social networks have been amazing. I have met new people and had new experiences as a result of my involvement.

Take this week we have Wandering Coyote visiting. We have reading and commenting on each other’s blogs for quite some time. We ended up bonding over our mutual disgust of the ‘Our Green Year’ bloggers. We exchanged emails and discovered we had a lot in common. We had been talking about how nice it would be to get together. So when the idea for this trip came we both agreed that she would stay with us. It has been fabulous! We all got along so well right from the beginning. It was like we have known each other for years!

Some changes and updates

The more astute of you will notice that the title of my blog has changed. Dispatches from the Swamp, which is something I use quite regularly to tie together a small group of updates has now become the title of the blog.  After all I live in a swamp and pretty much everything is a dispatch from here. It was a suggestion Deb made today when we were out for brunch.

When I started my blog, I really didn’t know what I was doing. To be honest, I really didn’t think that I wrote well or that people would want to read the blog. My main reason for starting it was a place to get my political and activist passions out into the open. Mostly, I really needed to just get it out of me. Since August 2007, my blogged has morphed into what it is today. I had over 22,000 hits last year, which is astonishing to me. Most days, my readership is in the triple-digits. Believe me when I say, I am humbled and grateful.

I can’t say that things won’t change with a new name. You never know. I am sure I will continue to write the ‘Dispatches from the Swamp’ posts. What I do know is that my blog will continue to be a big part of my life especially as I try to post everyday in 2011!

2010 in Blogs

I am shamelessly stealing this idea from Dr. Beth at NTBTWK. I am also going to steal her modification! I am shameless! To sum up the year, I am going to post the first 2 lines of the first blog for each of the 12 months of 2010. Here we go!


Here is my 2009 review post. I took this meme from Facebook. Seeing as all my blogs end up being posted in facebook, I thought I would do it here.


NaBloPoMo suggests a blogging theme for each month. In December it was ‘mitzvah’ which means giving. I chose to deviate from the theme as I did not want to post everyday about doing something nice as I thought it would be artificial.


Today I was a rebel. Today I did something I have never done before. Today I removed a tag that said “Do not remove this tag.”


I am always pleasantly surprised at how intuitive dogs are. I am pretty sure that our dogs are not an anomaly in their behaviour.


I am too tired to blog today. It has been a crash and burn kind of day.


Visits with my mother have never been an easy thing. Certainly they have never been considered a good time. I thought it was bad before.


So now there are sexual misconduct allegations against Al Gore. Of all of the male politicians in the US, Al Gore always seemed the most pure.


Busy day. A bit of plants vs zombies and a dinner guest.


Woo hoo! I am 2 days away from my 2 weeks off. I love to take time off in September.


One of my guilty pleasures is ‘The Apprentice.’ This week the teams were tasked with running a doggy day care.


Today I went to the dentist. This was an event as I am dental phobic and the dentist we have had for the last 10 or so years has retired.


So, we now have 4 candidates in the race to replace Gordon Campbell. First up is Moira Stillwell.

I am going to add a few things that have made this year memorable:

  • I was not hospitalized at all in 2010. Ok, yes there are a few hours to go but barring any major catastrophe, I should make it. It was also a year that saw my colitis get quite out of control. I am still trying to overcome a flare.
  • I have gone for blood tests every week since June. That is a lot of blood tests! Most weeks it is a CBC (Complete Blood Count) to monitor my counts. For most of this time, I have been able to access my results online. It has worked very well as I am able to get important information quickly.
  • I have had to come to terms with the fact that I am depressed and I have an anxiety disorder. I do far better on Pristiq than off. In getting that link I just read that Pristiq is being marketed as a non-hormone replacement treatment for menopause. While I am not there yet, I guess I can look at that little pill as me being proactive.
  • We marked the passing of Gemma, Kirby and Madison this year. They are all missed and we wish they were still with us.
  • I passed the 2-year mark at my current employment.
  • I loved how we all became believers during the 2010 Winter Olympics. This was one of my favourite posts of 2010.

Bring on 2011. I will be ducking for sure!

Daily Blogging through 2011

I have been thinking about whether I am going to try to blog every day through 2011. I attempted it for 2010. I think I missed 3 days – 1 day when it didn’t post and 2 random days where I completely forgot. WordPress is now encouraging people to blog daily. So, I think I am going to go for it. Anyone else want to join me?

Blog topics

Writing a blog every day is challenging. Coming up with a new topic everyday can be very difficult. So I thought I would open up my blog for questions. So feel free to ask questions! Here are some of the areas I would love questions about:

  • Canadian History (I did do those degrees after all)
  • dogs
  • politics
  • computers
  • living with chronic illness
  • music
  • the LGTB community
  • or anything else I have blogged about

Feel free! Let your questions fly in the comments and I will try to answer to the best of my ability!

Getting banned from other people’s blogs

Well, Deb and I have managed to get ourselves banned from this blog. Why you might ask? Well it appears that Deb’s passion for dogs ‘offended’ the author and I was banned too because we share the same ip address. The author was feeling ‘dissed’, because her dog Junebug was not happy to see her after an almost two month abscence and she was wondering whether or not she should just leave the dog in its current place. I commented that perhaps the dog was punishing her and that she would be sad if she was left there.

Deb read the post and commented as such:

Okay, so what was the point of this little story? You are selfish? You are irresponsible? You have a dog for all the wrong reasons? Junebug is no longer your dog? Junebug decided to remain loyal to her family, the family you have dumped her with time and again?

If you have one ounce of humanity in your egomaniacal little soul, you will walk away, leave Junebug with her family, and not look back. You will, for perhaps the first time in your life, think of Junebug’s needs first.

Oh, and the next time you think about obtaining a living being to be your security blanket, the next time you want an animal so that you can play with her/his emotions in order to make yourself feel good, the next time you want to hurt a dog over and over again by dumping and reclaiming him/her, don’t. Just don’t.

Dissed? I think not. It’s not even payback. It’s just you getting called on your abominable behaviour.

Good luck, Junebug. I hope you and your family have a long, happy life together.

Here is a link to Zuzu’s next post on the matter where she informs us we have been banned.

Now normally I would not bring a discussion like this to my blog I would keep at it the original site. But seeing as I can’t comment there I have no choice but to bring it here. Here is what I would write if I were allowed to comment on the other site:

You will have to excuse Deb’s passion. You see we have 9 dogs and all but one of them is a rescued dog. We have a dog who has been in a pen for 15 years. We have two dogs who 17 and 19 years old who have lost their homes for various reasons like cancer and incontinence. We have a dog who came to us as a foster almost 10 years ago who was so shy they were going to put him down. We have another dog who is aggressive and who likely would have been euthanized because of her behaviour towards other dogs. We have a blind, brain-injured dog who was thrown out of a moving vehicle in a Macdonald’s bag, like the trash. We are tired of cleaning up other peoples’ messes when it comes to their dogs. Sometimes that frustration boils over when confronted with a post like yours. You are treating the dog as property rather than a living, breathing, feeling animal. So yes, perhaps she was a little harsh. Was she wrong? Hell no.

I wonder if zuzu will have the cajones to post the link to here. Let the games begin.

Google Reader

I follow about 10 blogs regularly. At least once a day (sometimes many more given my OCD like nature) I would check all the blogs to see if they had been updated. This was starting to grow tedious. I would also come across blogs that I wanted to follow. I would bookmark them and then promptly forget about them.

What is the answer you ask?? Google Reader!!! Now, I have subscribed to the RSS feeds supplied by the blogs and Google Reader tracks them for me. I can go to one place and see what is new in all of my favourite blogs and read them. Anyone familiar with GMail will instantly understand the interface.

If you want more information or a really good primer go to Tucows.