There Is No Cat

A huge orangupoid, which no man can conquer

Friday, April 18, 2003

Retrospection

There Is No Cat is one year old today.

I've been blogging for a fair amount of time longer than that, actually. I started my genealogy blog on March 1, 2000, and before that, had a blog devoted to international broadcasting that started on December 23, 1999. I think these were some of the first single-topic blogs around.

The post I consider my first post was actually posted a year ago yesterday, but when I look up the domain name in WHOIS, I see that I actually bought the name on April 18, 2002, so today is the anniversary. There are a few entries before that, but they were really just fodder for when I was developing the content management system behind the site.

When I started this site, I was bored and unemployed and wanted to teach myself PHP and upgrade my MySQL skills. The site worked well at that, and even helped me get my last job as a result. Today, I'm bored and unemployed again. That doesn't feel like progress.

One of the main reasons I started the site was that I wanted the discipline of near-daily writing as a way to exercise my writing muscles and get better. It had been a while since I had written on a daily basis. I'm not sure the site has been a success on that front.

I went through the postings on the site last night just to see what I had written. Of the 441 entries I've made in the past year, I'm only truly satisfied with one, my musing upon the death of Joe Strummer. I still like that piece of writing. It has a good structure, a good rhythm, and it tells a worthwhile story.

There are a few pieces I think are pretty good, but I'm not completely happy with them. One was my entry about the way the United States is telling immigrants and potential citizens that they're not welcome here, based on the experience of one of my then co-workers. I feel a little uneasy about having written about my friend that way, and I think the piece could stand some more work.

My entry applying the works of Vaclav Havel under communism to my experiences in corporate America was okay, but the comparison is perhaps a stretch. I like some of my writing there, such as the way I tie the tag line on Patrick Nielsen Hayden's blog, where I found the link I was writing about, to the story itself, but on the whole, the entry seems kind of half-baked to me.

I'm reasonably happy with my meditation on the destruction of the Columbia. It gets to where I wanted it to go and helped me make sense of what happened. I'm not sure what I would do to make it better, so I guess I like it too.

I had a pretty oblique way of noting my birthday that I thought worked pretty well.

My dissection of the neighborhoods of Blogistan was clever in a navel-gazing kind of way. I think, though, that this is kind of baby you have to knife when you're working on anything extended. And my rant about how Knight-Ridder doesn't get the web has a few clever turns of phrase that aren't half bad.

The rest is mostly crap.

So the writing needs work, but since most of the pieces I like are later ones, it seems like maybe I'm making progress on that front. I've been kind of blocked lately, unable to write about a few things I want to, like the nature of community on the net. Maybe I'm just preoccupied with things like the upcoming wedding. I hope that's it, and that the words will start to flow better once that's over.

Aside from the writing, it's been an interesting year. One jerk threatened to sue me over something I wrote. That wasn't much fun. A couple of indisputable A-listers linked to me, although I didn't make their blogrolls. That doesn't bring as much traffic as I had thought it would, nothing like getting Slashdotted or anything (I've had sites I worked on Slashdotted three or four times; it killed one of them, but the other one, which was noted more than once, had no trouble keeping up under the onslaught). I was added to other blogrolls, though, which never ceases to surprise me. Thanks, neighbors. I don't get a huge number of visits, but there's a small community of people who visit regularly and leave tracks. Some of them are people I've known for a long time; others seem to have found me through the blog, and that's pretty cool. I don't think blogs are as conducive to making connections as some other forms of communication on the net, such as netnews, IRC, and mailing lists, but it's a lot of fun to see it happen a little.

So that's my year. It's been fun and frustrating. I expect the next one will be more of the same. I need to think of what I can do to improve my writing. Blogging doesn't seem to be conducive to long-form essay writing, so perhaps I just need to adjust my expectations.

Posted at 2:48 PM

Comments

Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.

Happy Anniversary.

Only a year? I must have been with you since the beginning. This blog was one that inspired me to start mine, and you were the first on my blogroll.

I think you may be being a little hard on yourself, you blog rocks I'm sad and envious that it's so much better than mine, I started only a month after you, it's not fair!

Posted by Monk at 4:25 PM, April 18, 2003 [Link]

hey, happy anniversary! that is quite an accomplishment.

i don't think you should be so hard on yourself, ralph. you write so well, and about such interesting things. i never get bored coming here.

A-listers, eh? i am so far away from that i wouldn't even know who they are. i don't even know what blogrolling actually does. what the hell is it, anyway?

personally, i'm happy that i have a small number of regular readers (although it has grown fairly substantially recently), and i like knowing who they are, and that i can talk to them.

so here's to another year. i look forward to reading :)

Posted by deb at 7:02 PM, April 18, 2003 [Link]

btw, just read the joe strummer entry. really nice.

i loved The Clash.

i saw The Clash at the Brixton Academy in London. it was amazing, although i almost got crushed to death when i ventured too near the stage. an american guy had to drag me out of the crowd like a drowning swimmer because i couldn't breathe. my best friend got a fractured rib.

it was worth it.

Posted by deb at 7:08 PM, April 18, 2003 [Link]

Thanks for the kind words, Franklin and Deb. Gee, I always thought my blog kind of rolled rather than rocked. Sometimes it tips over. :-)

Yeah, I'm probably a little hard on myself, but I've always found that that's the best way for me to get better in my writing. Relentlessly self-critical, that's me.

I think maybe once my life quietens down a little I'll be able to focus on the kind of writing I have in mind. Then again, maybe blogs aren't meant for that. They do tend to lend themselves more to first draft kind of writing....

Posted by ralph at 8:04 PM, April 21, 2003 [Link]

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What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio


There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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