Why blog? Allan Karl has posted some interesting responses both here and here on the question of what motivates people to keep a weblog. Ticking away in the back of my head is the thought that what might initially motivate someone to start a blog (curiousity, wanting to write, wanting to get more web-savvy) is probably quite different to what keeps someone blogging (which has a lot to do with starting to feel that you are contributing to a debate or that you have a readership, however small, who get something from what you do.) I know for me that the unexpected bonus of blogging was how generous I've found other webloggers to be with their assistance and advice. It constantly astonishes me how people will email you a link that they think you will find interesting when they don't know you and stand to gain nothing from it.
PhD Weblogs An email this morning from a group called PhDweblogs asking if I'd like to sign up. I'm only a lowly MA at this stage, but I signed up anyway. There's only a handfull of people registered at this stage but it's interesting that they obviously think enough people will be looking into this area of research that it's worth setting up a website to collate them.
Absence explained No posts yesterday-- I was in at RMIT being an examiner for AIM. After many years of hanging round universities it was quite strange to be on the other side of the table, looking at students' work, giving them marks. I actually found it quite traumatic in some ways, and very difficult. I guess it must get easier with time.
Balloon Guy I suppose he is a clown, although he doesn't wear clown clothes or makeup. No red nose or big dumb shoes. But he carries a box full of those long magician's balloons that he twists into shapes for the people waiting at the tram stop, corner Bourke and Swanston. There are two things about him in particular that I've noticed.
Firstly, he only bends balloons for young Asian girls and only on week nights, during the second tram rush. If I've been at RMIT and commenced my tram journey at Latrobe St I know that almost without fail a young Asian girl will get on at the Mall with a bended balloon in her hand. These girls never look like they quite no what to do with this object- too big to fit in their bag, but nowhere discreet to throw it out.
The other thing I've noticed more concerns the balloon sculpture itself. The balloon man doesn't make the usual shapes beloved of balloon artists-- your horses, your chickens, your silly hats. His balloons are folded into oddly abstract forms, stemming, it would appear, more from an interest in colour and shape than from a desire to make anything representational. Sometimes the pieces look vaguely intestinal- blue and red sausages folded in on themselves in intricate loops. Like the belly of a rat during year 9 dissection. (A compulsory class.)
One thing I don't know is if he asks for or receives money for his work.
Stormy Petite, a walker like me, has noticed another lost animal poster that has given her cause to muse on the wording of these signs. She wrote to tell me of Stormy the dog, whose final characteristic is given as a tendency to howl at sirens. Petite says:
1. Don't all dogs howl at sirens? and
2. If even this trait is peculiar to Stormy, wouldn't it depend on his finder being with him at exactly the time a police car / fire engine goes past? I pictured a stranger holding a dog matching Stormy's description by the collar, waiting for a siren to start up, then if he didn't howl, letting him go with a sigh - you know, "Guess you're not Stormy after all...you just look like him."
Blog as creative writing Jill has written a post on something I have often thought would be a great project (and have often suspected some blogs of doing anyway)- using the medium for a fictional piece. As Jill has said, you would start with a specific event that you wanted to write about, but then let it develop as you felt inclined on the day. Perhaps the other pre-determined element could be two plot points that you have to include as some point throughout the duration of the writing project, just to ensure that the piece had some kind of structure.
The other thing that I've contemplated doing is a group fictional blog where participants are assigned a particular character and aim, one that possibly conflicts with other characters and their aims. Each writer would have a day to write their entry and try to make the narrative go in the way that suits their character's aims. I'm imagining it would work a little in the way that I think The Blair Witch Project worked- where the broad structure of the narrative would be pre-determined, but the details would be created by the characters. This would probably end up as something of a shamozzle, but I would be interested to see what it was like blogging as a fictional character.
I feel inspired- maybe I'll set myself a little fictional blog to keep myself busy over Christmas.
Birthday Weekend Why yes, it was a lovely birthday weekend away at the Grampians. Sun shone. Birds sang. Various local examples of local wildlife obliged us by showing their faces, except for the echidnas who tended to squish their faces into the dirt when they saw us and try, very hard, to look like plants. Spikey ones.
Thieu and I climbed Mt Difficult (almost to the top, but we ran out of time) and spent the time constructing modern names for mountains-- Mt Mortgage, Mt Negative Gearing, Mt Interest Free Loan, Mt Viagra. All in all, I was so distracted by the pleasantness of it all that I didn't notice my birthday sneaking up on me until it was too late. A call from the Frontier Librarians finished the weekend of nicely. Thankyou linesmen, thankyou ballboys.