This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Monday, March 30, 2015

A is for Apple (#AtoZChallenge)

English: A honeycrisp apple from an organic fo...
 A honeycrisp apple from an organic food farm co-op.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A Is For Apple

       An apple a day is some good healthy advice that has long been cited by those in the know.  I've heard this since I was a kid and that's been some 60 years ago.   My father loved apples and it seemed like we usually had apples around the house.  If he saw a roadside stand selling apples we'd invariably pull over and when he resumed driving he'd be chomping away on an apple.

        As for me I can't say I've been quite the apple fan that my dad was.  Oh sure, I like apples just fine, but my preference is to carefully cut them up in neat slices and eat them piece by piece.  No major chomping for me.   The apple variety that I've been mostly buying and eating over the past couple years is the Honeycrisp apple--sweet, juicy and utterly delicious.

        I'm maybe not eating the apple a day as suggested by health experts, but I've been eating more apples than I used to.   Now if only those Honeycrisp apples weren't so darn expensive!

This Is A to Z!

        No I didn't accidentally post early.  What I did was set my timer for 5 minutes and then I started writing in stream-of-consciousness style about a commonly stated "A" aphorism.   I could have posted about any "A" topic that popped into my head.   For that matter I could have done a post about "aphorisms".

         The point of all this is to refute all those who say, "I don't have time to do A to Z in April."   Five little minutes is enough for any average writer to come up with something.  We're not expecting every post to be a work of genius (though genius is always welcomed and admired).

         So you think you don't have time to come up with a post every day in April.  I've just demonstrated that it can easily be done in five minutes--or ten minutes if you include this explanatory tag to my example post.  I'd be willing to bet that a good many of you could come up with a much better post than I did here.  Take the Challenge and prove it.

         Now you have no excuses.   Go to the A to Z Blog Sign up List and add your blog.  You can do this.   You can do this very easily.

         Now what's your excuse for not doing the A to Z Challenge?    Do you think that everything you post needs to be a work of genius?   Do you ever participate in timed stream-of-consciousness writing exercises? 


   The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge begins this Wednesday April 1st!  The sign up list is still open!

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Creeping Presence Crawling Toward Us

Night of the Living Dead-1
Night of the Living Dead-1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        It's coming.   There's a presence all around us taking control of the minds and bodies of bloggers everywhere.   To some it's a horror sucking innocents into its hungry maw.  Those who fear or even hate this thing may scream in futile horror, but their cries are barely heard as those of us who have been possessed by the monster smile, laugh, and chide those bitching moaning tormented souls.

         There is no stopping it--indeed, us.  We are upon you.  We are everywhere.  We are that damnable nightmare...

The Month of the Living Blogging from A to Z April Challenge!!!

        If you are not a part of the movement then you might be eaten alive or merely pummeled  and left by the internet roadside.   Don't resist us!   Look into our bloggy eyes and become one of us.  You can blog through the alphabet in April.   Don't succumb to that flimsy lie that you can't.  You can try to run.  You can pretend you're too busy writing.  Forget it!  You cannot hide from us.  You must join the A to Z Challenge!

        You must!  You must sign up!  Go to A to Z Sign-up list now!  Add your blog!   Add your blog!


Go Ahead and Ask Me Anything!

         If you've been visiting the Blogging from A to Z Challenge Blog--which of course you should be--you may have seen our co-hosts introducing themselves and fielding questions that have been put to them.   My day is coming up and it seems only appropriate to come on "A as in Arlee Bird Day" on April 1st--opening day of the Challenge. 

         Go ahead and ask me a question today in the comment section and I might choose your question for my A to Z Blog "Meet Your Co-hosts" post.  Don't be shy.  And if I don't use your question on my A to Z Blog post I can still use it in a future "Ask Arlee" post at Tossing It Out.

A to Z Starts Next Week!

        Can you believe that it's here again.  Wednesday April 1st marks the opening of the 6th Annual A to Z April Challenge.  There will be a lot going on that day, but I hope you'll be visiting my blog for a truly epic post of 4 EVENTS IN ONE POST and it will even be a relatively short post.  Nothing like it has been seen before!

          Yes, step right up to see me, Arlee Bird, worthily submit a combined post that will encompass the A to Z Challenge Opening Day, the Insecure Writer's Support  Group, Ask Arlee, and a Battle of the Bands post that will be related to everything else.  I may even be standing on my head and juggling at the same time.   You won't believe your eyes and ears, ladies and gentlemen and bloggers everywhere.

         That's right here next Wednesday April 1st at Tossing It Out.

And That's Not All!

        No, I will not be just piddling away at this blog Tossing It Out where my April theme will be "Elements of Blogging".   I have four other blogs with the tied in themes of:

      Yes siree!   Four blogs with almost as many elements as the Periodic Table of the Elements and a darn sight more fun.  Don't miss a day or you'll miss a day.   And you wouldn't want to miss a day would you?

          What would you like to know about Arlee Bird that I haven't blabbed already in one of my many blabby blog posts?    Have I convinced you to sign up if you weren't already on the A to Z list?  Can you name all of the elements on the Periodic Table without looking?

Monday, March 23, 2015

A to Z Theme Reveal-- Elements of Blogging

       One of the topics of Tossing It Out which has gotten the best responses over my past five or so years of blogging is the topic of blogging.  Anything from content to comments seems to be something that we bloggers like to hear about.  I tend to read those types of posts on other blogs and when I post on blog related topics I tend to receive a good reaction in my comment section.  The topic of blogging is one that bloggers embrace because it's about what we enjoy doing.

      Twice during the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge I've used marketing and promotion as my topic, once I blogged about movies, and in other years the subject matter was somewhat random.  In this 2015 Challenge my topic will be in regard to blogging.  A few of my previous A to Z posts discussed blogging and blogging has been a frequent topic on Tossing It Out throughout the years.

       For this 2015 A to Z Challenge I call my theme "Elements of Blogging".   This will be stuff most of you already know while some might be some things you might not have thought too much about.  My intent in April will be to explore what blogs are about.   Maybe some of you will get some ideas about things you could blog about that previously hadn't crossed your mind.   Or you might find something that will interest someone you know whom you think might want to start a blog about the things that interest them.

         My April mission will be to explore the unique possibilities that blogging has to offer everybody and perhaps even give you cause to explore your own approach to blogging to see what you might do to infuse new life into your blog. This will be basic information that I hope will stimulate some conversation about the subject of blogging and how to blog better.  I'll be looking for comments to expound on the concepts I present.

          Do you like blogging?   Do you like to read blog posts about blogging?   I hope you'll follow along in April.  Even better still, I hope you'll let your non-blogging friends know about my series just in case it might inspire them to start their own blogs.   That means more bloggers to sign up for A to Z in 2016!

          If you have not yet signed up for the 2015 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, please go to the A to Z Challenge Linky List to add your blog today.  For more A to Z theme reveals please go to the Theme Reveal participant list.

        Do you enjoy reading blog posts about blogging?   Have you noticed that posts about blogging tend to usually get a good comment response?  What is a special field of interest that you tend to like to read about?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Is Something in the Air? (BOTB Results)

reflected sadness
reflected sadness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bring Me To Life

       There's an old comic strip or cartoon cliche of the character who has a dark rain cloud over his head which symbolically depicts bad luck, depression, or a downcast mood.  I've been sensing that cloud over the heads of some bloggers out there.  In fact I've been feeling that shadow on me now and then.

       For me I think there is a matter of bad diet and poor habits that are causing me to feel more tired than normal.  Perhaps I'm starting to feel the effects of getting older.   I can probably think of any number of things that get me down now and then, but to dissuade any thoughts that I'm suffering from some kind of depressive state let me assure you that these feelings are relatively infrequent and probably within the bounds of normalcy.

        However I read some of the blogs out there and look around at some of the people I know and wonder if there is some prevailing aura of despair and discontent hovering over the world.  Maybe it's something to do with weather issues for some of you.  Or could it be the uncertainty of the affairs of the world or a fear of the economy.  I suppose it could be anything--food additives, something in the water, chemtrails poisoning the air or you can probably think of other possible culprits.

         Hopefully it's all my imagination.  I'm good and I hope you are as well.   Let's liven up!  A to Z is almost here and we've got to fire ourselves up for it.   It's spring and soon summer will be here!   As Tina Downey would have reassured us, "Life is good!"    I believe that.   Do you?


Battle of the Band Results

       The vote tally today comes from the Battle of March 15 between Gregorian and Katherine Jenkins performing their renditions of the Evanescence song "Bring Me To Life".

       Both versions are quite good and the voting bears this out.   Like so many of the Battles I've put together the choice was a tough one between two artists that were both worthy of a win.  This was another frantic race to the finish line.

       At the outset Gregorian took a substantial lead that made them appear to be poised for a decisive victory.  Then as votes continued to come in Jenkins edged forward and squeaked by to a one vote lead.   That left my vote.

        I wavered a bit on this as I can easily go with either version.  Typically I do have a preference for male vocalists over female, especially when it comes to operatic female voices.  Jenkins has a marvelous set of pipes, but there was a certain lack of uniqueness for me in her presentation as well as that of the background chorus.  I thoroughly enjoyed the orchestration in this arrangement.  All told it's a great recording, but when put up against the Gregorian version--well...

       Firstly I liked the guitar in the Gregorian version as well as the orchestration.  The timbre of the lead vocals had a mystical quality that created a sense of longing and intense need for revival.  There was a power to the percussion back-up that did not overwhelm yet added an urgency to the feeling of the song.  I especially preferred the backing vocals in the Gregorian version--they were manic, almost nightmarish, but not overbearing in any way, which added a greater sense of drama to the presentation so that it was not so much of a song production like the Jenkins version, but a powerful moving spectacle of musical theater.   

       My vote for Gregorian thus puts this contest into a tie.

Final Vote Tally

Gregorian                 17 Votes

Katherine Jenkins    17 Votes

Life Goes On

       By the way, my colonoscopy adventure is done and much less traumatic than I envisioned.  Other than staying up most of the night for the prepping, the procedure itself was a breeze.   Amazingly quick even!  I checked in at about 7:45 then after various tests and preparations they began to administer the anesthesia at 8:30.   I immediately went under--completely under--and after sleeping for what I figured must have been a couple of hours of blissful sleep I was awakened.   Looking at the clock I noticed it was now 8:45.   I could have sworn I'd been sleeping for hours.  That was one heck of a fast and painless procedure.   Now it's done and I am glad.

       Coming this Monday March 23rd on Tossing It Out will be my A to Z Theme Reveal post. You can still sign up for the Theme Reveal event if you follow this link and even if you've already blabbed your theme you can still reveal it on Monday for those who didn't hear yet. 

         If you've not yet signed up for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge it's certainly not too late for that--you still have over a week to get on the list and we hope you do.  Don't fall under the misconception that you don't have the time or none of your posts are ready or any other feeble excuse you might come up with.   Keep in mind that posts don't have to be long or complicated, you don't have to kill yourself visiting everyone in the world who blogs, and you don't have to do any more than you are willing or capable of doing.  Just get on the list, relax, and generate the daily posts.   If you're a blogger this is really just like breathing.  Some bloggers just make a bigger deal out of this event than needs be made.  After all the point of it all is not to frustrate you or destroy you, but to inspire you, better your blogging skills, and give you something to have a good time with.  So think about it.  Or even better, don't think about it, just go sign up!

       Next Battle of the Bands post for Tossing It Out will be a quadruple whammy of a post on April 1st:  Opening post of the A to Z Challenge combining Insecure Writer's Support Group, Ask Arlee, and BOTB in one relatively simple post just to prove some of what I said in my previous paragraph.  Think I can do it?    Be here to find out.   Surely you don't doubt old Arlee by now?

          Are you coming back to life for spring?    Do you still have a truly good rebuttal for not joining us in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge?    How long do you think my combined April 1st post will end up being?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Ironic Post That I Didn't Post Today

English: Private patient room at Sharp Memoria...
 Private patient room at Sharp Memorial Hospital
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

       This post that you are now reading is not the post that I originally planned to publish today.  Due to an ironic circumstance that post seemed somewhat inappropriate for me to put up right now, though in actuality it's probably very fitting.  But just not right now.

        To explain in part, in the wee early hours of Monday morning I woke up extremely ill.   My attempts to return to sleep were fitful and then about 4:30 I became violently ill.   I wasn't even able to see my wife off to work as is my custom.  Instead I stayed in bed and remained there for most of the day only getting up a couple of times to get check my email and respond to blog comments, but staying up for any length of time was out of the question.  All told I think I slept for about twenty of Monday's 24 hours.

       Tuesday morning I still didn't get up to see my wife off.  She understood.  However, I had an interview scheduled with a client with whom I am working on a writing project so I managed to get myself ready to take care of that bit of business.  I was still weak and achy, but feeling better by far than I had felt the previous day.  I've been eating a bit to get my strength back, but a big irony is that I'm not supposed to eat for the next couple of days and only take a liquid diet due to a colonoscopy scheduled for Thursday.

       The piece that I originally scheduled for today is kind of appropriate for my current state of being, but it can wait since it's been in my publish queue for quite a while now.   I had decided to use it now because it kind of fit in with my Battle of the Bands theme.   I think I'll just wait now and publish that post at a later date.  Or maybe never.

        If you haven't voted on my most recent Battle of the Bands post I hope you'll visit "Bring Me to Life" and cast a vote.   I'll be tallying the votes tomorrow (Thursday evening) and announcing the winner on Friday March 20th.

       Eventually--probably in May--I'll publish that post that was meant for today.  For the time being though I'll leave you with one question:   To what extent do you think our mind has the power over the illnesses that we feel and to which we succumb?  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Bring Me To Life (BOTB)

       The onset of spring is upon us and with spring comes new life, the stirring of hope, and the revival of stifled dreams.   I've been reading the discontent, the pain, and the despair on some of your blogs and from the sound of things more than a few of us could use an infusion of metaphorical spring in addition to the actual season that is so near to us--this Friday in fact!

       But for now we are at March 15th and this is one of the days of the month that we now set aside to celebrate the Battle of the Bands, the event where music loving bloggers offer up two different versions of one song and you the readers decide which version you prefer.   The Battle of the Bands blog event was founded by Stephen T McCarthy and Faraway Eyes.   After you vote on your favorite of the two selections I've offered, please visit the participants who are listed at the end of this post to vote on their Battles.

        This post is dedicated to all of you who have been indicating that you need a lift and especially to my Battle of the Bands mates RobinFaraway Eyes, and Stephen T. McCarthy.

"Bring Me to Life"

       This song was originally released in 2003 by the alt rock/metal/nu metal band Evanescence.  It's a quite beautiful song with a message of hope and personal revival.  The song has been covered a number of times in various ways.  In this current Battle I've chosen versions by two artists that have a somewhat classical sound, this in contrast to my previous Battle which featured heavy rock interpretations of Beethoven's "Fur Elise".

       If you're interested in hearing the original with the official video you can click here, but please don't include this in the vote.  This is for reference only for those who are curious.   I won't say anything about the competitors in this contest.  I'll let their song versions speak for them.

Gregorian  "Bring Me To Life" (2010)

Katherine Jenkins  "Bring Me To Life"   (2009)

Time to Vote!

     Which do you prefer?    It's up to you to determine the winner.   Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the one you chose.  Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around.   And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:


 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands



DC Relief Battle of the Bands

Alex J Cavanaugh (his will post on Monday March 16th)

Results on Friday March 20th

       There will be no Monday post at Tossing It Out this week in order to allow this current post to stay current for a couple of extra days in order to allow more voting.   Do come back on Wednesday though.

       The results of my Battle of the Bands post for this current contest will be announced on this coming Friday March 20th. 

          Which version do you prefer and why?  Do you typically enjoy listening to Gregorian chants?  Does this song speak to you in any way?   

Friday, March 13, 2015

Another Friday the 13th!

Digital clock's display changing numbers
Digital clock's display changing numbers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 13th Comment

        A couple of years ago I mentioned a concept about what I referred to as The 13th Comment Phenomena.   This was in reference to an observation that I had made that I had often seen blog comments stall at the twelfth one--they might stop there period or they might merely pause until someone came along to leave the 13th comment and then they would start coming in again until the comments on that particular post had played out.

        Nearly everyone who left a comment on that post said they had not noticed this 13th Comment Phenomena.    But still the phenomena continues to catch my eye.  Repeatedly I see comments stopped at 12.  I have no problem stepping in to break through that 12th comment barrier to post the 13th comment, but in my observations it often seems that I am leaving my 13th comment many hours or even days beyond the most previous comment.   Why do many comment sections appear to stall at number twelve?   Or is it mostly a matter of something that stands out to me making the occurrence seem more prevalent than it really is?


        This numerology observation has a relationship to another idea that I posted about early in 2013 in the post What Is the Scariest Time of Day? based on another theory about why certain times of day seem to stand out more than others.  At the time I wrote that post I was often looking at the digital clocks around our house to see three of the same digits (1:11, 2:22, and so on).  The frequency at which I was seeing this seemed to stand out to me though the seemingly obvious explanation would be that I was merely noticing the anomaly of the three digits more than I would a combination of randomly different digits.

       This occurrence of happening to catch numbers at just the right moment is explained by some in the term synchronicity which is a meaningful recurrence of events or observations that are not causally related.   Another way of describing these events would be "meaningful coincidences".  A number of explanations for the observing by multitudes of certain number sequences have been offered and I would imagine we could think of many more.   Apparently the 11:11 observation has become noticed throughout the world.   Google "11:11" and you can see what I mean.

         Coincidences?   11:11, the stalling at the twelfth comment, or examples that might come to your own mind can be explained, but can those explanations be verified?   Maybe we can try an experiment right now.   Open your blog in another tab and see how many comments you have at this moment.  Let us know in my comment section where your comments have stopped for now.  If we get a preponderance of 12 comment answers, then maybe there is something to this phenomena.   

          As for me, I'll likely continue to manipulate my comment section to where I make sure I don't stall out at 12 comments.   It doesn't bother me to add the 13th comment.

            Happy Friday the 13th!   

            How many comments do you have at this moment?    What do you think of synchronicity?  Do you believe that numbers have significant meaning besides the usual purpose of counting and calculating?

          Don't forget Battle of the Bands on Sunday March 15th!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

the Problem with Labels

Atlas sculpture, New York City, by sculptor Le...
Atlas sculpture, New York City, by sculptor Lee Lawrie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Identification or Instilling Prejudice?

     Now and then on this blog we've tossed about the idea of assigning labels to things such as music and the effects of assigning those labels.  People will often prejudge that which as been labelled in accordance with their own predilections.   Therefore, using music as our example, if a work has a specific label such as classical, country, be-bop or what have you, a person might decide even before listening what their opinion will be and if they do listen to the musical work they are likely to hear the music based on their expectations of it.   They don't go much deeper than knowing what they like and not much can change that opinion.

Is Labeling a Marketing Plus or a Drawback?

     There might be inherent dangers from the standpoint of marketing when it comes to attaching labels to products.  Labels can have the tendency to limit an audience resulting in less sales.  On the other hand accurate labeling can draw the attention of a certain group attracted by whatever it is being promised by the label.  If consumers feel they've been deceived by the labeling, they may be lost as a customer forever.  And worse they might tell others about the deception which can give a product a very bad name.

      Typically I think a label restricts interest for those who are turned off by the label and attracts those who are looking for products with that label.   Reliable reviews and positive word of mouth can help to overturn preconceived prejudice in some few cases, but this kind of buzz can be difficult to generate.  Labeling can be a blessing for the consumer in simplifying the decision to make a purchase, but a curse for the one who is attempting to break their product free from stereotyping to establish a broader reach into the marketplace.

       So with this in mind, from the standpoint of authors and the publishing industry, is labeling books bad?   The consumers job is made easier if they know whether to look in the romance or science fiction department.  If the reader wants to escape into fiction and have nothing to do with non-fiction then this is more easily accomplished with labeling.   If a writer wants to play to a specialized audience then the labeling does a better job of reaching that desired audience.

       But what about the works that are not so easily categorized?  The hybrid works and mash-ups can be difficult to place and may be rejected by the readers who are looking for one thing or another and not a combination of two or more things.    The science fiction romance will likely be lumped in with the science fiction books which in turn will likely loose the romance fans.  Internet book buying has solved much of this with tags.  Unfortunately this is not as easy to do in a brick and mortar type environment where books are sold.

Does Authorial Intent Call for Labeling?  

       A bigger problem of labeling might come with genres such as Christian fiction.  There is certainly a large enough audience to sustain marketability of products labeled as "Christian", but one might want to ask, "What is the goal of Christian literature?"   Would that intent mostly be preaching to the choir or is there a deeper desire to help fulfill the Great Commission through literature?  Would a non-Christian or a staid anti-Christian feel duped and angry if they were to start reading a book of this nature without being warned up front?

       Same if a book were to be labeled "Atheist Literature" or "Muslim Literature" or any other such category.   Why would these categories exist other than to promote a system of belief or open the minds of others to that belief?   How readily do you find that audience who takes it upon themselves to read what they might disagree with or even heartily oppose?  See the post by Rachelle Gardner on this topic.   It's a few years old, but as relevant as ever.

        Genre labeling can cover so many different topics and styles and is even broken down into more specific subgenres.   However if authorial intent gets taken into greater consideration, should that take precedent over the actual story subject matter?    The books of Ayn Rand or C.S. Lewis have perhaps a more persuasive ideological intent than those of authors such as Tom Clancy or Stephen King, authors who certainly have something to convey about their beliefs while taking care to retain commercial appeal that will sell more books.

Get Ready to Face the Music

           My most recent interest about labeling has been more related to music due to my Battle of the Bands posts.  The comments generally left on my BOTB posts as well as on those of my participating colleagues show some very rigid preferential inclinations toward certain styles of music as well as overtly stated distaste for other musical styles.

           As I have a tendency to do, the next Battle of the Bands might be delving into unpopular realms for some, but done so in the interest of disseminating musical diversity.  While my previous Battle of the Bands post featured heavy metal (or metal influenced) artists performing modern interpretations of classical music, the upcoming Battle will be somewhat reversed.   It's coming this Sunday March 15th and if you show up for the Battle you will see what I'm talking about.

          Do you like the idea of literature, music, and other arts being labeled?   Do you feel that labels might hinder some from reading literature that is quite good, but avoided because of what the label suggests it might be?    Have you ever felt deceived because a book that you read was propagating ideas or belief systems with which you disagreed or intensely disliked? 

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Fun Frenzy of a Twitter Chat

      By this time many of you are undoubtedly on Twitter.  You may or may not have found the advantage of being on Twitter and if you're like me you might still be experimenting with this social media site to see what can be done with it.  I might never figure out the absolute usefulness of Twitter, but for now I have some fun with it when I can.   One interesting Twitter activity is the "chat".

      A Twitter chat is something that can absolutely make your head spin as you're getting accustomed to it.   Think of it as a bunch of people talking all at once and you have to keep track of as many conversations as you can and respond to the parts that pertain to you or interest you the most.  In this scenario, instead of conversing aurally, the conversations are all written back and forth so that everything is in a combination of delayed time and thinking ahead to what you're going to type and send next.  This is conversation that can really keep you on your toes and get you lost if you're not staying on top of it all.
TweetDeck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

       If you've never followed a Twitter chat I don't recommend doing it on your regular Twitter feed.  I did that the first time and ended up all over the place unable to add anything of my own into the conversation.  Then I started using Tweetdeck, a site for organizing your Twitter streams into manageable columns such as notifications and various hashtags which act as labels for an ongoing chat.  There are a number of these social media dashboard sites that will manage what you want to see on the Twitter feeds.  My recommendation is to do your own Google search to find the one that suits your needs the best.

       Want to see what I'm alluding to in this post?   I'm not going to go into the details of explaining how a chat works, but instead I recommend that you check one out for yourself.  What better way than dropping in on one of the A to Z Challenge chats?    These occur every Thursday at 1 PM and 8 PM Eastern Time.   The hashtags you will look for are #AZChat and #AtoZChallenge.

        You'll almost always see some sporadic activity with these hashtag labels, but things really break loose when the chat times come.  This is the time to ask questions, share your blog links, and meet others in the A to Z community.  And to keep the conversations going, the A to Z hosts will periodically put up their own questions as conversation prompts.   There is never a dull moment during the A to Z Chats.

         Try it this coming Thursday to see what it's all about.  Grab a coffee, a glass of wine, your water bottle, or whatever you'd like and sit in to talk to the group about your A to Z thoughts.  You can even just sit in and read if you'd prefer, but once you get into that rhythm of the chatter you will probably want to jump in with your own things to say.

        It's great fun and it's informative too.  Need blog or twitter followers?  Start with an A to Z Chat so you can find like minded folks who you'll enjoy mingling with.   After all, the community is one of the main benefits of A to Z.  The A to Z chats are another way to enjoy that community a bit more.

        Drop in this Thursday to see what I'm talking about.   We'll be looking for you  so be sure to at least say "hello".

         Are you signed up on Twitter?  If not, why not?  Have you participated in a Twitter chat?   If so tell us about the experience you had.  

Friday, March 6, 2015

If We Don't Try We Never Learn (BOTB Results)

English: Ballot Box showing preferential voting
 Ballot Box showing preferential voting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        "If we don't try, we never learn" is a statement that I use in a few different ways.  For example, in regard to liking certain foods.  I heard somewhere that you need to try a food seven times in order to appreciate it at least to the point were you can tolerate it.  Once you get accustomed to hearing a particular piece of music you will not mind or will even enjoy hearing it in the future.

        For me this past week was a time for trying new things.   The most recent Battle of the Bands was an event for Tossing It Out with blog posts spanning four days.  On Monday first Battle competitor Orion's Reign provided material for a post profiling the band.   Then on Wednesday the other competing artist, Sebastian Sidi, invited me to his recording studio to provide a YouTube video interview including special advice for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

          I want to thank both artists for contributing their time in helping me to create two great blog posts.  A goodly number of visitors had nice things to say about the featured artists.   This week made a splash on my blog as well as some added visibility for Battle of the Bands.


 My Voting Experiment

         In the recent Battle I knew that many of the artists' fans would be coming to vote for their favorite.   And most of us probably have had the problem of non-bloggers not understanding how to leave comments on our blogs so I feared that a lot of potential votes would be lost.  That being the case I decided to add a poll widget to make it easier to leave votes.  This resulted in some wild voting.

         In the comment section from the beginning to the time of the tally on Thursday night Orion's Reign held a consistent lead over Sebastian Sidi who remained a solid second.

 Final tally in comment section:

Orion's Reign         23

Sebastian Sidi         16      

At the Poll:

        My experiment was using the polling system.  The first widget I added apparently maxed out at 30 votes which stopped voting early on with Orion's Reign with 16 votes and Sebastian Sidi at 14.  When I learned of the malfunction a few hours in the first round had been lost.   I recovered with a no vote limit widget from another poll provider.  This poll worked very well throughout the week with Sebastian's votes leading by double over Orion's Reign.   

         It was starting to appear that I would have an awkward situation of one artist winning in comments with the other having a big win on the poll.  By midday of Thursday the count for Sebastian was 85 and Orion's Reign with 45.   Then something happened after that--votes started pouring in for Orion's Reign.

         To see results of second poll click here.

Final Tally from Both Polls

Orion's Reign              178

Sebastian Sidi              102

       Winner by both counts is Orion's Reign, but in my eyes both these artists are big winners.  The participation they both gave pushed Tossing It Out to a new level of excellence.  My thanks to Michael Batistatos of Orion's Reign and Sebastian Sidi. These guys are both real pros and I look forward to big things from both of them in the future.   Hope to see more of you at Tossing It Out.

          Are there some things that you'd like to try but are afraid to do so?   What did you like best in the previous week at Tossing It Out?   What is the most difficult thing you ever had to learn?

      Next Battle of the Bands will be on Sunday March 15th.   Where this previous Battle was classical music interpreted by rock artists, the next one will be a twist on that theme.   Be there for the fun!