Coffee House Cold War

In case you missed it when it was originally posted–A REBLOG FROM EARLIER IN THE YEAR.

Covert glances around newspaper pages…steely-eyed, angry men wearing muted shades of gray…silent, unsaid threats of catastrophic damage were ever-present…thinly-veiled scorn and contempt for the other side, constantly seeking for ways to outmaneuver the enemy for the upper hand. It was a time of fear where the lives of innocent were at risk and there was a sense of foreboding that no one could escape.

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What am I describing? Could it be a scene in Russia? North Korea? Perhaps this story is set in East Berlin before the fall of the wall? No, this is simply the weekly scene that occurred at my local coffee shop, and it was war. Continue reading

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Feeding Chickens in the Land of Dickens (Interview)

Do you ever have one of those days when you just need a pick-me-up?  When I have a day like this, where my coffee just hasn’t been enough to do the trick, I often turn to Mother Hen Diaries. Dorreen Augustine always has that special blend of optimism and wit to catch my attention and perk up my day!

Seriously…she’s funny. It’s what attracted me to her blog initially. With so many blogs that exist to simply be rant sessions, Dorreen’s blog stands out as being a beacon of positivity.

As an American living in the U.K., she has a very interesting perspective on life, one that I find inspirational, and as is the case with many bloggers, Dorreen describes herself much better than I could.  From the About page of Mother Hen Diaries, here is a snippet of what Dorreen has to say about herself:

“First and foremost, I am a Jehovah’s Witness. (Yes, I do knock on doors!) 🙂 I am also a wife, mother, cuddly Nanny, a reader, a thinker, a dreamer and a storyteller, Margarita expert, singer and entertainer, jam maker extraordinaire, serial dieter, and mother to a dozen chickens.”

After following Dorreen’s writing for some time, I was so pleased when she agreed to have a virtual cup of coffee with me to answer my questions for this interview.  Read on for Dorreen’s thoughts and advice around blogging and writing.  It’s good stuff.

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The “true friend” test

Just a quick thought. I’ve read a few posts on how to tell if someone is a “true” friends. Most of these articles cite surface-level trite things like, “they always support you”, etc.

I’ve always thought the mark of a true friend was someone who will tell you the truth, even when they know it’s not what you want to hear. That takes courage and caring about someone–be truthful with them even when it hurts.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend…”

Words. That’s all.

If you’re reading this post on WordPress, you are most likely a blogger writing your own blog, right? And although we may be inspired by different things, we do have at least one thing in common– we’re actively writing content that we expect (or at least hope) that others will read.

If not, we’d all be writing in our journals or simply keeping a folder filled with Word documents on our laptops.

Additionally, the web is overflowing with thousands of ways to build a great web site, sell a product or build a following on a blog. Even here on WordPress there are so many workshops and classes that at times I wonder when people find the time to simply write words.

It is for these reasons that the letter (web page) below by Justin Jackson resonated so strongly with me when I read it a few days ago nursing by 2nd cup of java.  And, although I’m sure it’s been republished online many times, it’s so good I couldn’t help but post it again. For the sake of preserving the content, I’m not using block quotes. For the original article posted online click here.


This is a web page.

There’s not much here.

Just words.

And you’re reading them.

We’ve become obsessed with fancy designs, responsive layouts, and scripts that do magical things.

But the most powerful tool on the web is still words.

I wrote these words, and you’re reading them: that’s magical.

I’m in a little city in British Columbia; you’re probably somewhere else. I wrote this early in the morning, June 20th, 2013; you’re probably reading it at a different time. I wrote this on my laptop; you could be reading this on your phone, a tablet or a desktop.

You and I have been able to connect because I wrote this and you’re reading it.That’s the web. Despite our different locations, devices, and time-zones we can connect here, on a simple HTML page.

I wrote this in a text editor. It’s 6KB. I didn’t need a Content Management System, a graphic designer, or a software developer. There’s not much code on this page at all, just simple markup for paragraphs, hierarchy, and emphasis.

I remember teaching my daughter to code HTML when she was 8. The first thing she wrote was a story about a squirrel. She wasn’t “writing HTML”; she was sharing something with the world. She couldn’t believe that she could write a story on our home computer, and then publish it for the world to see. She didn’t really care about HTML, she cared about sharing her stories.

You are still reading.

Think about all the things you could communicate with a simple page like this. If you’re a businessperson, you could sell something. If you’re a teacher, you could teach something. If you’re an artist, you could show something you’ve made. And if your words are good, people will read them.

If you’re a web designer, or a client who is working with one, I’d like to challenge you to think about words first. Instead of starting with a style guide or a Photoshop mockup, start with words on a page.

What do you have to say? If you don’t know, there’s not much use in adding all that other cruft. Just start with one page, with a single focus. Write it and publish it, and then iterate on that. Every time you’re about to add something, ask yourself: does this help me communicate better? Will that additional styling, image, or hyperlink give my audience more understanding? If the answer’s “no”, don’t add it.

At its heart, web design should be about words. Words don’t come after the design is done. Words are the beginning, the core, the focus.

Start with words.

Cheers,
Justin Jackson
@mijustin
On Google+


Thank you Justin for allowing me to post this and for reminding us all of the power of pure, unadulterated…words.

Happy Sunday!

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Hello everyone, and a happy Sunday to you all! Here’s to hoping you have a great day. Go find something to be thankful for today if you can. I’m posting two of my reasons in the pic above. (Taken a couple of weeks ago during a family vacation to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.) Focus on the important things today!

Talk to you soon.

Warmest Regards,

DH

Blogging Hack: Idea Shortcut

For me, blogging is a tale of two emotions. In general I find it very enjoyable of course, however, there are moments when it becomes stressful to keep up with a publishing schedule because of other things I have happening in my life.

That being said, I’m learning a few “shortcuts” that help me reduce these moments of anxiety. In the interest of brevity, I thought I’d share just one of them with you in this post. I hope you find it helpful!

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Sincerely? Just Write It Sincerely (Interview)

For this week’s interview, I’m publishing my notes from my conversation with Terri Webster-Schrandt from Perspectives on…Work, Life and Leisure.

I was anxious to talk to Terri for a few reasons.  Different from other interviews I’ve posted, it wasn’t necessarily the number of followers that drew me to Terri’s blog, but rather her way of writing.  Her posts come across in a very sincere and transparent way that make me feel as though she’s writing with her own voice, being true to herself versus writing with the intention of simply attracting followers, etc.  Personally, I value this in a writer as I find their work much more interesting.

Her journey includes making the decision to change the name of her blog as part of this effort to reflect the nature of her content. I love this willingness to evolve and grow in order to perfect; I hope to do the same.  Her life has been a colorful one thus far, and whether it be her past life teaching in northern California, wind surfing on the weekends or advocating for women’s interests, this same energy and transparency shine through.  Read on for my conversation notes! Continue reading

Sunday in Autumn

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Sipping coffee, watching the snow fall slowly.

Sunday…the first day of the week, an opportunity to wipe the slate clean, a time to push the reset button. Autumn…a season of endings, transitioning away from the lively, vibrant sounds and sensations of summer; a slow inching towards what promises to be a cold, still winter.  Sunday in autumn…a fresh start in a season of quiet closure.

‘Twas the Night Before Monday

‘Twas the night before Monday, and my mind began to race,
What will this week hold? How will I fill this space?

Was it work I was thinking of, or could it be something more?
It was this blog and the posts I need, causing my brain to be so sore.

I pondered it, thought it through, an idea crept slowly in,
I should blog about this problem, this predicament I am in.

So I grabbed a large espresso and made straight for my chair,
The place where I brainstorm, the place I sit and stare.

As I sat there and sipped, my mind raced endlessly,
But all I could come up with, was this piece of poetry.

In conclusion I must say, this felt somewhat sad to write,
Merry Monday to all, and to all a good night.

Have a great week from Brews and Views!

DH-

I…Hate…Drama.

We could hear her shrieking from three rooms away– the sound of it caused chills to tap dance up my spine and neck. As she entered the dimly lit room where we silently sat draped in the shadows, she anxiously scanned the crowd. Her tear-streaked face was a twisted mass of agony, as though she were suffering from pain akin to what ancient Indian braves inflicted on their prisoners after a successful war party raid. Then she saw me.

“Oh God, WHY, WHY, WHY!!! How could she leave us!” As the left shoulder of my suit coat was quickly being soaked by the seemingly endless, gushing Niagara from her eyes, her ragged breathing caused me to pause with momentary concern. It was as though she was being forced to breathe through a straw…she just couldn’t get enough air in spite of how much she heaved and strained. The sound of it was making my ear ache. My body was being shaken as she shook; I was a slave to her tight embrace. People stared. I stared…at the floor.

double-ugly-cry-faceIt was the funeral of my great-grandmother, and the quivering mass of wailing flesh latched-on to me was a great-aunt who absolutely couldn’t stand the deceased. Better yet, great-grandma hated her equally as much, maybe more. I…hate…drama.  Continue reading