Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Blogs and kisses

“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.” ― Henry Ward Beecher, American clergyman, social reformer and speaker known for his support of the abolition of slavery

FOUR YEARS ago last month, I wrote my first Hey Look Something Shiny post.

You may recall that for several years Paul had tried to convince me to write a blog. He even set one up for me, but I remained unmotivated. Then three Iowa Supreme Court justices were voted out for having ruled that denying gay couples the right to marry violated the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution. 

In an effort to do something constructive with my disappointment and frustration, I joined the Southern Poverty Law Center, selecting that organization based on its long history of working against discrimination and bigotry across a broad front. 

As a new member I was given the opportunity to listen to a live telephone conversation between SPLC President Richard Cohen and Mark Potok, Director of the Intelligence Project. The topic was the sharp rise in the number of hate groups since Barack Obama was elected President.

The thought that so many people were against our freely-elected leader — not just against him, but actively hated him — because of the amount of pigmentation in his skin just made me crazy, 

And that was the tipping point. I dragged out my laptop and started typing. The fact that I've kept at it has surprised me more than anyone. 

It's been good for me in diverse ways. It's made me a clearer thinker. In order to articulate what's going on in my head, a process of organization, clarification and substantiation has to take place. It's also made me a much faster writer which, as you might suppose, is extremely useful not only in my work, but in my life overall.

Writing Hey Look has definitely been a means of self-education. I nearly always have to do some research — the biographies of, politics behind, history of, science supporting, laws governing, geography, crucial dates — and so on and so on. And since (shock and surprise registering on my face) some of you are generous enough to actually read what I write, I feel duty-bound to try to the best I can with my limited time and resources.

It's also been personally validating experience. For too many reasons to recount right now, I grew up feeling voiceless. Children who've had a lot of sad, bad things happen to them often do. Writing this blog has helped me more fully embrace who I am.

Four tangible, good things have occurred that I know of as the result of 
Hey Look: two friends reunited who'd lost touch 40 years ago, a student and a teacher reconnected after almost 50 years, and two people sought medical treatment. Modest accomplishments perhaps, but still I'm happy to have done a little good in the world.

And if I'm lucky, maybe Hey Look has been the means for someone having a laugh, learning a thing, reconsidering a position, being more tolerant, standing firm for a belief, performing a kindness, donating to a worthy cause, defending someone who needs it or being a little nicer to themselves. 

Here are a few statistics:

According to Blogspot analytics, Hey Look posts have been read just over 85,000 times. Today's post is my 758th post which would mean that on average a post is read 112 times. That seems a little high to me, considering that my most-read post was read by just 550 people, but then I'm a bit math-challenged.

The most readers by country are:
United States     47,380
Russia     19,262
Germany     2066
France     1630
Ukraine     1577
United Kingdom     1147
Canada     657
China     638
Czech Republic     599
Malaysia     427

I admit that kind of enjoy playing Pooh Sticks as I watch which country is beginning to outpace which country. (I always feel bad that my rational, intelligent neighbors to the north are so low down on the list.)

Rather than list a few of the most-read posts, I'll tell you what some of my personal favorites are and a few that have been under-read IMHO.

I hate UPS

The Dialogues of Plato (and me)

Catnip dreams, Soot

The wonderful ice cream suit

Thanking veterans


You give me fever

Cloud eight

Spiderman minus the superpowers

Erasing hate

Happy anniversary to us