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Ghostly Echoes

One of the more haunting and moving aspects of blogging is coming across a journal whose owner has passed on and whose friends and family continue updating it as a memorial or tribute. I stumbled across one of these today via a friend's post.

Today marks the one year anniversary of the the passing of anjenue, a vibrant, opinionated, and talented young woman who had just completed her second Master's degree and was about to set off to teach English in Japan through the JET program.

It's a haunting and humbling privilege to be granted access to her life and her family's grief, joy, acceptance and celebration of her.

A Meme about LJ

Someone on my other journal posted this meme - it's a little bit of navel gazing, but it's interesting to reflect upon why one blogs and what function it seems to serve. Just for the fun of it, I'm replying to the meme

How did you come to start your LJ?
Someone on another discussion board I regularly frequented at the time provided a link to a few communities over here on LJ. I wandered over to take a look and discovered that this was full of interesting communities.

How did you find your first friends?
My first friends on LJ were people I knew from the other discussion boards I visited.

Are those first friends still on your F-List?
They are indeed! :D

How long have you been on LJ?
Since August 2005.
Cut to spare the uninterested...Collapse )

Tips from a Language Coach

A colleague and good friend of mine, who is a language coach, has recently published a few pieces on foreign language learning. Her first piece is "Speak Up: Expert Strategies for Successful Language Learning". We both trained the same Ph.D. program, so it's really interesting for me to read about research on second language acquisition which has been distilled into more general terms for a lay audience.

A Time Capsule

Someone I have friended on my other blog recently posted a picture of the cover of her soon-to-be-published first book. Understandably, after 7 years of rejections, she is positively ecstatic. Scrolling back through several years of prior entries, you can read about the heartache and the hope she experienced on her way to finally getting a book out.

I expect, some of her closer friends will throw her a little virtual party on LJ complete with virtual cake and silly poems written in her honor. But aside from the camaraderie, I think one of the most interesting and rewarding elements of a blog is that it serves as something of a short term time capsule on one's life complete with links, pictures, and silly comments from friends and acquaintances.

One of the risks, however, is that it is possible for this electronic record to be obliterated in one fell swoop. If you're found in violation of LJ's TOS (Terms of Service), you can find your entire journal deleted and purged without notice. This is rare and generally only happens to those who have been found to be breaking the law. Also somewhat rare is a malicious attack by a hacker who takes over your journal, changes your password, locks you out and begins revising old content. I've known this to happen to a few of my friends' fandom journals. More common, however, might be loss of entries due to carelessness and accidental deletion of the wrong thing.

Regardless of the reason, the longer I keep a blog, the more I value it as a personal historical record, and the more devastated I would be were it to suddenly disappear. Unfortunately, this electronic format is rather ephemeral and doesn't lend itself easily to being printed out. I know a number of my friends keep back-up copies of their journal on sites similar to LJ (e.g. InsaneJournal, GreatestJournal, JournalFen). I've tried doing that myself, but I've found it hard to remember to update everywhere.

I just hope the servers hosting LJ don't come under attack anytime soon or I'll find myself mourning the loss of a lot of personal history.


ETA:
As a follow-up, here are a few interesting post that document some of the hacking problems people encounter here in LJ:

http://acari.livejournal.com/357555.html
http://nympholept.livejournal.com/tag/russian+bots

Ein bisschen Deutch

Manchmel möchte ich auf deutsch bloggen (ich weiss eigentlich nicht ob bloggen ein echtes deutsches Wort ist). Bisher habe ich nicht versucht auf deutsch in meinem Blog zu schreiben weil es mir peinlich ist. Ich konnte einmals relativ korrekt deutsch, aber jetzt ist es unmöglich auf deutsch zu denken und schreiben ohne extrem Mühe.

Blowing NaBloPoMo

I must admit that I'm rather disappointed in myself for missing a post. As it turned out, after class Thursday night, I didn't have my usual time to blog before bed. my S.O. and I headed home to drop off our books, check the flight status of Nancy Hornberger's flight (one of the featured IYL speakers), and headed off to the airport to pick her up shortly after she landed around 10:15. As she had left Philly around 5pm and didn't have a chance to eat anything for dinner, we wound up having a very late dinner at the IHOP and catching up on all the news from back at Penn.

By the time we got home after dropping her off at the hotel, it was already after 1am, and it was too late to post for the day.

Missing a post on Thursday also took the wind out of my sails when it came to blogging this weekend. But I'm back now and full of things to blog about. Who knows, I might even post more than one entry today!

Meetings

Meetings serve a necessary social function - even if one does not actually accomplish a great deal of anything during one. I just wish I didn't happen to always have so gosh darn many of them all on the same day.

Further Misadventures Down Under

The situation in Australia is still horrific, and I cannot imagine having to contend with wildfires on a regular basis. Apparently, this fire is so much worse than anyone was prepared for. This post does a vivid job of depicting exactly what people are having to contend with.

Emergency Down Under

I have a number of friends on my other blog who live in Australia and who have been posting updates on the fires raging through Victoria. Currently, more than 130 people have died, countless more have been hospitalized with burns, over 750 homes have been destroyed, and several thousand have been left homeless. Added to this is the wildlife that has also been devastated.

Things you can do to:

  • The Australian Red Cross is taking credit card donations here for amounts as little as AUS$5.
  • Apparently, the US regularly imports large amounts of blood products from Oz so, for those who can, donating blood can reduce the drain on Australia's emergency stash.
  • For those who regularly communicate with a higher power, Victoria is clearly in need of lots of rain over the next several weeks (sans lightening).

Online Friends

I've recently had a paper accepted for a conference in Lancaster, England which is both exciting and a little stressful. I've never been to Lancaster and don't quite know what to expect, so a bit of research was in order.

As a result, I posted an entry to my other journal requesting travel tips and advice. As it turns out, there are a fair few people on my friends list who live in the UK and have been very helpful in figuring out how to get around. A number who live within reasonable traveling distance from Lancaster have even invited me to visit (apparently Edinburgh is just a 2.5 hour train trip away), and I'm quite tempted to take them up on their offer.

This won't be the first time I'll have met up in RL with people I've only known online. While doing my fieldwork in Sweden, I spent the day wandering the streets of Malmo with a member of my f-list who does beautifully whimsical illustrations. I'd also made several trips to Copenhagen, Denmark to visit a friend - a fashion model and Star Trek geek - who showed me about town. Then there was that time I took the train from Philly to D.C. to attend the first art exhibit of another illustrator on my f-list, which was just amazing.

It's also been nice to have this virtual support network available to me wherever in the world I happen to be (as long as I have an Internet connection). Although it was hard to leave my friends and colleagues in Philadelphia when I first moved to San Antonio, my f-list came with me and continued to support and amuse me as I bumbled my way around Texas.